Carcass Island, Falklands

Posted on October 25, 2010

The plane comes to get me after 2 nights on Sea Lion Island. I'm the only new passenger, and we fly to Saunders Island to let the others off. Then I'm able to take my preferred seat, beside the pilot. Best views from this seat, and with the headset, it's possible to have a conversation with the pilot. The wind is surprise, again blowing hard, and another surprise there's little turbulence. After Saunders we stop at Pebble, and here the pilot says to expect a rough crossing. Passengers often spew their lunch when it gets rough he says. My problem is that I had 2 cups of coffee with breakfast, and I've been on the plane for over an hour. Note to future FIGAS flyers, careful with your fluid intake.

Geese everywhere, mostly upland geese, males predominantly white, and females brown, both with barred hindquarters. Also ruddy geese, look like female upland geese. These birds are all over, grazing on the grass, and leaving their droppings behind.

The unappealing name results from the ship, HMS Carcass which sailed these waters in 1766, and gave the island its name. The island is 6 miles long and a mile and a half across, hilly and at one time, full of sheep. Sheep still graze here in much diminished numbers, and a few cattle as well. And there is one house, formerly the ranch house, now owned by Rob and Lorraine and operated as a lodge. Rob and Lorraine, with Roland and wife Eva from Chile are the only inhabitants. The house faces the sea, and has Monterrey cedars around it, almost a forest, the most trees I've seen in all the islands.

The island is all hills with rocky outcroppings at the higher elevations. Geese everywhere, mostly upland geese, males predominantly white, and females brown, both with barred hindquarters. Also ruddy geese, look like female upland geese. These birds are all over, grazing on the grass, and leaving their droppings behind. They have little fear, and move or fly only when I get closer than 6 feet. Rob happily drives all visitors around the island, or permits them to drive themselves in one of the 4 jeeps he keeps. I elect to be driven, as there is no road to follow and don't want to get stuck anywhere. Getting lost seems impossible, stuck possible. Also, he a wealth of information and a natural raconteur, so his stories and descriptions make the days a pleasure. All driving is off road, as there's no road. The day is so windy that getting out of the car holds no appeal, so we bump over the island cocooned from the elements. On one of the beaches a sei whale skeleton is mostly picked clean, it washed up a few months back. There are plans to take it to Stanley when the work of cleaning it is complete. The workers: vultures, hawks and sea gulls.

I don't see more wildlife than on Seal Lion, but I'm seeing it in a prettier setting. The advantage of these small islands is that rats, mice and cats were never introduced, so all the small songbirds still exist. As they nest on the ground and have no fear, islands with introduced predators have lost this portion of avifauna. The bigger birds seem to be able to hold their own against predators. Common are the tussock birds, small brown starling size birds. They dance around ones feet, waiting for whatever piece of food might be uncovered. Stand still and they'll alight on your shoes. Falkland Islands thrush are robin relatives, and look like faded robins, also tame. Local meadow larks have tawny backs and crimson breasts, probably the prettiest birds. There's a bird locally called Johnny Rook, a type of hawk (striated cara cara) that impressively big and colored in shades of brown and chestnut, faintly stippled around its neck that is very common, while at the same time is one of the world's most endangered birds of prey. It's simply that I see so many of them, tame like other birds and always hanging out in front of the house. They ignore the small songbirds and scavenge scraps, and will take small penguins and lambs. They scrutinize you in such a way, seems they might be thinking "how would he taste?"

Probably tender, as I get no exercise in the Falklands and the lodges seem to think it's their duty to fatten up the guests before sending them off. Breakfast are typically English, bacon, sausages, grilled tomato, eggs, cooked mushrooms, toast, cereal, coffee and juice. About 3 times my normal breakfast. Lunch and dinner fish, meat, a few vegetables and rice and then dessert. Desserts come with a pint size picture of cream, all local stuff that cannot be poured, must be scooped and hits my taste buds with a resounding 'YES.' That's yes, give me more. Cholesterol be damned, when am I going to taste this stuff again?