Tag Archives: Carcass

Falkland Islands 2 – Carcass

Sunday 10  March 2024 (pm) – The stabilisers on Hondius did a good job of countering the waves as the ship was carefully navigated around to Carcass Island, also off West Falkland; the wind was still strong, but the landing area looked calm enough.

We landed near a settlement and – praise be! – there was a jetty.

Mind you, because of the state of the tide and the slime at the foot of the jetty, we had to disembark part way up, which was a bit of a step up.

There were, broadly speaking, two options for the afternoon: stay near the landing area and drop into the settlement for tea and cakes; or go for a longish walk before dropping into the settlement for tea and cakes.  I suppose there might have been an option which didn’t include tea and cakes, but no-one seemed interested in that one.

On the path to the settlement, a tussac bird checked us out.

(I assume that the “tussac” in the name of this bird means the same as the more familiar “tussock”.  On several occasions we have had to deal with tussock grass, which, believe me, is not just grass growing in tussocks, oh dear me no. In the Falklands and South Georgia it is a specific plant, Poa Flabbelata, as any fule kno, whose growth builds an ever-increasing pedestal which supports its leaves and can grow up to the height of a man.  This provides shelter for animals and a major trip hazard for humans. For example, one passenger on Hondius had been medevacked on his first attempt to do this trip because the tussock grass concealed a hole which caused his ankle to break in spectacular fashion.)

So, off we went on the walk along a track normally used by local 4x4s.

The info we’d been given asserted that this walk was a chance to see local wildlife, and I suppose it was, provided what you wanted to see was upland geese. There were loads of them,

but for most of the walk out, very little else.  Jane spotted a dark-faced ground tyrant and I managed to catch it before it buggered off,

but apart from that and a few kelp geese spotted in the distance

there was nothing on offer on a long and, frankly, dull walk.

After a couple of wildlifeless kilometres, we decided to turn back, and discovered that what was dull became tedious in the extreme, as we had to stumble back against the infamous Falkland Island wind.  It really was hard work, with the only photographic reward being the spotting by Jane of a couple of magellanic penguins standing guard on their burrows.

I guess I’m being a bit harsh in describing the walk as dull – under other circumstances a bracing walk through the countryside in streaming sunshine would be a pleasure. But I felt that an expedition-style outing should have a bit more pith and moment – or just make it a brief stop for tea, cakes and a look at the wildlife around the landing area.

Having struggled back against the wind, it was nice to get into the house where the tea and cakes were on offer (we had to take off our Muck boots before hand, which is not too surprising, as there was a certain amount of mud around on the paths).  It was an impressive spread

and the tea was very welcome.  Everyone rhapsodised about the how wonderful the baked goods were, but actually I wasn’t as impressed as they were; I thought the chocolate stuff wasn’t chocolatey enough, the shortbread wasn’t quite as sweet as I like, and the macaroons were nice enough but not quite the melt-in-the-mouth treat that a proper macaroon can be. They had ginger biscuits, which were nice, and Jane gave the mince pies the thumbs-up; and it was nice to have a rest after struggling along against that relentless wind.

It was less fun to discover, when I got outside, that someone had taken one of my boots and left one of theirs which was slightly, but tellingly, smaller.  It wasn’t a disaster, but it didn’t help my mood having to hobble back to the landing area with one painful foot.  Not even seeing an austral thrush could lift my spirits much.

The tea house had effectively a pet caracara which entertained the guests for food,

and we had further entertainment at the boot-scrubbing party which was a necessary precursor to getting the Zodiac back to Hondius.

After this somewhat dull interval, the day finished with a flourish, though.  Our one-time Stanley resident, Martin, had extolled the beauties of Falkland Islands sunset, and as we headed out of the bay towards our next rendezvous, we were treated to a great display.

The next day, we were due to visit another West Falkland Island, New Island, which also held the promise of seeing some more albatross action – if the conditions allowed.  But the wind was rising, and we would have to wait until the following morning to see what was possible.