DG Wildlife by Dalia Kvedaraite and Giedrius Stakauskas | Bird Photography in the Falkland Islands

Bird Photography in the Falkland Islands

January-February, 2015

We have spent two amazing weeks in the Falkland Islands photographing Rockhopper, Magellanic, Gentoo and King penguins. These birds were our primary target.

Rockhopper Penguin taking a ShowerRockhopper Penguin taking a ShowerRockhopper “shower” is the main sight of Saunders island, Falklands. Penguins need to wash their bodies not only from salt but also from smelly guano.

Penguin RacingPenguin Racing Falkland Islands have a big variety of other birds too which could be seen on the coast or cliffs, in tussac grass, ponds or wetland areas. 

Tussacbird also known as Blackish Cinclode is one of the most common bird on the islands. As the name suggests it prefers tussac grass as well as rocks and kelp. 

On the Sea Lion Island the bird preferred to stay not only in the tussac grass but also close to the moulting Elephant Seals. Surprisingly this small creature easily picked through the skin and flash of these huge animals.

Cobb's wren is another highlight of the Falkland Islands.

This tiny bird is unique to the Falkland islands and is found in places free of rats or cats. For example, Saunders island is the second largest offshore island in Falklands but Cobb's wren is absent there and only a few songbirds are seen because of presence of feral cats, mice, rats and rabbits.

Sea Lion Island has several songbirds, including Black-chinned siskin, White-bridles finch (also known as Black-throated finch),  Dark-faced ground-tyrant, Falkland pipit, thrush and others.
It is difficult for songbirds to adapt in the Falkland Islands due to lack of trees and harsh, windy conditions. Tussac grass which grows up to 3 metres tall and usually is found around the coastline plays an important role here. 

A landscape of the Falklands is unimaginable without birds of prey. 

Striated Caracara known as the Johnny rook is one of the world’s rarest birds of prey with the world population of around 1000 breeding pairs. There are 500 breeding pairs in the Falkland islands.

Striated CaracaraStriated Caracara Juveniles have a strong resemblance to adults.

Striated Caracara is an opportunistic feeder. It will hang around penguin colonies looking for food or anything left behind. 

Bald head Turkey vultures known for an extraordinary sense of smell can also be spotted on the Falkland Islands.

Wading birds are numerous on the Falkland Islands. Pied Oystercatcher, Two-banded Plover, White rumped sandpiper are easy to spot.

Persistent drumming of Snipe can be heard in wetlands and moorlands.

Skuas are widely distributed around the Falklands. 

They stay around colonies of penguins looking for food.

Dolphin Gulls often harass penguin colonies but do little harm.

In the Falkland islands there are plenty of freshwater ponds and lakes. They are the best place to spot Silvery Grebe.

King Cormorants, also known as Imperial Shags or Blue-eyed Shags, nest at over 100 sites around the Falkland Islands.

In late January King Cormorants had their chicks already. Nevertheless the birds carried on "refurbishing" their nests.

King Cormorants nest tightly in the neighbourhood of Rockhopper penguins. Such colonies provide not only interesting observations but also super strong smells from guano, urine and regurgitated baby food.

Colonies of Rock Cormorants are quite difficult to approach. These birds nest on the ledges of steep cliffs or jetties.

One day we were very happy to spot a Black-crowned Night Heron at Volunteer Point. 

Falkland Islands hold about 70% of the world population of Black-browed Albatrosses.

These long-lived birds spend most of their lives soaring above the southern oceans and land during the breeding season. A wingspan of 2,5 m (8 ft) enables them to glide effortless.

Many believe Black-browed Albatrosses take short naps on the wing.

We loved watching their courtship displays when birds clack their beaks, raise bills skyward and fan their tails.

Albatrosses lay one egg in the nest made of mud and guano. This tall pillar later is occupied by a fluffy chick.

Another bird similar in size to the Albatross, is Southern Giant Petrel. It constantly soars above colonies of penguins looking for prey.

Falkland islands without a doubt is a great place for bird photographers. With about 227 species of birds around there is always some action around.


Penguins in Falkland islandsPenguins in Falkland islands

More information about travel arrangements and wildlife photography in the Falkland islands you can find in our blog.

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