February 23, 2023
We had a very calm crossing of the Drake Passage and still weren’t sure that the conditions would allow us to visit the Falklands, a place we have never been and really want to experience.
Before I get to the day, I got another 4 of a kind in the casino last night. Who says lightning doesn’t strike twice!
We were scheduled to be at anchor at 8 am and in fact, we were right on time. Our tour was also scheduled at that time, but by the time we traveled to the port in the tender, it was about 8:20. Our tour today was to Bluff Cove Lagoon to see the penguins.
We were in a small bus which held only 20 people and our guide was Len. He is a 5th generation Falkland inhabitant and was very knowledgeable.
The Falkland Islands are a self governing British country. The population of the entire country is only about 3000 people. There is free medical care and free education here. The top three industries are squid and Chilean sea bass fishing, tourism (over 43,000 visitors a year in the season between October and March) and farming.
To my surprise, there are no trees on the Falklands, it is mostly rocky with white grass plains. They are very much into sustainable energy and have 6 wind turbines which produce 35-45% of the electricity consumed in Stanley and they have reduced their diesel fuel use by 1 million liters. They also have a solar farm under construction.
We passed by an area that had 30,000 land mines left after the 1982 war, but the area has now been totally cleaned – it took 5 1/2 years to do so.
The place we visited is the Bluff Cove Lagoon which is part of a 30,000 acre farm. They raise sheep and cows and of course there are the penguin colonies along the water. The two types we saw today are the king penguin, the second largest after the emperor and the Gentoo which is the third largest.
There were lots of guides around the area to answer our questions.
I got many pictures and will post some with explanations.
The king penguin is later into the breeding season than the Gentoo. We got some great pictures, including the ones here that show one of them feeding the chick. The chicks and the eggs (which are all hatched now) are well hidden under the feathers and on the feet of the adults. The chicks are hard to spot so I was lucky.
The colony of king penguins was much smaller than the Gentoo colonies. Here, the chicks are already about 6 – 8 weeks old and are molting. They lose their feathers and the new ones grow in during this time. You can see the feathers all around them on the ground. They basically just stand around since they can’t swim in the molting state. They don’t eat much either unless an adult brings them some fish, but they have stored fat from when they were fed by the parents. If they even try to swim, they would quickly become a snack for the seals. The adult Gentoos do swim and many of them were moving along the shoreline as well. Hopefully I will be able to upload a video for you to see. I will try it in a separate posting.
We were scheduled for 2 hours here and it was warmer temperature wise but VERY windy. At times, I couldn’t hold the camera still.
We walked all around the area and were simply delighted by these beautiful birds.
After our walk, we went to the Sea Cabbage café where we were treated to hot drinks and our choice of two of the many homemade treats offered to us. There were a lot of posters with information about the area and the country. And the treats were delicious. They have it set up like a mini museum. The most current picture was the one of Zelensky!
The above picture is the wallpaper in the rest room!
Next to the café, there was a charming gift shop where I made some purchases. And we got to meet the owner of the farm – Hattie – who also baked all of the goodies. She held up her paper sign “Hattie the baker”. Norm dropped a photo bomb from the window! The lovely woolen goods here are made from the wool from their own sheep which is sent to Scotland and then back here.
Due to the winds, the tenders were delayed so we were there an hour longer than scheduled. Near the café it wasn’t quite as windy. I did take another walk for some pictures. I also learned what Sea Cabbage is and it is nothing to eat – it is a plant that gets yellow flowers in season. Here is a picture.
The cows are mostly the Belted Galloway which they call Oreo cows since they have the black and white areas. There are still some sod and stone walls standing. These were constructed to keep livestock in specific areas.
We didn’t see any whales although the southern right whale is here this time of year. Whales were endangered here for years, but they do a census every 2 years and there has been a 51% increase since the previous census, good news indeed.
We returned to Port Stanley and had some time to walk around the town. They have a huge display of photos depicting “The Essence of Our Community.” Here are some of them and some others of the two churches, interesting historical buildings, the whale bone arch and yes, the red phone booths!
Hi Pat, you are not only lucky in the Casino. As well, you got to the Falkland Islands. When we were on the ATW 2020, we didn’t get across to the latter because of 60-80 km winds. We hope the luck remains with you for the remainder of your trip.
Oh, what a spectacular place. Once again, I love love love the penguins. Norm’s photobomb made me laugh out loud.