This afternoon I went down to Cape Pembroke to have a look around, there were thousands of Sooty Shearwaters moving offshore so I sat down to do a bit of a sea watch. Birds of note were couple of Cape Petrels, 30+ Southern Fulmar, 10+ White Chinned Petrel and a single Great Shearwater. As I was leaving to go down Yorke Bay I saw a Peregrine Falcon sat on a fence post with a bird in its talons, I am pretty sure it is a Sooty Shearwater.
Just after I parked up at Yorke Bay pond I found two Pectoral Sandpipers they are possibly the two birds that I found there at the end of October.
I left the two Pectoral Sandpipers feeding and carried on over the marshy area up from the pond, I then found three more Pectoral Sandpipers together, I quickly checked that the other two were still where I left which they were. So there are 5 birds present which I suspect are all new into the area.
Other birds seen this evening around Yorke Bay pond included 6 Magellanic Snipe, Rufous Chested Dotterel including a small chick, White Rumped Sandpiper, Two Banded Plover and a single White Tufted Grebe on the pond.
On the way out to Goose Green on Friday I stopped at the two small ponds opposite Gull Island pond on the Mare Harbour road. Micky Reeves had seen a male Cinnamon Teal there the week before. Not long after getting there I saw the Cinnamon Teal come out from the bank. It was in a flock of about 50 Speckled Teal and 6 Silver Teal.
Yesterday evening I found two Baird’s Sandpipers down at the pools on Cape Pembroke near Stanley Airport, they are the first Baird’s I have seen for over a month which seem to be much scarcer this year than normal.
On Friday we went out to Goose Green for the weekend picking up Steve Copsey http://www.surfbirds.com/community-blogs/amigo/ from Mare Harbour on the way, Steve is station onboard HMS Protector at the moment and was stopping in the Falklands for a while before headed down into Antarctica. The hightlight of the weekend was 4 Barn Owls around the Settlement.
Today at 16:00 we boarded the B-Mar launch to head out a couple of miles off Cape Pembroke to look for seabirds. Soon after leaving Port William we found a huge feeding flock of King Cormorants and South American Terns also present were Rockhopper, Magellanic, Gentoo Penguins with Cape Petrel, Southern Fulmar and Black Browed Albatross.
We then then headed out to start chumming for seabirds, soon after we started we had Black Browed Albatross, Southern Giant Petrel, Southern Fulmar & Cape Petrel feeding at the back of the launch. after a further 10 minutes we had our first White Chinned Petrel & Wilson’s Petrel join the feeding flock.
Above images taken by Pete Wilson
At one point we had up to 20+ Wilson’s Petrels dancing feeding at the back of the launch. Soon the chum ran out and we headed for Cochon Island to look at where the Rockhopper Penguins breed. We finished the day watching a family pod of Peale’s Dolphins including a very small calf. So ended the Naturetrek Tour 2012. We finished with 58 species of birds and some unforgettable highlights.
Again today we were down at Elephant Point in the hope of seeing the Orca’s hunting, unfortunately there was no sign probably due to the very strong Northerly wind that was blowing. So we headed back to the lodge for breakfast and to catch our flight back to Stanley at 09:30.
The flight had been delayed due to the high winds. We did add White Chinned Petrel and Wilson Petrel to the trip list during the morning but both birds were seen very briefly and not by all the group. We eventually left about 13:15 for the flight to Stanley. Once in Stanley the clients went to the Malvina House Hotel and I went home. Tomorrow the plan is to do a bit of a pelagic of Cape Pembroke.
After lunch we went down to the north beach to watch the Gentoo Penguins coming ashore and to look for a juvenile King Penguin that had been reported the evening before. After finding the King Penguin and spending a bit of time watching the Gentoo Penguins we walked further down the beach to where there were a large number of Southern Giant Petrels.
We soon came across the reason for all the birds being on the beach it was a carcass of a bull Southern Elephant Seal that the Striated Caracara, Turkey Vultures and Southern Giant Petrels were feeding on.
As we got close to the feeding birds I noticed a couple of Northern Giant Petrels in amongst the Southern Giant Petrels.
After supper I went for another walk down to the Southern Elephant Seal Carcass, passing a couple of Falkland Skua feeding on a Gentoo Penguin chick on the way.
At the carcass there were still plenty of Southern Giant Petrels, Striated Caracaras a couple of Northern Giant Petrels patrolling the beach. A Cape Petrel flew very close to the beach near the carcass.
Again a few of us were up very early and down at Elephant Point by 05:45, as I was walking down there I could see that there were loads of Giant Petrels and Gull flying about so I guessed the Orca’s were about. Not long after getting there I could see a couple just of the rocks and also saw the female very close in the pool.
At about 06:05 the female caught a young Southern Elephant Seal swimming across the channel leading to the pool. After she caught it she took it out to deep water and was joined by her calf and another young animal. They spent over an hour with the seal before finally killing it. During this time they had been joined by two other Orca’s.
They caught a second young Southern Elephant Seal at about 09:10 which again they kept alive but by 09:30 they were out of view and we did not see them again.
We were all up very early today and at Elephant Point by 06:00 in the hope of seeing the Orca’s hunting Southern Elephant Seals, after a couple of hours it became apparent that they would not be showing probably due to the very strong wind. We did see the large Black Crowned Night Heron that is there and had the company of lots of Tussucbirds and Magellanic Penguins.
After breakfast we spent time with the Gentoo Penguins that are split into lots of groups, there were 4000+ pairs breeding on Sea Lion Island last year when they were counted.
After the Gentoo’s we went down to the North and South beach where saw a few Cape Petrels in the quite strong wind. On the beach we watched a David and Goliath type battle in the form of a Tussucbird pecking the nose of a big Southern Elephant Seal.
After lunch we had a walk to the Gulch, on the way we saw a few Magellanic Snipe, Two banded Plover, Rufous Chested Dotterel, Grass Wren, White Bridled Finch, Falkland Thrush and a pair of Peregrine Falcons only the second time we had seen them on the trip.
At the Gulch I showed the group where all the stores, building materials, fuel etc are landed on Sea Lion Island.
Up early again today to have a quick look around before we left Carcass to take a 40 minute flight to Sea Lion Islands. I went down to the beach to photograph some of the ringed Striated Caracaras that form part of an ongoing Falkland Conservation project.
When we arrived a t Sea Lion Island we quickly got the rooms sorted and headed to Rockhopper Point we as the name suggests there is a Rockhopper Penguin colony. In front of the Rockhopper Penguins there is a memorial to HMS Sheffield that was hit on 4th May 1982 by an Exocet missile.
We then walked back to the settlement seeing Rufous Chested Dotterel, Two Banded Plover, Magellanic Oystercatcher, White Bridled Finch, Falkland Thrush, Dark Faced Ground Tyrant, Grass Wren, Striated Caracara, Turkey Vulture, Magellanic Penguin, Crested Duck, Silver Teal, Speckled Teal, Ruddy Headed Goose and Upland Goose to name a few.
At Elephant Point there were 100’s of Southern Elephant Seals on the beach and we have good but brief views of a couple of Orca’s offshore in the Kelp.