Tuesday, 21 March 2023

Pebble Island - Day 1

We were up early for a 7am flight from Stanley to Pebble Island. The flight, in a six seater prop plane takes around 40 minutes. 

Flying over Stanley on the way to Pebble Island

The grass air strip is just minutes away from the lodge/settlement, and our host Riki was there to meet us. We had a very comfortable ensuite room and stayed on a full board basis, with the food really good. Pebble Island is big and even with a 4x4 it cannot be done in a day. We had one day pre-planned as fully guided, another with a drop off/pick up service and the remainder of day 1, Riki said he'd take us out locally so we can get our bearings. 

Julia opted to unpack and relax but I was immediately out. There were birds all around the lodge and just 100m from the front of the lodge was the shore line. I was back by lunch time having already racked up a decent number of birds for the trip list.

1. Long Tailed Meadowlark (called Robin or Military Starling by the locals), 2. Giant Southern Petrel, 3. Black Crowned Night Heron, 4. Black Browed Albatross, 5. Rock Cormorant, 6. Imperial Cormorant, 7. Ruddy Headed Goose, 8. Falkland Skua, 9. Upland Goose, 10. Kelp Goose, 11. Dolphin Gull, 12. Patagonian Crested Duck, 13. Falkland Flightless Steamer Duck (endemic), 14. Turkey Vulture, 15. Crested Caracara, 16. Pied Oystercatcher, 17. Dark Faced Ground Tryant, 18. House Sparrow, 19. Dark Chinned Siskin, 20. Black Throated Finch. 

Long Tailed Meadow Lark

Falkland Skua with distant Black Browed Albatross

Crested Caracara

After lunch we headed out with Riki in a 4x4 to a long white sand beach about 1 mile away. There are no roads or paths, so a jeep type vehicle is required, ideally with 4x4 just in case. As we climbed over the dunes to get on to the beach the site that greeted us was amazing. It was stunning. We were the only people on the beach, which appeared to be a few miles long. We spend the next hour or so on the beach watching Black Browed Albatross and Giant Petrels fly low overhead whilst Commerson's Dolphins darted between the waves close in to shore. We drove the far end of the beach so Riki could show us where to exit it, if we needed to. 

One of many hundreds of Black Browed Albatross seen on the Falklands

Black Oystercatcher

Riki then suggested he drop us at Big Pond, that he said was good for grebes and duck, and less than a mile walk back to the lodge. So we spent the next hour or so there before heading back to the lodge to freshen up before dinner.                                  

White Tufted Grebes (above/below)

White Rumped Sandpipers

Falkland Pipit - on our way back to the lodge

By the end of day 1 on Pebble Island, the trip list stood at 30 bird species, plus Commerson's Dolphins: 21, White Tufted Grebe, 22. Silvery Grebe, 23. Kelp Gull, 24. Black Necked Swan, 25. Yellow Billed Teal, 26. Silver Teal, 27. Rufus Chested Dotterel, 29. Black Oystercatcher, 30. Falkland Pipit.   

Back at the lodge after a freshen up and a lovely three course evening meal, we retired to the lounge for a few drinks from the honesty bar. 


The Falkland Islands - overview

Julia and I booked a 2 week land based wildlife holiday on The Falkland Islands via Wildfoot Travel. We flew with the RAF from Brize Norton in Oxfordshire, via Cape Verde. Six hours to Cape Verde, 2.5 hrs lay over, then 10.5 hours across to The Falklands. 


Day 1            overnight flight to The Falklands as above

Day 2            overnight in Stanley (1 night)

Days 3-5       Pebble Island (3 nights)

Days 6-8       Carcass Island (3 nights) - inc. trip to West Point (Black Browed Albatross colony)

Days 9-10     Sea Lion Island (2 nights)

Days 11-12   Stanley (2 nights) - inc. trip to Volunteer Point (King Penguin colony)*

Day 13          Return flight to UK

* our return flight to the UK was delayed by 24 hours so we stayed an additional night in Stanley and booked a half day guided trip to Kidney Cove       

Sunday, 17 July 2022

Hornbills - Borneo May '22

We saw five of the eight hornbill species; the four below, plus Black Hornbill, which I didn't get a photo of, 

Bushy Crested Hornbill

                                                                    Rhinoceros Hornbill

                                                                            Pied Hornbill

                                                                    Wrinkled Hornbill

Orangutan - Borneo May '22

Our main target when visiting Borneo was to see Oranutan in the wild. We were lucky and saw two; one nest building distantly at dusk and this magnificent creature, on our first boat trip out.


Monday, 13 June 2022

Changeable Hawk Eagle - Borneo May 2022


I hadn't noticed the large monitor lizard on the branch until I started processing the photos on my lap top. 

I only spotted this bird as I saw a Black and Yellow Broadbill fly into the tree, put my bins up and there it was.  

Friday, 10 June 2022

Eleonora's Falcon, Worth Marsh, Kent - 29 May 22

 Eleonora's Falcon is yet another bird I never expected to see in the UK. I've seen a few in Spain, but not for many years. So when news broke of one in Kent, less than 1.5 hrs from home I has everything crossed it would stay a while. The reason being, I was in Borneo! Luckily for me the bird stayed well over a week allowing me to go go see it with Shaun, the day after I got home. 

It showed incredibly well to the 100 or so gathered, perched up just 30-40 feet away. 

The day got even better when we travelled just 30 mins to South Foreland hoping to connect with a very elusive Sardinian Warbler that had been found a couple of days earlier but had been very difficult to see buried deep in cover. 

We arrived to be told it has been heard singing and calling but only seen by 1 or 2 individuals. Within 20 minutes or so it could be heard signing nearby. We stood in silence trying to pick out any movement in deep cover, and then boom! It flew out and over the path into more cover. 

It was my first 2 tick day in many many years. Really enjoyable day and great company with Shaun.  

Monday, 27 September 2021

Black Throated Thrush - Whipsnade Zoo

Not a life tick, but what a smart bird. This Black Throated Thrush was only 2nd in the UK, and being just an hour away, I just had to go see it. Birding pal, Lee @indoorstoomuch, needed it for a lifer so it would have been rude not to join him.

The bird had taken up resindence at Whipsnade Zoo of all places, but it was well worth stumping up the £25 entrance fee to see it.