How do you get away from all the birds?

Today we arrived in the Falkland Islands and had two stops where birds where definitely the main feature. The first stop was Saunders Island with nesting black brow albatross, Magellanic penguins and gentoo penguins, all attended by their attendant crown of hungry scavenger including Striated Caracaras and Turkey Vultures – an amazing sight with some stunning wildlife and behaviours to observe, but for me the highlight was Carcass Island. Not as spectacular in terms of piles of wildlife, but here you sit on the beach and are literally harassed by the birds. The cheeky tussock birds flit around the strand line on the beach and will sit on your knee with a curious expression wondering what kind of strange apparition you are. The birds here are pretty unique as the island is cat and rat free which means these guileless birds are safe for now, whilst in much of their previous range they have disappeared. And it is not surprising – today on sat in the palm of my hand briefly. They have absolutely no fear, which does not bode well in the face of introduced predators. Not that the island doesn’t have it’s own predators… well scavengers really. When the tussock birds aren’t stealing the show, the striated caracaras are always happy to perform. One particular opportunistic individual spent several minutes trying to tear my gumboot apart (with my foot inside) while others hovered only feet above wondering if I presented a meal opportunity. It is really splendid to see a host of animals that are absolutely fearless of humans.

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