Wednesday, 29 February 2012

Sunday Stroll to Gypsy Cove


 One cool, but dry, Sunday, we took a stroll around Stanley Harbour to Gypsy Cove, where we hoped there would be some penguins.  We strolled down the hill from home, cutting through through the Memorial Wood, where a tree has been planted to commemorate each of the 255 members of British Forces killed in the Falklands War.  There are very few trees in the Falklands, so these make an impact.

We also passed some long-tailed Meadowlarks, or Military Starling (or Robin, so-called because of their red breasts).
FIPASS dock facility
We followed the shore path, to the edge of town and then passed the potato fields of Stanley Growers.  I noticed some daffodils were growing - presumably for St David's Day.  I'm not sure how they convince the daffs it's Spring, but maybe someone with better gardening knowledge can explain?

The looming hulk of FIPASS (Floating Interim Port And Storage Systems) appeared in the harbour.  These massive floating warehouses and offices were towed here after the '82 war, and are now used as docks, and offices.  Nearby, is the excellent Seamen's Mission, which does great lunches at very reasonable prices.

Eventually, we passed the industrial estate on the outskirts of town, crossed a bridge (built by Royal Engineers) over a creek and out to the 'unspoilt' bays and coves surrounding Stanley Airport.
The Plym and the Lady Elizabeth
 Stanley Harbour, and indeed all the coast of the Falklands, is littered with shipwrecks, indicating the treacherous coastline and unpredictable weather.  Many are wooden sailing ships from the 1800s, but these two above are iron ships, making journeys around Cape Horn, just prior to the opening of the Panama Canal in 1914, which completely changed the trade routes.
Magellanic penguins in Yorke Bay
I say 'unspoilt', as, unfortunately, this is one of the parts of the coastline that is suspected of having plastic mines washed up on.  Fine for penguins, but a no-go area for people.  There is a team of mine-clearers working near Stanley, but it may be years before their work is done.
Last few penguin chicks
The penguins were there, but only a few chicks remained onshore.  The others have already ventured out into the bay to feed for themselves.
WW2 gun overlooking Port William
 The Falklands have had significant battles in the the First and Second World Wars, and there are memorials to these around Stanley.  During World War 2, this gun guarded the entrance of Stanley Harbour, where a fleet of  warships anchored in September 1939.  But they moved out to hunt down the German battleship "Admiral Graf Spee", which was seeking repairs in Montevideo, Uruguay, 1,000 miles north.
Stanley, through the Narrows,  and mountains from Gypsy Cove
The "Admiral Graf Spee" was eventually scuttled after a tense standoff:  the first loss to the German Navy of the war.  There's a great film about it.  For more details of the battle, go here -
Windpower harnessed for fun
 On our return journey, we saw a queue of cars at the Garden Centre.  Little did we know a batch of bananas had arrived!  More on fruit and veg later.
Moon and Venus above Stanley
The weather has been still and the skies clear for the last few days.  The night sky is particularly "busy" at the moment, with several planets in view.

"Remember, no matter how far away you are, we are looking at the same moon".  That's from a very clever and thoughtful friend.  It helps connect us to old friends.



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