Danzenbaker Tour Journal: Day Two the Falkland Islands

 January 2: Westpoint and Carcass Islands -- A Study in Contrasts                                                              

This morning’s breezes brought light rain to Westpoint Island and our appointment with a third colony of Black-browed Albatrosses and Rockhopper Penguins. A mile-long walk for some and a car ride for others (me) brought us to this intimate colony nestled between sandstone and tussock grass. After routes were flagged and bird activity was noted, we were ready for our participants. All enjoyed the bustling community of avian activity, which included a Rockhopper highway that threaded through the tussocks and opened onto a grassy promenade. I gave a brief talk on the life and times of Black-browed Albatrosses and I was amazed at how many people attended.


A typical scene on Leopard Beach on Carcass Island includes a Magellanic Penguin and two Upland Geese. Strange to see a tropical sandy beach with penguins!

With time growing short, we returned to the landing site with some in the group making a small detour for tea and cakes that won high praise. When we reached the dock, we found it inundated by the incoming tide. Fortunately we had a contingency plan. A second dock not far from the first was used, thus we were able to continue with one of only two dry landings on the trip. Of course, when rain is added, dry landing becomes a relative concept.


Although officially Blackish Cinclodes, this species is known locally by its more endearing name – Tussock-bird. They will walk over your feet if you let them!

Despite being consumed rather hastily, lunch was amazingly tasty. I ate mine in about five minutes as we were quickly approaching our afternoon landing site at Carcass Island. Unlike this morning’s dry landing on a dock in the rain, we disembarked our zodiacs into the shallow waters off a sandy beach under a mostly sunny sky.

The sandstone cliffs of Westpoint Island were replaced by Carcass Island's gentle sand dunes, which buffer a green area filled with Magellanic and Gentoo Penguins, Upland Geese, Tussock-birds, Long-tailed Meadowlarks, and Brown Skuas. The purposeful, raucous rock-hopping penguins that inhabited the morning stop were replaced by mild Magellanic Penguins who wouldn’t go anywhere near a jaggedly rocky shoreline. Leopard Beach was alive with loafing penguins and parading geese, while just offshore hefty Falklands Steamer-Ducks cruised past the surf line. Screaming Magellanic Oystercatchers were seemingly everywhere and one couldn’t escape their calls. A slice of heaven had truly been delivered to me.


A common species on Carcass Island, this Magellanic Snipe stops in the open for soul-satisfying photos.

Dave Shaw and I led a bird walk and our group of 20 found five new species that I had targeted for this particular trip: Cobb’s Wren, Black-throated Finch, Fuegan Snipe, Ruddy-headed Goose, and Blackish Oystercatcher.

Part of the pleasure of doing this job is the challenge (at whatever level of difficulty or simplicity) of finding various wildlife species and then feeling the satisfaction of a job well done when truly appreciative participants express their gratitude.

Cheeseman’s Ecology Safaris attract such people. As an example of this culture, when Ted Cheeseman organized a local beach clean-up many folks participated. It is both amazing and thought-provoking when one first comes to realize just how much plastic can wash ashore on a single stretch of  beach!

The day came to its inevitable end with yet another fine dinner aboard the ship. The evening’s entertainment was the film “Devil Birds,” a documentary on the antics of the locally famous Johnny Rooks that we would encounter on our next day’s adventure.

All photos by Jim Danzenbaker



Thanks Jim, this reporting is fantastic to read about a place I have long dreamed of going to. I’ll be following your trip the whole way.
steve dahmus


This is very timely as I will be headed this way in about a week. This will be interesting to follow until we leave! I have one comment about one of the photos. The Fuegian Snipe is only a very rare vagrant to the Falkland Islands and I think even that is considered somewhat doubtful. I believe your photo is most likely of a Magallanic South American Snipe, but I only know this from what I read. The illustrations in the “Birds of Chile” would also seem to confirm this ID.


As pointed out by Steve Summers, the image in question clearly shows a Magellanic and not a Fuegian Snipe. Since Jim Danzenbaker and I have no ability to communicate directly during his days on the “Polar Star,” we are working without a net as we post his journal pieces. The image that Jim sent to me was labeled Magellanic Snipe, but his caption called the bird a Fuegian Snipe. There have been a few cases where Jim used alternate or colloquial names for birds (i.e. Pintado instead of Cape Petrel). Since I have no familiarity with South American birds, I have deferred to his expertise when it comes to the identity of the birds in his images. I suspect that this error resulted from simple oversight and it is one that I could have easily caught had I just done an online image search of these two species. As a leader for this sort of adventure, I would imagine that Jim has a lot on his plate and is putting in some long and tiring days.

We appreciate hearing from members of this community and most importantly being in a position to quickly correct any errors in the content we publish.

Dave Irons
Content Editor BirdFellow.com


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I have to congratulate you Margaret and all the peploe who have constructed this extraordinarily textured and informative blog. I love the illustrative design at the top of the page ooops there’s a technical term for that header but it doesn’t come to mind! The whole blog design makes it very easy to access stuff . The content is remarkably kaleidoscopic . fastinating always. It feels constantly surreal to have such in-depth glimpses of the pulse of life and learning/yearning in a land so far away an not just geographically distant!At times the reads are hard for me to imagine, from the comfort of post-industrial Britain, and can be the stuff of nightmares! (I have to remind myself constantly that real peploe are right now living these nightmares .) So it is a delight to have snippets such as this penguin story to lighten the read!Thankyou Margaret and one and all Paperback Writer!


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