25.03.2013 - 29.03.2013
This morning we headed off to Sea Lion Island. It was only a 5 minute drive up the road to the local airport where we were to fly on an 8 seater FIGAS (Falkland Islands Government Air Service) plane. As it was a little plane we not only had to have our luggage weighed but they also weighed us too. Luckily we didn’t see the end result. So we boarded the little red plane, were given a brief safety talk and then off we went. The flight was 40 minutes. It was quite a nice morning, we got a lovely view of Stanley. You can also see Mt William and Mt Tumbledown in the background so you can see how close the action was to Stanley.
The pilot told us that there were quite a few whales around and as we flew quite low we could see them really well. It was wonderful seeing a whole whale from above them.
Within no time at all we had arrived at Sea Lion Island where there was a little dirt runway right next to the lodge.
It is the remotest southerly lodge in the world. We were greeted by Jenny and settled in.
In the afternoon Jenny took us for a jeep ride around the island so we could get our bearings. There are lots of walks that we can do to see the wildlife while we are here. The first stop was near Rum Island where there were lots of kelp and a few sea lions playing in the kelp.
There was also an elephant seal wallowing in a shallow pond.
From there we headed to Rockhopper Point where we were to see our very first Rockhopper Penguins. They are the most friendliest penguins we have ever seen. They were not afraid and we were able to get very close. They are still malting.
There is also a memorial to the HMS Sheffield there as it was only about 40 miles away that the battle ship was sunk by the Argentinians during the conflict in 1982.
We headed back via the Long Pond to the other side of the island where Jenny showed us Elephant Corner (because of the Elephant Seals) and North East Point where there are a lot of Gentoo penguins.
After returning to the lodge we decided to take a walk back down to North East Point.
Just outside the lodge there was a Juvenile Striated Caracara sitting on the fence. He was not afraid of us and we were able to get really close. This bird is one of the rarest birds of prey in the world. There are at least 10 breeding pairs on the island.
Upon arrival at the beach we sat and watched the Gentoo penguins porpoising in and making their landings on the beach. Some were more dainty than others.
As the sun went down it got quite cool so we headed back up to the lodge for a nice cuppa and dinner.
It was drizzly and windy this morning but we were not going to let that stop us. We had decided that we would walk up to Long Pond this morning.
We were hoping to see some Crested Ducks and Speckled Teal. The Speckled Teal are really cute little ducks with yellow beaks. About an hour into our walk the sun came out and it was a lovely morning. We arrived at the pond and sat down for a drink only to have an adult Striated Caracara sit right alongside us.
We could not see any birds but walked around past all the rushes and there they were sheltering from the wind.
We headed back to the lodge for lunch and then after lunch ventured to Elephant Corner. It has started raining again. There were quite a few elephant seals sleeping, swimming and play fighting.
There was also a family of Crested Ducks.
We also got to see some other varieties of birds.
Juvenile dolphin gull
Adult dolphin gull
Once again the sun came out and it was a lovely afternoon.
This morning we flew to Bleaker Island. It was only a 10 minute flight. Bleaker Island lies close to the south–east coast of the East Falkland, at the entrance to Adventure Sound. Together with its outlying islands, the Bleaker Island Group is internationally recognised as an Important Bird Area. The northern part of the island is a National Nature Reserve. The island is now privately owned and has been a sheep farm for over 100 years. It is now under organic sustainable management, it has 1000 sheep and 55 Hereford breeding cows. Wildlife and domestic animals happily co-exist. We landed on a little grass airstrip where Elaine and Robert were there to meet us. The airstrip is a little way from the settlement so they took us on an orientation drive so that we could see what there was to offer in the way of wildlife. There are lots of options and we have 3 nights here.
We arrived at the settlement and were led to our amazing accommodation. We are staying in Cassard House (named after the shipwreck of the same name). It was constructed in 2011 and has solar powered underfloor heating, triple glazing and a lovely warm conservatory. Luxury, and we are the only guests at present.
After lunch we had a wander around the settlement. We headed down to the old jetty as there are several sea birds mingling together. This included Rock Cormorants
and a Southern Crested Caracara
Elaine popped over to arrange dinner time and we got talking to her. Her son lives in Adelaide at the moment. It is such a small world.
We sat and ate dinner and watched a beautiful sunset.
We had use of the landrover today so that made it easy to get around the island. So off we headed to see what we could see.
Our first stop was at the cormorant nests. They were empty but it made a great photo.
We then headed to an area on the coast where the Rockhopper Penguins live. We sat for ages watching them. They were nested quite high up and would hop up and down the rocks to the water.
We then headed to Big Pond to see what water birds we could see. We were lucky enough to see a flock of Black-necked Swans.
We also saw them in flight
and some Silvery Grebe.
The weather once again came good and it was lovely and sunny. The good old Falkland winds were still about though and at times almost blew you off your feet.
Today we headed out in the land rover to part of the southern end of Bleaker. We had all day so took our time looking around. We first came to a little bay where I spotted a few Peale’s dolphins bobbing about. We got out of the land rover to have a look and found a huge male sea lion sunning on the beach. He got a bit cross when Shane tried to get close for a picture. He was very impressive as his big hairy mane was dry and really fluffy.
We then headed down to Ram Paddock Pond. This pond is really close to the ocean. There is only about a metre between the pond and the sea.
At the pond we were lucky enough to find the White-Tufted Grebe swimming around and there was also one on a nest. It was quite late in the season but she was sitting on an egg.
We were also able to see Silver Teals. Their blue beaks really stood out.
We stopped along the coast for lunch. We could not believe what a great spot we had stopped in. There were Southern Giant Petrels everywhere and they were flying really low right around us.
We were also able to watch lots more dolphins in the bay.
Later that day we also decided to head back down to Big Pond as the winds had calmed right down. We thought we would take another look at the Silvery Grebes and the Black-necked Swans.
We also took a walk along Sandy Bay beach and looked out to Ghost Island. There wasn’t much on the beach apart from Falkland Steamer Ducks and some Southern Giant Petrels bobbing about on the water.
We returned via Long Gulch where the Magallenic penguins were mixing with the sheep.
While I was shutting one of the gates a Long-tailed Meadow Lark landed on the fence. They call them Robins here for obvious reasons.
We returned to Rock Hopper Point to take one more look at Bleakers Rock Hoppers. It has been another lovely day.