11 Feb 2024

16 Jan 23 - The Antarctica Trip - Landbirds On Carcass Island In West Falkland

We had enjoyed a good start to the landing on Carcass Island in West Falkland. There had been a good selection of photogenic species on the beach, including the two Falkland endemic species for the islands: Falkland Steamerducks and Cobb's Wren. Additionally, we had visited the Penguin colonies and see nice views of Magellanic Penguins and Gentoo Penguins. Finally, it was time for the two and a half mile walk to the settlement across the grasslands of the island.
A panoramic view of the bay and the settlement
The settlement has the largest area of trees on the island
We saw a few of the other island resident species as we walked to the settlement.
Sedge Wren: This is the falklandicus subspecies which is endemic to the Falklands
Sedge Wren
White-bridled Finch: This is the nominate melanodera subspecies which is endemic to the Falklands. It was a nice bonus Tick, as it's not a species I had seen on the South American mainland: as most records are from parts of Argentina & Chile that I haven't visited
White-bridled Finch: The other subspecies occurs in the llanos of South Chile & Argentina to Tierra del Fuego
Long-tailed Meadowlark: This is the falklandicus subspecies which is endemic to the Falklands
Long-tailed Meadowlark: There are two other subspecies: one occurs in South Chile & South Argentina to Tierra del Fuego and the other occurs in North West Argentina
In addition to the every present Brown Skuas, the island's Birds have to keep an eye out for Turkey Vultures and the Striated Caracaras.
Turkey Vulture: This is the jota subspecies which occurs from the Pacific coast of Ecuador to Tierra del Fuego & the Falklands
There was some excellent homemade cakes and hot drinks at the settlement. With the largest area of trees on the island, it was no surprise that there were a few other Passerines around the settlement. It was also where we saw the Striated Caracaras.
Striated Caracara: Adults have a yellow orange crop when they have eaten well
Striated Caracara: It's good to see somebody is studying these Striated Caracaras: this individual has a numbered colour ring on its leg
Striated Caracara: This monotypic species occurs in Tierra del Fuego, on the neighbouring Staten & Navarino Islands, as well as, the Falklands
Striated Caracara: Immatures have a whitish crop
Striated Caracara: One of the things about Birds on remote islands is they adapt to finding food wherever it occurs. I don't think I've seen a mainland Caracara on a beach before
Striated Caracara
Austral Thrush: An adult showing the result of the breeding season on this rugged island. This is the nominate falcklandii subspecies which is endemic to the Falklands
Austral Thrush: Juveniles have spotted breasts and look quite different from the adults
Black-chinned Siskin: This monotypic species occurs from central Chile & South Argentina to Tierra del Fuego the Falklands
All too soon we were being encouraged to leave the remaining cakes and head to the jetty, so we could get the zodiacs back to the Plancius. However, the sooner we were onboard, the sooner the ship could depart for the short journey to our afternoon landing on West Point Island.
Rock Shag: This monotypic species occurs on the coasts of Chile, Argentina & the Falklands
Southern Elephant Seal: They have a wide range in Subantarctic waters. There are three main ranges in the Atlantic, Indian Oceans and New Zealand Subantarctic waters. In the Atlantic, they breed on the Valdes Peninsula in Argentina, the Falklands & South Georgia. In the Indian Ocean they breed on the Kerguelen Islands, the Crozet Islands, Marion and Prince Edward Islands, Heard & Amsterdam Islands. The third subpopulation is found on Macquarie Island & the New Zealand Subantarctic islands. Additionally, a few breed in Antarctica
Southern Elephant Seal
Southern Elephant Seal
It was a short ride back to the Plancius
We had a dry jetty for the return journey: Oceanwide provide all passengers with the loan of insulated wellies, so wet landings are not a problem
I grabbed a coffee, skipped lunch & stayed on deck in the hope of seeing a pod of Commerson's Dolphins. Sadly, I was unsuccessful. Still I didn't need lunch after several portions of chocolate cake.