More than 30 species have been recorded, the majority being migratory seabirds that are present in very large numbers during the breeding season. The site is significant for the second largest populations in the world of Black-browed Albatross and Rockhopper Penguin, and apparently the second most dense breeding population of Striated Caracara in the Falklands. Beauchêne Island is also important for Wilson’s Storm-petrel, Grey-backed Storm-petrel and Common Diving Petrel. It is the only confirmed breeding site for Fairy Prion in the Falkland Islands.
At least 40 species have been recorded, of which 34 are known to breed. Thin-billed Prions breed on Channel Rock and Hecate Rock but the population has not been assessed. Striated Caracaras breed on Stick-in-the-mud, Rookery Island and Hecate Rock, and Ruddy-headed Geese are present but their populations are too small to qualify. Local subspecies recorded are Black-crowned Night-heron, Upland Goose, Kelp Goose, Dark-faced Ground-tyrant, Falkland Thrush, Falkland Grass Wren and Long-tailed Meadowlark.
The total number of species recorded on Bird Island in November 1998 was 27, of which 25 bred or were probably breeding. Macaroni Penguin, Ruddyheaded Goose, Canary-winged/Black-throated Finch and Falkland Steamer Duck are present but their status is uncertain or populations are too small to qualify. The congregation of seabirds on this island exceeds 10,000 breeding pairs, making the site classifiable under the A4iii criterion. Bird Island is one of the most important breeding sites for the Striated Caracara and it is considered that the population here is at least as dense as on any offshore island around the Falklands, possibly due to the very large population of Thin-billed Prions, an important prey species. Deep Tussac cover over most of Bird Island makes it comparable to Beauchêne Island for the density of burrowing petrels.
During a four-day surveying visit by a British Schools Exploring Society (BSES) party in November 2003, 46 possible breeding species were recorded, of which 37 were either confirmed or probably breeding. A few immature Striated Caracaras visit the settlement but they are not known to breed within the group. The island rates A4i status through the large colonies of Imperial Shag and Rock Shag present in November 2003. The globally threatened Macaroni Penguin may breed, but this needs confirmation. The Tussacbird was numerous prior to rat infestation but very few are breeding now. Endemic subspecies present include White-tufted/Rolland’s Grebe, Black-crowned Night-heron and Upland Goose.
This group of islands is the most important breeding site for Southern Giant Petrels in the world. Counts were made in early 2005. There is no complete list of birds, but it is probable that at least 20 species breed, possibly including burrowing petrels and storm-petrels. Two small colonies of Imperial Shags were seen on the northwestern and south-western of the cays in December 2001. Tussacbird adults were seen on Stinker Island in December 2001 and Cobb’s Wren is likely to be present.
These islands were visited during the Striated Caracara Survey in 1997; Hummock was revisited in 2001. Canary-winged/Black-throated Finch, Falkland Steamer Duck and Tussacbird are present, but numbers are not known and therefore do not qualify the site. On Hummock Island, 28 bird species were found, including all native passerines except Falkland Pipits, but the visit was short and a thorough examination of the island was not possible. Fourteen species were recorded on Middle Island, of which probably 12 were breeding. On Rabbit Island, there was a 32% increase in Rockhopper Penguin nests from 1995 to 2000. A total of 20 species was recorded in November 1997; 18 were breeding or probably breeding; only two individual Tussacbird were seen and no Cobb’s Wren, Canary-winged/Black-throated Finch nor Ruddy-headed Goose.
On Steeple Jason in October and November 1997, 36 species were noted, with 27 probably breeding, and 39 species were recorded on Grand Jason with 30 of them almost certainly breeding. A total of 12 species, 11 probably breeding, were found on Steeple Islet during a visit of only 90 minutes. Clarke’s Islet held only 10 species, almost all breeding and including Cobb’s Wren, Tussacbird and Canary-winged/ Black-throated Finch. On Flat Jason, 32 species were seen, with 26 probably breeding. On Elephant Jason, 33 species were noted, of which 30 were probably breeding. Populations of Thin-billed Prion, Wilson’s Storm-petrel, Grey-backed Storm-petrel, Rock Shag and Imperial Shag warrant further investigation.
