The flight times for the Falklands Govt Air Service (FIGAS) are only announced the previous evening depending on forecast weather conditions and demand – they also only use 3 Islander aircraft with just 5 passenger seats. So our flight from Carcass to Pebble Island didn’t come in from Stanley until 13.30. So that meant we had a whole morning on the island and Rob, the owner took us out in his battered Land Rover for a gentle ride after breakfast up to Leopard Bay. There are no rats on Carcass, so there are lots of small birds, many of which are ground nesters, and Bob pointed these all out to us – Falklands thrush, Cobb’s wren, siskins, meadowlarks, Tussoc birds, plovers and more. Coming down to Leopard Bay, we say loads of Magellenic penguins coming in and out of their burrows and then at the bay was the gentoo penguin colony with the birds coming down to the beautiful sandy beach in company of an upland goose and her 6 goslings – there were a couple of snowy sheathbills there too, looking for any easy pickings.
Back to the lodge for tea and then off in the other direction to end up at the airstrip. And then another amazing highlight. We came to a beach with a haul out of elephant seals – all females and pups apart from one massive bull. There were a couple of other males lurking offshore not daring to come near the beach. So, we wandered up the beach and some of the females lifted their heads and gave us a roar. The bull seemed to just be enjoying lying around, occasionally opening his eyes, or rolling over, when all of a sudden he woke up and started lumbering, quite fast, along the beach and launched himself on top of one of th
females. She roared and squirmed and after a few minutes, the bull just rolled off and seemed to doze off again, but a minute later he was off to try his luck again. This cow rejected him too, but he was determined and charged off again and this time he was successful and we watched voyeuristically as these massive animals mated. A very special moment.
Carcass Lodge is a great place to stay on a trip to the Falklands and Rob and his wife Lorraine are superb hosts.
A 20 minute flight to Pebble Island and something different again. The island is one of the main stops on the battlefield tour circuit and we learnt all about the SAS operation on the island in the early days of the 1982 conflict. The main attraction, though, was the birds and especially the penguins. There are 3 types of penguin on the island, Magellenic, rockhopper and gentoo, but we saw two more – there was a lone king penguin standing by one of the ponds – unable to swim because it was still moulting, and then, in the middle of a rockhopper colony, there was just one macaroni, with its bright yellow head feathers. Lots more upland and kelp geese, skuas, 3 kinds of shag – rock, king and imperial – petrels, turkey vultures, cara caras and the beautiful light grey dolphin gull with its bright red beak and legs. Some good company again at dinner, another super and enlightening day.