Sunday 24 January 2010

Beauchene Coastal Bird Survey

SMSG Christmas 2009 Shorebird Survey

In the crazy summer survey season it's back off one trip, and straight out on another, so after a few hours in Stanley after flying in from West Falkland I was off on the Shallow Marine Survey Group trip to Beauchene Island, the most Southerly island in the Falklands archipelago.

It was a spectacular trip, and we were out over Christmas too, what a way to spend the festive season, with a great bunch of people, on a yacht in a far flung place!!

Below is the trip report, and if you'd like to see some photos then follow the link here beauchene trip photo gallery

Survey by Celine Blanchard and Alastair Wilson

Distance covered: approx 5.5km of coastline
310 birds counted (excluding chicks, Black-browed Albatross, Rockhopper Penguin, Gentoo Penguin, Magellanic Penguin, Imperial Shag and Wilson’s Storm Petrel)
Total of 16 species

The coastline of Beauchene Island consisted of boulder beaches along parts of the western side, tall cliffs at the southern, northern and north eastern sides, and also areas of scoured rock. The predominant vegetation was Tussac Grass, which covered much of the island, except the areas of the albatross colony, and the southern end of the island which was bare rock. The only other plants to be found were Smooth Ragwort, Bittercress and Antarctic water starwort.

Debris including driftwood, ropes, fishing net, buoys, and other litter was found on the boulder beaches. There was also natural algal debris on the boulder beaches which provides suitable habitat for the prey of Cobbs Wren and Tussacbirds.

There were very few terrestrial birds on Beauchene which is unsurprising considering the small size, and remoteness of the island. The only passerines were Cobb’s Wren, Tussacbird and Black-throated Finch, with Striated caracara being the only terrestrial non-passerine. There is no suitable habitat (mud, sand etc) for wading birds, and the extreme exposure during the winter may preclude Steamer Ducks and Kelp Geese from living here all year.

Cobb’s Wren
Striated Caracara
Rockhopper Penguin
Black-browed Albatross
Rock Shag
Pale Faced Sheathbill
Imperial Shag
Kelp Gull
Falklands Skua
Wilson’s Storm Petrel
Southern Giant Petrel
Black-throated Finch
Gentoo Penguin
Magellanic Penguin
Dolphin Gull