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Falkland Islands wildlife.


douglaswise

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douglaswise

@xelas: I'd certainly love to look at what Zvezda could capture on the Falklands. Be generous and take her to both destinations!

 

I'll complete this report by showing the two mammal species I observed:

 

Adult Southern elephant seals were absent at the time of my visit, having bred, lactated and moved offshore. I understand that the lactation period is a mere 20 days before the pups are abandoned as obese, but somehow appealing, blobs to fend for themselves. I did see a few weanlings, but most had already left (or been predated by orcas). However, there were plenty of subadults hauled up on the beaches of most of the islands (not Pebble). These were moulting and relatively inactive, though occasional play flights took place.

 

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The subadult male above is showing proboscis development

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The 3 photos below are of weanlings and the last in the series is a play fight between subadults

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At the time of my visit, the Southern sea lions had yet to produce pups and, though harems were establishing and males becoming aggressive, they had not all moved to their final breeding grounds. For example, the largest harem I saw of well over 50 females was on Bleaker, but I was told that it would soon decamp to Sea Lion Island for pupping.

 

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sleeping harem boss (Pebble)

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member of above harem with turkey vultures

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Probably immatures (on rocks off Carcass)

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Single female lying with elephant seals (Sea Lion Island)

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Large harem (Bleaker)

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Two subordinate males adjacent to harem in battle

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Alpha male leaving harem to investigate fight

I have to say that the appearance of mature males seems to me to be bizarre, almost grotesque.

 

In summary, I enjoyed the trip and the ease with which I was able to experience animals and birds of which I had no previous experience. Clearly, a single visit does not enable one to see all stages of the life cycles of all species. Thus, a visit, ideally, should be chosen to allow experience of what one most wants to see. However, I had a fixed window of opportunity for the trip and, as it happened, I saw a great deal of what I had hoped for. My main disappointment was in not having seen orcas hunting elephant seal pups when at Sea Lion Island. I was a few weeks too late. I recommend that anyone interested in visiting this location should google "itt and falklands". This will take you to the website of International Tours and Travel which provides excellent information on what animals and birds are doing and when. It also provides either fixed itinerary or bespoke options for both land-based and cruise trips in the region (including Antarctica, South Georgia, Patagonia).

 

I apologise that this has been a more lengthy report than originally planned.

 

 

 

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xelas

@@douglaswise

 

There is no such thing like a lens too long ... or trIp report too long! If anything I would like to be a couple of pages longer, but you have covered Falklands in detailes, and have surely planted many seeds among the readers. Let see how many Falkland trips they will prodnhuce.

 

If it would be up to me, I would go travelling 4 times a year ... for 3 months each travel :-)) ... starting next month ... until the money pot would not be drained completely. But there must always be a wiser person in the family ...

Edited by xelas
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@@douglaswise I have enjoyed your report enormously. Such an interesting destination and wildlife. Your photos provide a beautiful insight of the place as well as the fauna.

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elefromoz

@@douglaswise, great photos of the Penguins and their various behaviours. Those little ones coming in and negotiating huge rock faces really is an incredible daily challenge. The King Penguins are so photogenic, you've got some really nice images.

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Caracal

@@douglaswise Many thanks for this fascinating report. I had not realised there was such interesting wildlife in the Falklands.

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Dave Williams

@@douglaswise Excellent trip report, thanks for sharing as I don't think I'll ever get there myself much though I'd love to. I disagree about the cost of African birding holidays though, you can go to places like The Gambia for a lot, lot less than the cost of your trip!

I thought by far the majority of your photographs were excellent so it had me wondering which camera you had been using for each one.

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@@douglaswise

A fascinating report. Lovely pictures of the Penguins and seals, and lots of practical details. The report may have been longer than you intended, but it was not longer than your readers wanted!

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Zim Girl

@@douglaswise

 

Really enjoyed reading this report and it was definitely not too long.

 

Loved the pictures of the King penguins. How close were you able to approach them and what was their reaction to people?

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douglaswise

Thanks to all those who made favourable comments.

 

@@Dave Williams, I tried to answer your question in the Photography forum.

 

@@Zim Girl, The main colonies (King and Gentoo) are ringed with white-painted stones at Volunteer Point. Observers aren't allowed within the rings. When I was there, I was either on my own or with one other and there were as many penguins in a sort of suburbia outside the rings as within them. It was impossible to keep the required distance of 5m in the suburban areas because the birds largely ignored one and passed to and fro within a metre or so. The odd one even came up to peck one's feet. I was told, however, that, when large groups of tourists are present (as happens with cruise ship visits to Stanley), the penguins leave suburbia and go to the "city" (inside the rings).

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jeremie

As promised, I will post some pictures of my trip to the Falklands Islands in November 2015.

I have been absolutely surprised by the Falklands, you can get really close to wildlife, same species of birds in Chile are really tame, and I would say wildlife from the islands get a bit closer than animals from the Brazilian Pantanal.

