A month ago, we visited an outlying island of the Falklands (as a birthday present).
This month - it was an Anniversary, and I didn't think the gift of a rare banana would suffice, so booked a couple of nights on another island - Bleaker. (Name may have been "Breaker" after the waves that break over its reefs.) . We tend to go to bleak places for holidays - Iceland, Rannoch Moor, etc, so thought "Bleaker" would be a good spot.....
|Rocky & Roxanne packed and ready for the trip|
Arrived 25 minutes before scheduled take-off, paid for flight, got weighed (same weight as last flight, so the new home-baking hasn't had an adverse effect, yet!), and soon we were flying over Stanley Harbour and south to Bleaker Island.
|The floating dock facility at Stanley. Tug, trawler and cruise ship..|
|Coming in to "land", Bleaker Island|
|Lots of water to avoid|
|Bleaker airport arrival / departure lounge|
Bleaker Island - http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bleaker_Island
It's a low-lying, treeless island about 20 miles long and very narrow. It's home to about 1,000 sheep, 40 cattle, 4 people, several thousand cormorants, a couple of hundred (probably more) penguins, plovers, geese, skuas and 10 black-necked swans. The sheep, cattle and geese keep the grass and shrubs down, where they graze, but around the coast the tussac grass grows in profusion, providing shelter for the Magellanic penguins.
|View south from kitchen|
|A good drying day...|
|The Settlement. Houses for owners, managers and 16 guests.|
And to cap it all, I had been told about Bleaker Island by one of the Nordic Walkers in Richmond Park. She had met the owners whilst on holiday in South America, and suggested it would be a great place to visit. You were right, Carolyn. Thanks!
|Upland geese, and main course|
|A carpet of penguin feathers, with airport in distance|
|Jimmy (or Jemima?) the Gentoo|
|Stand out from the crowd|
|Almost empty beach|
|The water's lovely|
Meanwhile, apart from the accommodation and the food - the wildlife was great, too! On one ridge, we saw a line of hundreds of black and white birds. "Gentoos!" I said, confidently. But as we got closer, I noticed the sheer cliffs all around and wondered how any penguin could get to such an inaccessible spot?
|I thought these were penguins, but actually cormorants - c. 10,000|
|Thousands of them.|
|A constant stream of cormorants overhead....|
We reckoned about 200-300 birds were taking off in the same direction (into the wind) every minute. And at that rate, it would be over an hour before the flock had dispersed. It was amazing to join the penguins on the cliff-top and watch these endless echelons fly over one's head, so close you could hear the wings beating.
|Magellanic penguins wondering what it would be like to fly!|
|Magellanic penguin out for a stroll.|
|Rockhoppers, without bibs.|
|Spot the non-penguin|
|Nearly finished moulting|
|Ol' Red-eye himself|
|Black-necked swan family out at sea...|
|Neighbourly Penguins and sheep|
If you wanted somewhere more exclusive, there are about 700 islands in the Falklands, and here's someone who has bought their own Falklands Island -
Food for thought.
Just back from a lovely 10 mile Sunday walk on pristine beaches, near the Mount Pleasant Airport complex. More details later.