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The Urban Birder in the Falklands

© David Lindo | On the Falkland Islands wearing a Páramo Halcon Jacket

I regularly traverse the four corners of the globe ostensibly on the search for urban birds which often leads me to the least likely of urban spots. When I got an invitation from the Falkland Islands Tourism Board to visit the islands I just could not resist. Every now and again you have to leave the ‘urban’ behind!

© David Lindo | Road from Mount Pleasant

I arrived at Mount Pleasant, the islands’ main airport, and then was driven for 45 minutes from there to my base to Port Stanley, the capital – for want of a better description. I was startled as to how different the terrain was to what I had imagined in my mind’s eye. Far from being a small, wind and rain swept rock it was an expansive landscape that reminded me of the Orkney Islands or Shetland. It was green with flat plains, rugged hills and the sky was blue. Indeed, it was actually warm! Far from being populated by stern military personnel and native Little Englanders, the folk that I encountered throughout my stay were without exception warm, friendly and worldly.

I was astonished by the sheer size of the islands and the distances between them. I stayed for the first couple of days on East Falkland – where Port Stanley is situated. Incidentally, Stanley should really be dubbed the capital settlement of the islands as it has a population of just over 2,000, which scarcely qualifies it to be termed as a village in most other places on the planet. Interestingly, combined the 778 islands that make up the archipelago nearly equal the size of Wales. So it’s a big place.

© David Lindo | Volunteer Point, East Island

Anyway, the main reason for my visit was to observe the wildlife and boy, I was not disappointed! Most of the bird species I saw were to be found everywhere like the Falklands Steamer Duck and Crested Duck that where variously bobbing or lazing around the coastlines. Gliding over the seas were marauding Southern Giant Petrels with their big wingspans whilst on land loitered what most visitors to the Falkland Islands come to see – the penguins.

I have been lucky enough to have seen penguins before in Antarctica – and what a memorable experience that was. The great thing about seeing them on the Falkland Islands is that you can sit with a breeding colony all day and, in decidedly more agreeable weather conditions. On the White Continent you are limited to an hour or so with the birds. I could have sat with the miscellaneous colonies of Magellanic, Gentoo, King and Rockhopper Penguins. Their antics kept me endlessly amused. Perhaps the best penguin moment was the day that I spent watching Rockhopper Penguins on Saunders Island. Whilst scanning through the throng I discovered a lone Macaroni Penguin, which has a distinctive blond Trump-like centre parting!

© David Lindo | Rockhopper Penguin

With five species available to see I could see why they are just one of the reasons that people make the long haul trip to the islands.

As I mentioned earlier, the Falkland Islands are not a set of frozen, wet and windy islands. Rather, it is as far away from Antarctica as Britain is from the arctic. So, I didn’t have to worry about bringing tons of warm clothes. Indeed, I only brought one jacket with me – my Páramo Halcon. I thought I looked cool in it and, more importantly, it kept me toasty and dry. To be fair, it was an easy choice though. It hasn’t left my back since I acquired it!

I have to admit that I was totally blown away by the Falkland Islands. I have travelled to many places around the globe and some of those places I have grown to love over time. But it is rare for me to visit somewhere and get an overwhelming feeling of connection from the first day. This is how I felt when I visited these magical islands. I want to get back there – as soon as possible please!

My thanks to the Falkland Islands Tourist Board for facilitating this trip.

Click here to view a gallery of David Lindo’s Falkand’s images.Slide 2Slide 3Slide 4Slide 5Slide 6Slide 7Slide 8Slide 9

David Lindo, The Urban Birder

David Lindo’s new book, How To Be An Urban Birder (Princeton/Wildguides), will be available from the end of July 2018.

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