The Falkland Islands - a bird watchers paradise

Photo:  pinguino k

Located nearly 600 miles to the north of Antarctica, The Falkland Islands belong in the ‘Oversees Territory of the United Kingdom’ category but are completely self-governing. With around 3,000 permanent residents and under 5,000 square miles of land, the islands are popular for tourists due to their relationship with nature. In East Falkland and West Falkland (the two main islands), many rare birds have been known to congregate through many months of the year as well as penguins, dolphins and even whales. As a result, there are now a number of fun activities that allow for animal watching which create memories to last a lifetime. Furthermore, East and West Falkland along with 700 smaller islands nearby are sometimes collectively known as the ‘Penguin Islands’.

Rockhopper penguin
Rockhopper penguin.  Photo:  Laim Quinn

When it comes to particular types, Rockhopper, Magellanic, Colonies of King, Macaroni, and Gentoo Penguins have all been known to settle in the group of islands making it a perfect location for nature lovers. What’s more, they can normally been seen in a variety of locations throughout the islands which really brings them to life and creates a connection for visitors and locals alike. Any visitors looking to catch sight of a penguin will be best off trying to catch them when they go looking for freshwater; often, when their coats get too salty, they will hunt for freshwater as a ‘shower’ to clean.

In addition to penguins, rare birds also like to settle in the Falkland Islands meaning that simple afternoons sat on a chair with a pair of binoculars can be more rewarding than ever before. One of the most famous/popular birds that can be found is the Albatross; in fact, it is a favorite for the species and around 80% of all the Albatross in the world return every single year. Red-backed Buzzards, Turkey Vultures, Black-crowned Night Herons, Striated Caracara, Rock Cormorants, and a whole host of other rare species of birds also like to call the Falkland Islands their home for a certain part of each year.

As a result of the amount of wildlife on offer, there are many wildlife tours for visitors that show all the most popular spots. Most of these choose to stay in the capital, Stanley, although there are camps around the islands that will allow you to immerse yourself in nature even more. In terms of the year calendar, November to February is generally seen as the best time to visit the Falkland Islands as there are long clear days and the wildlife will be rearing young. Also, many Antarctica expedition ships pass and stop in Stanley during these months. As this is the busiest time of year, all visitors should try and book as early as possible to save disappointment. Between March and April, most animals start to move on but there may be an opportunity to catch some before they go. The islands are generally quiet at this time so if you get lucky, you could end up on your own with many rare species. At the other end of the scale, May to September is wintertime and offers plenty of rain and wind; October brings the beginning of Spring and the start of the mating season.

About the Author

World Footprints co-host Tonya Fitzpatrick with a lot of monkeys on her back.

Tonya Fitzpatrick is the co-founder of World Footprints Media.  A self-described “recovering attorney”, she found her purpose as a cultural connector.  Tonya shares a life full of adventure, dark chocolate and champagne with her husband and business partner, Ian.   She has a deep love for animals and would be happy owning a zoo if she weren’t traveling. 

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