 

I have never finished to select my pictures and to edit them, I indeed lost all my data because of a hardware problem that I solved few months ago, this the reason why I have never posted pictures from there and neither written any trip report.

 

I have traveled with a Chilean agency specialized in photography for a week. We went to Sea Lion Island, Carcass Island (with West Point day trip), Volunteer Point , Gipsy Cove, and a little known place called Kidney Cove where three small rockhopper penguins colonies are located.

 

Sea Lion was excepcional in November, Elephant seals pups where everywhere with killer whales looking for them (this year one one killer whale sadly passed away as it got stuck on a beach).

 

On Carcass we had an excepcional sunset with lots of geese and birds on Leopard beach on the Eastern side of the island. Gentoos were not surfing so much, contrary to Sea Lion Island. Elephant seals where resting on the western shores of the island, at only 10 minutes from the airstrip.

We saw some Commerson's Delfins when we were going back from West Point to Carcass, which was an extraordinary day trip with many albatross nesting.

 

I fell in love with Volunteer Point, this place is so impressive, really wild.

 

No need to go on with more details, Douglaswise was quite extensive in describing the different sites I visited.

 

I would only had that it is really worth visiting South Georgia combined with the Falklands, If you want to see a place with half a million king penguins on a beach with thousands of elephant seals, this is the place. In comparison, The Falklands islands only host a small, recovering population of several thousands, mainly located on Sea Lion. This population is the where the chilean population of Jackson Bay originate.

http://www.eleseal.org

 

22817277627_f5c96db86f_b.jpgPinguino penacho amarillo - Rock Hopper pinguin by Goulevitch Jérémie, sur Flickr

 

22915685830_cd43efa543_b.jpgPetrel gigante del Sur - Southern giant petrel by Goulevitch Jérémie, sur Flickr

 

22732319974_ee970b1b1e_b.jpgQuetru no volador - Fuegian steamer duck - Tachyeres pteneres by Goulevitch Jérémie, sur Flickr

 

23327851701_047f8d324c_b.jpgElephant seal, Sea Lion Island. by Goulevitch Jérémie, sur Flickr

 

23412258300_807720f4e7_b.jpgPaloma antartica - snowy sheathbill - Chionis alba by Goulevitch Jérémie, sur Flickr

 

23868115305_2ff07d81a7_b.jpgPinguino Penacho amarillo secándose - Rockhopper penguin - Eudyptes chrysocome by Goulevitch Jérémie, sur Flickr

 

23842009036_19953d3e22_b.jpgPingüinos papua saltando, de vuelta a la playa - gentoo penguins - Pygoscelis papua by Goulevitch Jérémie, sur Flickr

 

23760977012_f425cbc3f8_b.jpgPingüino papua saltando, de vuelta a la playa - gentoo penguin - Pygoscelis papua CROP by Goulevitch Jérémie, sur Flickr

 

23922740950_11925a3ea8_b.jpgPinguino magallanico - Magellanic pinguïn - Spheniscus magellanicus by Goulevitch Jérémie, sur Flickr

 

26493859225_a3a940d51a_b.jpgKing pinguïn, Volunteer Point, Falkland Islands by Goulevitch Jérémie, sur Flickr

 

26430231881_f58139c592_b.jpgPinguino rey - Volunteer Point - Falklands Islands by Goulevitch Jérémie, sur Flickr

 

25907382723_bb544de6ef_b.jpgGentoo pinguins - Pinguino papua - Volunteer Point - Falklands Islands by Goulevitch Jérémie, sur Flickr

 

26445084071_eb4e2c93e6_b.jpgChercan de las vegas malvinero - Falklands Sedge wren - Cistothorus platensis falklandicus by Goulevitch Jérémie, sur Flickr

 

26241319260_1e60348ca8_b.jpgColonia pingüino rey - King penguin colony by Goulevitch Jérémie, sur Flickr

 

I will finish this article with some links of some Chilean photographers friends of mine, they have lovely pictures of the Falklands wildlife:

https://www.flickr.com/photos/rgazmuri/albums/72157649220358451

https://www.flickr.com/photos/76283978@N02/albums/72157649231321858/page2

 

 

In the Falklands, animals get really, really close to people... And myself!!!!! :)

32238526795_eb78117988_z.jpgVolunteer Point, Falklands Islands by Goulevitch Jérémie, sur Flickr

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offshorebirder

Super photos @@jeremie! Some great action shots in there and you do very well with eye-level angles.

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  • 4 weeks later...

@douglaswise Thanks so much for the trip report. This was very educational for me as I really had no idea what the Falklands are like. I guess I thought of the islands as a barren place just with sheep. You have many wonderful bird, seal and sea lion photographs of which to be very proud. I must confess the King penguins are my favorite, with the albatross a close favorite. They both are very beautifully patterned, striking birds and you have great done a great job photographing them.

It is wonderful to know that an expensive cruise is not really necessary to see them. Terry

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douglaswise

@Terry: Many thanks. Yes, I think the main lesson is that seeing seals and penguins doesn't have to be that expensive.

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