Tuesday, 4 June 2013

"Dear Warden of the Penguin Resort, Falkland Islands"

[This is an occasional insight into a life in the Falkland Islands from the view of an expat living here for a few years.   After a recent foray "Up North" to the UK, life is settling into a routine with the onset of winter.....]
Damp horses on winter grazing.

After our hectic trip to the UK in April and May, it's been back to a more sedate pace of life in Stanley.  For some, it means going to work and returning home, in the dark.  For others, it means taking your horses to common grazing land outside Stanley.

Winter Dawn
Making an appearance in Stanley are BBQ huts, advertised as a comfortable way of enjoying the outdoor BBQ experience, but without risking hypothermia while the lamb steaks cook!   I've seen similar solutions in Scandinavia where grilled elk can be enjoyed without freezing in snow.  I wonder is open-air saunas will catch on here?  Watch out for a forthcoming report on the Midwinter Dip!
"Outdoor" BBQ hut
On the wildlife front, I haven't seen any penguins in the last month, but there are still lots of native birds and animals, and even some introduced species such as hares, which you can spot while out walking.
Endemic Flightless Steamer Duck
So, with the desire for some sunshine and wildlife spotting, a few of us set off on a blustery (alright, windy) day to see what we could see......
"To the Lighthouse!"
Cape Pembroke is the most easterly point of the Falkland Island, about 7 miles east of Stanley.  The lighthouse is no longer in use, but inside are displays of how the lighthouse keepers lived, prior to 1982, when the  imminent Argentine invasion prompted the Governor to order the light be put out.  (A smaller, automatic,  light a few yards away now guides marine traffic).
View from the top.  Next land is 12,000 miles  that way.
And, even on a blustery day, it makes a wonderful walk through the sand dunes to reach this point.  Talk about "Blowing away the cobwebs"!
Into the breeze
We did see some wildlife - including a house mouse and a variable hawk (both too quick for my  camera skills).  But it was invigorating just watching the huge rollers smash into the rocks that marked the end of the Falklands.  The next land due east is the west coast of Chile, 12,700 miles distant.  So these waves had had a long time to build up their energy.
A more peaceful day.

The public jetty
Around Stanley, the winter gives an opportunity to build or rebuild public buildings which would otherwise be in use during the tourist season (November to April).
Filling in the harbour
The public jetty, where most cruise ship passengers come ashore, is to have a long-term upgrade, and this currently involves truckloads of rocks being dumped in the harbour.  But the final vision is to  have a smart development which will welcome tourist and round-the-world sailors to this safe haven.  A far cry from the "Danger: Keep Off" sign that is often the first sight visitors see!
Multi-coloured Nordic Walkers, overlooking Stanley harbour.
The photo above was taken near Gypsy Cove, where I worked during the recent tourist season as a Warden at a penguin colony.   We had thousands of visitors this year, but one lady felt moved to write and thank the team for helping to find her sunglasses.
The vultures gather on a Stanley roof.
The postcard, from Ushuaia in Tierra del Fuego, which was probably her next port of call, was addressed to -
"The Warden in Charge
Gypsy Cove Penguin Resort
Falkland Islands

"Dear Warden,
I sincerely appreciate the trouble you took and effort you expended in finding my sunglasses.  Thanks a lot for going the extra mile to find them, Regards,  "

How nice of her to take the trouble to write and thank us, and I just love the idea of a "Penguin Resort".   In some ways, it was a resort for the penguins who travelled south from Brazil to breed, meet up with old friends and raise a family, before heading back to warmer beaches in the Autumn.

In May, the temperature here reached a balmy 13C, but also plummeted to -2C!

If you want to visit this particular resort, the Tourist Board site is a good starting point >

More soon,

As a postscript to our UK trip, we had been asked by friends to bring back some fresh fruit, so we paid a visit to a farmers market in England.  Unfortunately, despite recent relaxations on importing fruit into the Falklands from abroad, we hadn't noticed that melons were still on the banned list!

I considered having this blog entitled "Custom Officers grab my wife's melons!", but I was told that wasn't a good idea......So, that's goodnight from me....!


  1. pete, the outdoor bbq seems to be next to a cemetery, are you sure it isn't actually a crematorium? i'd check before you grill any more lamb steaks,

    enjoying your posts,


    1. Good point, Ade. Glad you like the posts. Any questions about the Falklands, let me know!