Thursday, 10 March 2011

Birdlife and biscuits non-stop

Wow wow wow!!! Today we were overwhelmed by the fantastic variety of bird species living in the Falkland Islands and by the hospitality of the farmers we visited.

Our first landing took place at Carcass Island. Many of us took the chance to walk along the white sandy beach with crystal clear blue-green water. Small little birds called blackish cinclodes and locally known as the tussock bird approached us curiously so that we could almost touch them. In addition, we were able to get many full format portraits of the big striated caracaras which were loitering around and not shy either.

To complete our bird list we could also see the famous steamer ducks, crested ducks, several species of geese (kelp geese, ruddy-headed geese, upland geese), Magellanic oystercatchers, turkey vultures, cobb’s wrens (endemic to the Falklands!), rock cormorants, austral thrushes and many others.

When tired of beach and birds, we could refresh ourselves with a cup of tea in the farmhouse of the McGill’s who had been baking delicious scones and cookies since 4 o’clock in the morning.

It was very difficult to leave this marvelous place, but luckily our afternoon destination was equally attractive. We landed at West Point, another offshore island in the Western part of the Falkland archipelago. Here, our program consisted in a 45 min hike across the hilly landscape (good to stretch our legs!) towards a big rookery. Another penguin colony? - you may ask. And yes! – is the answer! We could finally watch the beautiful rockhopper penguins with the yellow crest and the shiny red eyes. But not only them! Hundreds of black-browed albatross breed in the area as well. At this time of year their almost fully grown chicks are sitting on the nests waiting for the adults to provide food. Much to see and observe!!

It was certainly another highlight of our trip and again, after our hike back, we were treated with more tea and more cakes!