Penguins, Penguins, Penguins!
Day 4 of our trip was our first full day of exploration around the islands. Pebble Island where we are staying is a really interesting island for exploring. It has tons of wildlife to see as well as some historic locations from the Falklands War. Our tour was in 4×4 vehicles, with our Falkland Island resident Montana as our tour guide. He told us that his family arrived here in 1850 and are among the oldest families on the Islands.
From the driving and route finding he clearly knew his way round the tracks (and untracked open spaces) of the islands. We visited the locations in the order that they came on the trail, but for this post I wanted to share them in two sections. Falklands War locations and then the Wildlife so you can read the bits you are interested in!
Falklands War Sites:
We visited a number of significant sites from the Falklands War. Pebble Island is one of the most Westerly islands in the Falklands and so was significant as the closest point in the islands to Argentina. It was also the point at which British warships were able to detect incoming aircraft once they had landed at San Carlos and so the skies over the island were a key location in the aerial battles over the islands.
We visited the location of several crashed aircraft. One was an Argentine fighter aircraft which were intercepted by the British on their way to bomb the task force at San Carlos. The other was a memorial to those killed when a Lear Jet, thought to be carrying out reconnaissance for the Argentine’s was shot down by a Dart missile from a British ship.
We also visited the location of a memorial to the sailors killed when the HMS Coventry was sunk just off the coast of Pebble Island. Finally we visited the far side of the airstrip that we landed at only yesterday. This was the location of the first British ground offensive of the war, a raid by the SAS on the airfield with the aim of disabling 10 argentine ground attack aircraft that unless destroyed would pose a serious threat to British troops when they landed on the islands.
Even more abundant than the remnants of the war on Pebble Island are the sea birds and other wildlife that call the island home. During our drive round the island we saw grassland birds (Turkey Vultures, Meadow Lark, White Bridled Finch and Falkland Thrush) sea birds (Petrel, Oyster Catcher, Skua and Penguins, lots of Penguins!) and even a seal.
Check out the photos below and see if you can work out which Penguin is which! We saw Magellenic Penguins which live in burrows and have a white ring around their face. Gentoo Penguins, which have and orange beak and a small white patch around their eye. One of the colonies on Pebble Island actually have their nests almost 1 mile inland! I never expected to see Penguins walking almost a mile over heath and grassland, they look quite funny doing it!
Finally we saw Rock Hopper Penguins which were my favourites, these have yellow tufts on their heads and are full of inquisitive personality – while photographing them I was facing one way photographing an individual bird only to turn around and find two other penguins sneaking up to only a few feet behind me wondering who or what I was!
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