A total of 38 species was recorded in December 2001, of which 33 were breeding or probably breeding. The first pair of Barn Owls proved to be breeding (2001) on Keppel Island found suitable habitat in the extensive European Gorse and the shearing shed at the settlement, and they were apparently feeding solely on the introduced rat population. During a visit in 2003, both Southern Caracara and Striated Caracara were noted as present, though not shown to be breeding. Falkland Grass Wren, White-tufted/Rolland’s Grebe and Black-necked Swan are often seen, especially on or near the ponds in the central valley. Very large numbers of Upland Geese were reported in December 2001 and from sample counts, it was estimated that more than 3,000 were present.
At least 34 species have been recorded breeding on Kidney Island since 1960. The most numerous is the Sooty Shearwater, which was apparently confined to the western headland and steep north-western slopes in the 1930s, but now burrows around the coast and well inland. Kidney Island has one of only three known Falkland breeding colonies of White-chinned Petrels. It is also the only definite breeding site for Great Shearwater outside the Tristan da Cunha and Gough Island group in the South Atlantic. Grey-backed Storm-petrels breed, but are very difficult to count.
Lively Island has good populations of songbirds, including Cobb’s Wren and Tussacbird, in the absence of rats. About 38 species were recorded (1980s), most of which were breeding, including several hundred Imperial Shags. White-tufted/ Rolland’s Grebe, Black-crowned Night-heron and Black-necked Swan frequent Enderby Pond on the western Sal Point, where White-winged Coot have been seen several times. Thirty-four species were recorded on North East Island in February 2003, when rats were widespread; 24 species bred or probably bred.
The New Island group is considered to be one of the finest wildlife areas in the Falklands, with at least 46 species breeding or probably breeding, and very large populations of colonial nesting seabirds. It is probably the world’s most important breeding ground for the Thin-billed Prion. The colony of Black-browed Albatross on North Island was devastated by fire from a lightning strike in January 1988. It has since recovered to a population of about 17,700 pairs in 2000. New Island has a breeding population of Falkland Skuas numbering several hundred. There are a few pairs of Macaroni Penguins but they do not qualify the site as they are probably not breeding. Birds of prey include Peregrine Falcon, Southern Caracara, Variable Hawk, Turkey Vulture and Short-eared Owl.
On Second Passage Island, 32 species were recorded in November 1997. Of these, 28 probably breed, including all the resident songbirds except the Falkland Pipit. Six pairs of Striated Caracaras and one pair of Ruddy-headed Geese were recorded but do not qualify the site. The primary importance of this group of islands is the large breeding population of Southern Giant Petrels on Third Passage Island, though the exact size of the colony is unknown. There is a possibility that Third and Fourth Passage Islands support breeding populations of Thin-billed Prions, though this has yet to be confirmed.
In 1995, 39 species were found breeding on Pebble Island, with another four possibly breeding. A total of 23 of the 25 species of waterfowl and wading birds (as defined under the Ramsar Convention) breeding in the Falklands are found in the large wetland area on Pebble Island East, and more than 1,000 pairs of Imperial Shags breed near Cape Tamar. There are also colonies of Rockhopper and Gentoo Penguins. The Gentoo population doubled in the five years between 1995 and 2000, while the Rockhopper population remained more or less stable. The very small number of breeding Macaroni Penguins is associated with a large Rockhopper Penguin colony north of Marble Mountain.
During the summer of 2000/01 the first pair of Coscoroba Swans known to breed successfully in the Falklands since 1860 was recorded on the eastern wetlands.
About 50 species have been recorded on Saunders Island, 40 of them breeding or probably breeding. Cobb’s Wren is absent and few songbirds are seen, due to the presence of introduced cats and rats. However, in some valleys with more vegetation and good stands of Fachine Chiliotrichum diffusum, songbird numbers are higher. The largest variety of waterbirds is found on and around the ponds on Elephant Point. A colony of Silvery Grebe favours this locality. There are significant populations of Imperial and Rock Shags that warrant further investigation.
Between 1983 and 1993, 53 species were recorded on Sea Lion Island during fieldwork for the Breeding Birds Survey. Of these, 43 were breeding or probably breeding, including eight of the nine resident songbirds and five species of penguins. The Macaroni Penguin occasionally breeds among the Rockhoppers but not in sufficient numbers to warrant site qualification. On Rum Islet, only 17 species were recorded in November 1998, including 15 probably breeding. Brandy Island had 26 species, of which 17 were breeding or probably breeding. These included Common Diving Petrels found incubating and the remains of a Sooty Shearwater. Whisky Island had 19 species, with 13 probably breeding while Sea Lion Easterly had 24 species, of which 21 were breeding or probably breeding. The Grey-backed Stormpetrel is present but breeding needs to be confirmed. The predator-free status of all five islands in the Sea Lion group makes them important for small passerines and burrowing petrels.
