Monday 10 April 2023

The Falklands, a bonus day and bonus Macaroni Penguin

When we arrived back from our Volunteer Point trip, we were advised that our holiday rep wanted to speak with us. Our flight home had been bumped back 24 hours. Apparently this is not uncommon with military flights to and from The Falklands. For us it meant and extra day to our trip, and a chance to book another trip. We'd still not caught up with Macaroni Penguin and there were a couple still in the Rockhopper colony at Kidney Cove, which is about 1.5 hours from Stanley. 

We booked a half day trip, to allow us time to visit the museum in Stanley when we got back.  

Rockhopper left / Macaroni right


A bonus was a Sei Whale blowing off shore from our vantage Point at the Rockhopper colony. The final two bird for the trip list were fittingly both penguins; 50. King Penguin and 51. Macaroni Penguin.  

It was a long journey home, around 26 hours door to door, but it was so worth it. The trip was so much.  better than I had envisaged. 

Falklands, Volunteer Point King Penguin colony

 I had been looking forward to visiting the King Penguin colony at Volunteer Point from the moment we arrived on The Falklands. Today was supposed to be the last day of our trip, and what a way to end it. It turned out we stayed and extra day and night. 

We had an early start to get to Volunteer Point. All credit to Falkland Wildlife Holidays who looked after us whilst there. They were aware that a cruise ship was due in and that meant the hoards would descend on Volunteer Point, but if we could get there early we would hopefully have some time on our own with the King Penguins. 

From Stanley it's a 2.5 hour drive to Volunteer Point, with 1.5 hours of that off road across very bumpy terrain. 

We were the first vehicle to arrive on site. We had to colony to ourselves. I am so glad we did it this way, as when the cruise passengers turned up 1.5 hours later, it would have been  a very different experience.  


We headed away from the colony to the nearby pristine white sand beach. There were still no other day trippers so again we had the whole place to ourselves. 

Watching me, watching you 

In the distance we could see a large convoy of vehicles heading out way, so we headed back to have one last look at the colony 

Falklands - Sea Lion Island, day 3 - Orcas!

We only had until about 3pm before we were due to fly back to Stanley. We decided to spend the time we had on the two main beaches closest to the lodge, enjoying the penguins and seeing what else we could find.   

To get to the north beach we had to walk through a mixed colony of Gentoo and Magellanic penguins. The Gentoos are particularly inquisitive and will come up and say hi.

Once at the beach we plotted up somewhere comfortable and just enjoyed our surroundings for a couple of hours. I managed really good views of a number of Snowy Sheathbill, a weird pigeon type looking seabird. There were hundreds of penguins, mostly Gentoo, on the beach, plus lots of Black Browed Albatross and Giant Petrels.  

Snowy Sheathbill

Gentoos in the surf

Black Footed Albatross

We then gave south beach a go, said hi to the Elephant Seals again, and it was then we stumbled across a large skeleton on the beach. Initially we thought it was a cetacean and said we'd take some fellow guests to the beach to show them after lunch.    

It was actually an Elephant Seal skeleton, minus the skull

Back at the lodge, we were informed that Lars, a Danish guest, had seen an Orca distantly off south beach this morning. Damn! We'd already planned to go back to look at the skeleton so the plan was to plot up in the dunes with a great view of the sea and keep out fingers crossed. Julia sat up in the dunes and I went to show the skeleton. I left the other guests looking at it and headed back to Julia. As soon as I got back Julia says that she thinks she's seen a large fin distantly. We keep scanning and boom!

Initially there were distant 

Two orcas initially distantly (1/2 mile) off shore. Over the next 20-30 minutes they steadily appeared to be getting closer to the shore, and as they got closer more fins appeared, there were 5 of them. They cruised just off shore, around 50 metres out providing superb views for the next hour.   


We we having so much fun that time had ran away with us and we had to make a hasty retreat back to the lodge as our plane was due in 30 minutes to take us back to Stanley. Our short stop over on Sea Lion Island had been truly magical. A must be anyone visiting The Falklands. 

Birds added to the trip list on Sea Lion Island were: 45. Snowy Sheathbill; 46. Magellanic Snipe;       47. Sooty Shearwater; 48. South American Tern and 49. Brown Hooded Gull  

Tuesday 4 April 2023

Falklands, Sea Lion Island - day 2

Mickey, our host and a keen birder, took us out in a 4x4 for an orientation tour of the far of the island, so we could decide where we wanted to visit with the remainder of our time on the island.  On our morning travels we added Magellanic Snipe, Brown Hooded Gull, Sooty Shearwater and South American Tern, before a visit to a Rockhopper colony.

Magellanic Snipe

We also stopped off to see some Sea Lions which involved leaning over the edge of a cliff which isn't my cup of tea, so a quick look and back to the lodge for lunch. 

In the afternoon it was back out to the main beaches by the lodge, getting up close and personal with the Elephant Seals, the penguins, and a couple of other birds, thrown in for good measure.  

Black Chinned Siskin - common around the lodge

Dolphin Gull - very smart



Giant Southern Petrel

South American Tern - always distant

Black Throated Finch - seen mainly scuttling around on the ground