Thursday, 30 June 2011

Falklands: Part 1 - Stanley area

As I mentioned in a previous post I have recently been down to the Falkland Islands for just over a month from mid May to mid June. I was there with work and was supposed to be out at sea for the majority of the time but winter down there isn't the best for working out at sea and I only managed about 8 days out at sea. It meant I had a lot of spare time in and around Stanley. Unfortunately it was winter so the majority of the islands penguins had left or the beaches that you could see them were now unaccessable. Added to that most wildlife guides seemed to be away for the winter enjoying some sun anywhere else in the world.
Falklands Flightless Streamer Duck

Ruddy-headed Goose

Falklands Thrush
Blue Whale (at least parts of one!)
Fortunately there was enough to see around the area near Stanley. From the centre of Stanley itself there are lots of Upland, Kelp and Ruddy-headed Geese feeding on any piiece of grass they can find or along the shoreline. There are very few passerines in the Falklands but you can still find Long-tailed Meadowlarks, Falklands Thrush, Dark-faced Ground-tyrant, Black-chinned Siskin and Black-throated Finch pretty easily in and around Stanley. Turkey Vultures are everywhere, with a roost of 160+ birds in the centre of Stanley while the odd Crested (Southern) Caracara lingered around the town.


Long-tailed Mewadowlark

Blackish Oystercatcher

Dark-faced Ground-tyrant
Black-crowned Night Heron

Speckled Teal

Snowy Sheathbill

The shoreline and bay alongside Stanley was also very productive, Blackish and Magellanic Oystercatchers, Patagonian Crested Duck and Speckled Teal were all present in small numbers while the Falkland Flightless Streamer Duck was probably the most prominent species along the coast. On most piers along the sea front there were always good numbers of Rock and Imperial Shags while underneath the piers or any buildings on stilts you are guaranteed to find a few Night Herons. Snowy (pale-faced) Sheathbills grew in numbers the longer I was there with flocks of 10+ seen on several occasions.

Crested Caracara

Turkey Vulture roost
Kelp Goose

The main area that I birded near to Stanley was the coastline from Gypsy Cove to Cape Pembroke to the east of Stanley. It was an easy walk from the Fipass harbour and the heathland on the way to Gypsy Cove was an excellent area to see Black-throated Finch and Falkland Grass Wren. Nearer the coast it became more boggy with sveral small pools. It was on the edge of one of these pools that I found an American Purple Gallinule, little realising that this was to be the 2nd ever record of one to seen on the islands alive!!! I saw it later in the afternoon looking none to well and being attacked by a White-tufted Grebe! The coast along this area is a hotspot for Peales Dolphins and everytime I went I magaed to get crippling views of them as the swam amongst the kelp very close to the shore.

Two-banded Plover

American Purple Gallinule
Peales Dolphin

Variable Hawk
Black-throated Finch

Falkland Grass Wren

Magellanic Snipe


Upland Goose

White-tufted Grebe

View of Stanley


Cattle Egret

Rock Shag

Dolphin Gull

Kelp Gull

Magellanic Penguin

Sunset, Stanley

I managed to get on trip to the south of the island, visiting Bertha's beach to see some Gentoo Penguins. Unfortunately when I got there, there were only 11 left on land but to compensate I managed to see Black-neckked & Coscoroba Swans nearby and Rufous-chested Dotterel near the sand dunes. On the drive home I also picked up Tussacbird and Falklands Pipit.

Gentoo Penguins

Black-necked Swan

Falklands: Part 2 will follow soon and will be about all the seabirds that I managed to see while out at sea.

Saturday, 18 June 2011

Golden form from Ely!

May ended with massive changes to the tables, Ely taking a suprise and substantial lead. Rumours from the end of April suggested that Yellowcraig was running away with it but this proved to be nothing moire than idle gossip. Bird of the month was probably Golden Oriole found by the Elyian. My excuse for falling to 4th is that I only had about 3 days in the UK during May, squashed between 9 days in Norway and almost 5 weeks in the Falklands Islands (more on this later).

Latest results:

1) Ely 126 pts
2) Aberlady 119 pts
3) Yellowcraig 115 pts
4) Hopton 113 pts
5) Girdleness 100 pts (ish)

Having just got back into the UK earlier this week I was keen to get out on the patch but first I managed to see a few decent birds outside of the patch. A Grasshopper Warbler was reeling near to Gapton Hall estate, Bradwell and a male Black Redstart was singing near to my work. In the evening a Little Owl was out hunting near to Lound. After a couple of aborted attempts to get onto patch (Kingfisher at Lound Lakes the highlight) I finally got to Corton today and added Reed Warbler to the patch list. The Cuckoo was still hanging around the south side of the sewage works, where a Lesser Whitethroat was also present.