More than 40 species have been recorded on Speedwell Island. One of the largest rat-free islands in the Falklands, it has a thriving population of native songbirds including the endemic Cobb’s Wren, and the ponds provide excellent waterfowl habitat. George and Barren Islands hold the most accessible large breeding colonies of Southern Giant Petrels in the Falklands, which are attractive to tourists. There are significant numbers of Rock and Imperial Shags on Speedwell and Annie Islands, and a colony of Sooty Shearwaters at the northern point of George Island. More than 10,000 pairs of seabirds breed on a regular basis, which means the IBA qualifies under the A4iii criterion.
A total of 50 species was recorded on or near West Point Island during the Breeding Birds Survey 1983–93, of which 30 were breeding or probably breeding. Seven of the native songbirds were present but their numbers were low compared with Carcass Island, where Tussacbird and Cobb’s Wren were widespread and numerous. Gibraltar Rock has only four or five songbird species but supports a large breeding population of Thin-billed Prion, and it is probable that the Grey-backed Storm-petrel is breeding there and on Carcass, Low, Dunbar and The Twins. The Common Diving Petrel may breed on The Twins and Dunbar. The Rock Shag is breeding on most islands but the only breeding records for the Imperial Shag are for Carcass and Dunbar.
The pool areas are particular favourites with birdwatchers, who have recorded many rare and visiting species, such as Coscoroba Swan, Ashy-headed Goose, Cinnamon Teal and breeding Black-necked Swan. Chiloe Wigeon and all resident duck species are frequently seen. At the southernmost tip, where a ring of dunes surrounds the central green areas, the density of penguins and geese during the summer months is extremely high. This is also a good place to see juvenile Striated Caracaras. The Tussacbird is present but probably not breeding due to rats and cats. Bull Point has extensive beach and dune areas where White-rumped Sandpipers congregate in large numbers with local Two-banded Plover, Rufous-chested Dotterel and the two species of oystercatchers. Magellanic Snipe and Brown-hooded Gull probably breed.
Hope Harbour has been chosen as an IBA because it is the only mainland site with colonies of the globally Endangered Black-browed Albatross and it has two large colonies of Gentoo Penguin. Access to the albatross colonies on very steep cliffs is extremely difficult. Endemic subspecies recorded at the site include Upland Goose and Long-tailed Meadowlark. Apart from penguin and albatross counts, there is little information available. Knowledge of other species is very limited and requires further fieldwork.
The area is notable for the small population of Sooty Shearwaters located close to Wineglass Hill and at Rabbit Rincon. It is almost certain that a further substantial colony exists on the offshore Tussac-covered stack nearby, where other burrowing petrels might also breed. Imperial and Rock Shags are present but counts are required. Three to four pairs of Macaroni Penguins including hybrids with Rockhopper Penguins do not qualify the site. The first pair of Barn Owls proved to breed in the Falklands was found nesting in the old gorse-covered corral close to Seal Bay shepherd’s house in 1987. Endemic subspecies present include Whitetufted/ Rolland’s Grebe on Swan Pond, Upland Goose, Falkland Grass Wren, Falkland Pipit and Falkland Thrush.
Volunteer Green supports the largest population of King Penguin in the Falklands and this is one of the most important tourist destinations within the archipelago. The entire area is dominated by colonies of Gentoo and King Penguins, with bare turf patches marking recently deserted breeding areas and older colony sites marked by vivid green patches of fertilised grasses. Beyond the penguin colonies on the green, Volunteer Lagoon supports a variety of waterfowl. Endemic subspecies recorded in the area include Upland Goose, Dark-faced Ground-tyrant, Falkland Pipit, Falkland Thrush and Long-tailed Meadowlark.
The coastal area and lagoon margins are particularly important for large congregations of migratory species. These include non-breeding summer visitors from the Canadian Arctic: White-rumped Sandpiper, Sanderling and Hudsonian Godwit occur regularly in higher numbers than in other parts of the Falklands; Whimbrel, Ruddy Turnstone, Least Seedsnipe, Baird’s Sandpiper and several other rare visitors have been recorded, often associated with the resident Two-banded Plover, Rufous-chested (Plover) Dotterel and both species of Oystercatcher.
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