27 Feb 2024

17 Jan 23 - The Antarctica Trip - Some Gorgeous Geese

My cabin mate, Steve Preddy, & I teamed up to search for some Ruddy-headed Geese when we got off the Plancius in Port Stanley. We didn't have any specific sites, but asked as the tourist information & they quickly directed up to an old boy who had lived all of his life on the Falklands and had a beaten up old Land Rover. He had a few ideas for sites we could try & we were quickly heading off towards the airport area. It was good to bump into a couple of Two-banded Plovers and a South American Snipe.
Two-banded Plover: This monotypic species occurs in South Chile & Argentina, as well as, the Falklands. They winter as far North as South Brazil
Two-banded Plover
South American SnipeThis is the magellanica subspecies which occurs from central Chile & Argentina to Tierra del Fuego & the Falklands. When I convert my World List to using IOC taxonomy, I will get a bonus Tick as I saw the other subspecies of South American Snipe at the two lagoons I visited near Buenos Aires earlier in the trip. IOC calls this species Magellanic Snipe and the other species is called as Pantanal Snipe
The airport sites didn't work out, but we were undaunted and carried on looking on rough tracks to the South of Port Stanley.
One of the beaches on our search for some Ruddy-headed Geese
We carried on searching to the South of Port Stanley and eventually bumped into a party of seven Ruddy-headed Geese in a larger party of Upland Geese.
Ruddy-headed Goose: This monotypic species is resident on the Falklands. They also breed in the South of Patagonia & Tierra del Fuego and this population migrates North as far as Southern Buenos Aires
Ruddy-headed Goose: They are a bit smaller than Upland Geese, however, that might be tricky to figure out if only one species is present
Ruddy-headed Goose: Both sexes have similar markings and they have finer black barring on the body which continues further up the neck and a very conspicuous ruddy coloured vent
Ruddy-headed Goose
Ruddy-headed Goose
Ruddy-headed Goose
Ruddy-headed Goose: A more appropriate name might be Ruddy-vented Goose as this is the most obvious feature, especially at a distance
Upland Goose: Pair. Female Upland Geese do not have the ruddy coloured vent and have bolder black barring on the body. It's is also easier if they are accompanied by a similar-sized male
Upland Goose: Male. The males are very obvious
Having succeeded on the Wild Goose hunt, we were dropped back in Port Stanley. It didn't take long for either of us to agree to a coffee & some celebratory cake in one of the local cafes. Excellent cake eaten & coffee drunk, there was time for a quick look along the waterfront of Port Stanley.
The Cathedral: It looks about a big as large town church. However, the population of Port Stanley is only about two and a half thousand people
Having closely followed the Falklands campaign whilst at university, then it was good to see the respect and recognition for the guys involved in liberating the Falklands.
The War Memorial
The War Memorial
The War Memorial
Memorial to HMS Coventry: Having subsequently worked on the IT systems and spent many days onboard some of her sister ships, HMS Liverpool, HMS Cardiff, HMS Edinburgh, HMS Glasgow, HMS Nottingham & HMS Exeter, then this memorial to HMS Coventry felt special to me. The lessons learnt from the Exocet attacks on HMS Coventry were quickly responded to by the Royal Navy. Some of my colleagues had already implemented the design changes requested by the Royal Navy from those lessons learnt, before I had joined Ferranti
Winners of a Local Art Competition: There were a number of large posters of the winners of a local photo competition. This one complemented the remembrance of some of the sacrifices of the Falklands campaign
Maggie Thatcher: Thatcher is clearly a decisive figure to anybody who lived through the period of when she was Prime Minister. She was a disaster for the coal mining communities, union recognition etc. Many of today's problems with the railways, water and other public companies in the 1980s are a result of her government's failed privatisation plans to make money for her friends at the country's expense. However, the one thing she was right on was her backing for the Falklands campaign & it's good to see this statue in Port Stanley. It's the only place there should be a statue to Thatcher in my opinion
Brunel's famous SS Great Britain was left abandoned near Port Stanley in 1886, until it was rescued, returned to the UK in 1970, renovated and ultimately turned into the world class museum it is today.
SS Great Britain's Mizen Mast: I wasn't aware that part of the Mizen mast from the SS Great Britain had stayed in Port Stanley, but it seems appropriate that it did
SS Great Britain's Mizen Mast: She was the largest ship in the world when she was launched in 1843
Signs like this mean 'you are a long way from everywhere else'
On the far side of the bay are several white-painted stone monuments to the ships that have long served and protected the Falklands. There are similar painted signs on St Helena.
Protector: The current HMS Protector (A173) has been the temporary replacement for the Royal Navy ice patrol ship HMS Endurance since 2013. However, these stones were laid to pay tribute to the previous HMS Protector which supported the Falklands in the fifties and sixties
HMS Protector (A173): Off South Haven, Studland (20 Aug 15)
Endurance: These stones pay tribute to the Royal Navy ice patrol ship HMS Endurance (A171) which served the Falklands from 1991 to 2008
Dumbarton Castle: HMS Dumbarton Castle (P265) was a Royal Navy offshore patrol vessel tasked with protection of the offshore assets of the UK including the Falklands between 1982 and 2010
Clyde: HMS Clyde (P257) was another Royal Navy offshore patrol vessel tasked with protection of the offshore assets of the UK between 2006 and 2019 and she replaced the HMS Dumbarton Castle in the Falklands. She spent nearly all of her working life in the Southern Oceans
Barracouta: This HMS Barracouta patrolled the islands in the early nineteenth Century
We headed back to the quay to find that there had been a couple of Commerson's Dolphins around the quay area earlier in the morning. Unfortunately, they had passed through and a good look failed to relocate them. I decided to grab an early zodiac to the Plancius as it would give me a better elevated position to continue my search for some Commerson's Dolphins. This provided a better viewing position, but I was still unsuccessful. Two Night Herons distracted me while I was waiting for a zodiac to the Plancius.
Night Heron: This is the falklandicus subspecies which is endemic to the Falklands
Night Heron: A second individual
South American Sealion: The front two are South American Sealions. I'm uncertain whether the back two are also South American Sealions