Birding in the Falkland Islands – 16 Dec 2017

Overall a surprisingly good day out birding on Cape Pembroke and Gypsy Cove. Photographs of birds include Brown-hooded Gull, Two-banded Plover, Rock Shag, Magellanic Oystercatcher, Magellanic Snipe, Magellanic Penguin, Upland Goose, Falkland Pipit, Black-crowned Night-heron as well as Rufous-chested Dotterel.

Brown-hooded Gull – Larus maculipennis

A resident species, that is also the smallest and without a doubt the least common Falkland gull. The estimated population of birds in 1997 was 1400 to 2600 pairs.The adult bird is pearly grey above with a  characteristic white leading edge to the wing. Four birds altogether were observed, all adults in breeding plumage (August – February). Underparts are white with a variable pink suffusion; head chocolate-brown with a partial white eye ring; slender bill and also crimson legs.


Two-banded Plover – Charadrius falklandicus

Following a census in 1997, the estimated population of these resident and widely distributed birds was 7000-13000 pairs. The birds feed chiefly on small invertebrates picked from heaps of rotted kelp, from mussel beds exposed at low tide or from short grass.

The birds Breed during September and December. Afterwards, adult plumage fades during the summer. During the observations two plovers flew in and landed 3-4 meters away from me, whilst simultaneously, i was laying on the beach photographing the gulls.


Rock Shag – Phalacrocorax magellanicus

Resident and widely distributed around coasts, nesting on cliff edges.This is the smaller shag of the Falklands species. The bright orange-red facial skin of the adults is a distinctive feature. Adults are glossy black above and on the neck, with white underparts and during the breeding season, a white cheek patch; many have irregular patches on the neck. All photographs taken whilst birding on the cliffs east of Surf Bay.


Magellanic OystercatcherHaematopus lecopodus

A bird species that is resident, common and widespread around low lying coasts and their adjacent slopes. The estimated population in 1997 was estimated to be 7000-13000 pairs. The Magellanic Oystercatcher is handsomely patterned shiny black on head, breast and back with white beneath. The long, bright orange-red bill, striking deep yellow eye and yellow eye ring contrast sharply with the stout pink legs. There was two young with the adults, they nest between September and December.


Magellanic Snipe – Gallinago paraguaiae magellanica

Resident, widespread in varied habitats from wet moorland, dry slopes with diddle-dee, open coastal tussac paddocks and beaches with rotted kelp. Estimated population in 1997 was 5000 to 9000 pairs. A small, ground loving shorebird with a very long bill, the snipe appears sandy-buff with dark brown markings as it runs through low vegetation. The head has broad black and buff stripes from bill to nape and a large dark eye set high; back and wings are speckled with chestnut and buff with two broad buff lines either side of the back; underparts white, heavily mottled with dark brown on neck, breast and flanks. Photograph taken whilst birding on Cape Pembroke. I was looking for orchids as they like similar habitats, i could hear the ‘harsh skerp’ call of a pair of snipe.


Rufous-chested Dotterel – Charadrius modestus

Widespread, resident, though probably partially migratory. Estimated population in 1997 11000 to 21000 pairs. A beautiful long-legged bird has a blue-grey face, and throat, chestnut breast with a heavy black crescent separating it from the white belly; crown, nape and back are dark brown. In breeding plumage August to December, this is set off by a  startling broad white head stripe round the forehead, extending above and behind the eye. These two birds followed me for half an hour, whilst i was looking for orchids.


Falkland Pipit – Anthus correndera grayi

Resident endemic subspecies that is widespread inland. Estimated population in 1997 was 8000 to 15000 pairs. Inconspicuous; buff heavily streaked dark brown above, paler below streaked with black on breast and flanks; tail brown with clear white outer edges; bill broad-based, tapering sharply, horn coloured and the legs and feet are pale pink, with a long, almost straight hind claw. . It took a fair effort to get close enough to take this image.


Magellanic Penguin – Spheniscus magellanicus

Summer resident penguin. Locally called a ‘Jackass’ penguin, with the name derived from its loud mournful braying call, a typical sound of the Falklands summer. The Jackass is the only species in the Islands that lays its eggs in burrows. Adults have a conspicuous black and white bands on head, neck and breast, a stout black and grey bill and pink skin around the eye. Legs and feet are blackish flecked with white. Immatures have a greyish throat and foreneck and lack the striking head pattern.

Black-crowned Night-heron – Nycticorax nycticorax falklandicus

A resident species, that is widespread around the coasts. The estimated population following a census in 1997 was estimated at 1900 to 3600 pairs. Heavily built and short necked, this is the only Falkland heron. The adult has dark grey wings and tail and grey underparts while the back and cap are shiny black with one to three thin white plumes up to 20cm long, at the nape.


Upland GooseChloephaga picta leucoptera

This endemic subspecies is resident, but very widely distributed. The Upland Goose nests during August and November.


To conclude that most of the text supplied in this blog has been taken from Birds and Mammals of the Falkland Islands by Robin and Anne Woods with photographs by Alan Henry

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Author: andypollard77

I am a 5th generation Falkland Island amateur photographer, taking the opportunity to enjoy the full diversity that the Islands has available. I hope, over the next couple of years, to photograph many of its wonders

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