Bird, Mammal and Plant Report – September 2019

This is a compilation of bird, mammal, plant sightings by Andy Pollard only.

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  • 47 bird species observed from 23 checklists
  • 3 new Falkland Island ‘life species’
  • First Magellanic ‘Jackass’ Penguin seen on the 23rd September
  • First chick, a Magellanic Snipe observed on the 30th September
  • 33 birds observed on the 24th September
  • 73 birds observed in 2019
  • 83 birds Falkland Island ‘life species’ in total

Highlight Bird Sightings

Ashy-headed GooseChloephaga poliocephala (life species)

This vagrant bird, occasionally reported as breeding, was photographed at Volunteer Point. There are at least 30 records for this bird in the Falkland Islands. This goose was found by Derek Pettersson. I am grateful to Derek and Trudi for their hospitality and permission to visit and see this bird on the 24th September. A handsome species, slight larger than the Ruddy-headed Goose and differs by its rich chestnut breast and mantle, combined with a grey head and neck. Male and female birds are similar.

Vagrant Ashy-headed Goose with its rich chestnut breast and mantle, combined with a grey head and neck

Tawny-throated DotterelOreopholus ruficollis (life species)

A vagrant bird from southern South America. There are about 10 records for this species, all between mid-August and early-October. This bird was found by Sue Morrison, at Turkey Rocks on Cape Pembroke, on the 17th September. This is a stunning bird with pinkish legs, buff and black striped back, warm chestnut throat, grey sides to the neck, a small black patch on the belly, and a narrow white supercilium. This bird was observed the following day, but not after.

Tawny-throated Dotterel with a chestnut throat, buff and black striped back, grey neck and small black patch on the belly

Coscoroba SwanCoscoroba coscoroba (life species)

Rare visitor, and occasional breeding species, that is numerous and widespread in Patagonia. This photograph shows 3 out of the 4 birds that where found at Moody Brook by Roger Spink on the 17th September. These birds are slightly smaller than the resident Black-necked Swan and look strangely duck-like, though it does have a long, slender neck. The bill is bright rosy red and adult plumage is all white apart from the black wing tips visable in flight.

3 Coscoroba Swans in flight displaying their all white plumage, with black wing tips and a rosy red bill.

Magellanic PenguinSpheniscus magellanicus

Summer breeding resident that returns to the Falkland Islands in September. The first birds i managed to see was at Gypsy Cove on the 23rd September. A total of two, that were seen by other people on the 21st. First sightings at Bleaker Island on the 8th September and West Point Island on the 20th September. My understanding is that the males arrive back about two weeks before the females, to clean out the burrows before egg laying.

South American SnipeGallinago paraguaiae

This is a resident, widespread species in varied habitats. On the 30th September i found a pair of snipe with one chick on Cape Pembroke, the first chick i have observed this season. I had to stop and encourage them slowly to move off the road. Another first, was when i observed both birds swim across this small puddle of water.

Adult South American Snipe leaving a small puddle of water with its tiny chick.

Macaroni PenguinEudyptes chrysolophus

A summer resident, the Macaroni Penguin is near the northern limit of its range in the Falkland Islands and is the rarest breeding Falkland penguin. Earlier in the year i observed my first bird at the Murrell farm. This is my second ever bird and and unusual visitor to Cape Pembroke. Whilst a patch os skin at the gape is visible, this individual did not show the characteristic pink of adult birds and density of golden-orange head plumes.

Macaroni Penguin lying on rocks with its golden-orange plumes clearly visable.

Two-banded PloverCharadrius falklandicus

At Volunteer Point, a flock of over 100 two-banded plovers was brought together after being spooked by a nearby Peregrine Falcon. Amongst the plovers are some White-rumped Sandpipers.

Flock of over 100 two-banded plovers in flight after being spooked by Peregrine Falcon.

King PenguinAptenodytes patagonicus

The Falkland Islands tallest penguins. At this time of the year, all of last years chicks are still at Volunteer Point. The chicks are often referred to as plump, dark brown, teddy bears!

One colourful adult King penguin stands out amongst all the plump, dark brown, teddy bear like chicks.
Group of plump, dark brown plumaged, King Penguins chicks. Black beaks contrast again the brown hair.
The three Kings have arrived 3 months too early. Three adult King Penguins on the beach

Other Bird Sightings

Greylag Goose (Domestic type), Upland Goose, Kelp Goose, Ruddy-headed Goose, Falkland Steamer-duck, Crested Duck, Silver Teal, Chiloe Wigeon, Yellow-billed Teal, White-tufted Grebe, Snowy Sheathbill, Blackish Oystercatcher, Magellanic Oystercatcher, Rufous-chested Dotterel, White-rumped Sandpiper, Brown-hooded Gull, Dolphin Gull, Kelp Gull, King Penguin, Gentoo Penguin, Magellanic Penguin, Black-browed Albatross, Southern Giant Petrel, Northern Giant Petrel. Sooty Shearwater, Magellanic Cormorant, Imperial Cormorant, Black-crowned Night-heron, Turkey Vulture, Variable Hawk, Southern Caracara, Peregrine Falcon, Blackish Cincloides, Dark-faced Ground-tyrant, Sedge Wren, Austral Thrush, House Sparrow, Black-chinned Siskin, Long-tailed Meadowlark, White-bridled Finch.

Pair of Dolphin Gulls with red bills and red legs, grey bodies and black wings.
Dolphin Gulls at Volunteer Point
4 Gentoo Penguins with the contrast of a bright orange/red bill against their black and white bodies.
Gentoo Penguins at Volunteer Point
A male Magellanic Oystercatcher in flight with the female behind
Male Magellanic Oystercatcher leaves the females back post mating. Southern Sea Lion in the background.
Blackish oystercatcher carrying a limpet in its red bill.
Blackish Oystercatcher with limpet at Cape Pembroke
A juvenile Black-crowned Night-heron stand on the rocks beside the ocean.
Juvenile Black-crowned Night-heron at Cape Pembroke
White and black male Upland Goose chases the brown and black plumaged female.
The male Upland Goose chasing a female in the hope of finding a mate.
Turkey Vulture with two-sister mountains in the backdrop.
Turkey Vulture on a cold wintery day, with the Two-sisters in the background

For more images of birds of the falklands please take a look at this gallery


Southern Sea Lion in the sandgrass with Cape Pembroke lighthouse in the backdrop.
Southern Sea Lion with the Cape Pembroke lighthouse in the backdrop
Pod of Commerson's Dolphins in the surf at Surf Bay
Pod of Commerson’s Dolphins in the surf at Surf Bay
Pod of Commerson's Dolphins in the surf at Surf Bay
Pod of Commerson’s Dolphins in the surf at Surf Bay
Pod of Commerson's Dolphins in the surf at Surf Bay
Pod of Commerson’s Dolphins in the surf at Surf Bay


Yellow flower of the Arrow-leafed Marigold.
First flowers appearing of the Arrow-leafed Marigold at Cape Pembroke
First flowers of the Dusty Millers close to opening.
First flowers of the Dusty Millers close to opening