Penguins of the Falkland Islands: A Photo Essay
While visiting the Falkland Islands my mum signed up to visit the penguin colony that lives a few hours drive northeast of Stanley at Volunteer Point. There are over 700 breeding pairs of Magellanic penguins, over 500 pairs of King penguins, as well as a colony of Gentoo penguins in the area.
The only way to access Volunteer Point is with an off-road vehicle. My mum, along with several other cruise ship passengers, was part of a convoy of Land Rovers that set off from Stanley to visit the penguins.
This tour is organized by the locals, not the cruise line, and allows the Falkland Islanders to earn a bit of extra cash for supplying their vehicles and driving skills for the day.
The bumpy drive took the convoy off-road through bogs, over hills, across hastily made bridges, through gates and padlocks.
A flat tire? No problem.
A warden lives at Volunteer Point throughout the summer months to monitor the penguins and visitors. The road usually remains closed from April to November.
Once the vehicles arrived at the colony, my mum and the other visitors were encouraged to walk out onto the barren plateau to be among the penguins. On that particular day it was extremely windy, cold, and wet so many of the tourists got out of the Land Rovers, snapped a few pictures, and jumped back in to the vehicles to warm up. My mum loved that she could be almost totally alone with the penguins! It was an experience she said she would not soon forget.
The King penguin chicks were beginning to moult into their adult feathers. The feathers were strewn everywhere! King chicks are dependent on their mother for over a year.
"What are you looking at?"
The breeding grounds at Volunteer Point are shared between three different species of penguins: Gentoo, Magellanic, and King. These Gentoo penguin nests are made up of a circular pile of stones. Apparently the individual stones are so valued that a male penguin can obtain the favour of a female by offering her a nice stone.
This one didn't quite make it across the muddy river...
These penguins are all dirty from sliding down the muddy banks.
The 2km long white sandy beach at Volunteer Point allows easy entry and exit to and from the ocean for the penguins.
My mum noticed that the penguins rarely did anything alone. They were always grouped together when heading to and from the water.
Being around the penguins for a couple of hours was the highlight of the whole trip for my mum. They are now her favourite animal and anytime we see something penguin related she mentions her time visiting the colony here at Volunteer Point on the Falkland Islands.