Westpoint Island, Falkland Islands

Photos of Westpoint Island and Rockhopper Penguins, Falkland Islands

Morning finds us at Westpoint Island. We can only see about 200’ up into the rolling green hills; heavy cloud cover obscures everything above that. It looks wet in the hills. Our zodiac lands on a small boat ramp, one of the few “dry landings” we will have during the trip. We are told we have the option of hiking 1.5 miles to the albatross rookery, or we can hitch a ride on a Land Rover. I opt for the latter. The countryside is pastoral, lush and soft and would be difficult for most vehicles, but the sturdy Rover has no problems.

Colony of nesting black-browed albatross, rockhopper penguins and Imperial shags, set high above the ocean on tussock grass-covered seacliffs, Thalassarche melanophrys,  Eudyptes chrysocome, Phalacrocorax atriceps, Westpoint Island

Colony of nesting black-browed albatross, rockhopper penguins and Imperial shags, set high above the ocean on tussock grass-covered seacliffs.
Image ID: 23935
Species: Black-browed albatross, Rockhopper penguin, Imperial shag, Thalassarche melanophrys, Eudyptes chrysocome, Phalacrocorax atriceps
Location: Westpoint Island, Falkland Islands, United Kingdom

The “road” is somewhat ambiguous. We roll by some old wooden gates, a few windmills and some sheep. It is foggy and drizzling. I feel British. Soon we reach a colony of black-browed albatross (Thalassarche melanophrys), Imperial shag (Phalacrocorax atriceps) and rockhopper penguins (Eudyptes chrysocome) dramatically set on bluffs high above the sea. This is our first bout with tussock grass. It is rumored to be awkward to walk through, but at this spot the waist-high maze is fairly easy to navigate.

Western rockhopper penguin, standing atop tussock grass near a rookery of black-browed albatross, Eudyptes chrysocome, Westpoint Island

Western rockhopper penguin, standing atop tussock grass near a rookery of black-browed albatross.
Image ID: 23932
Species: Rockhopper penguin, Eudyptes chrysocome
Location: Westpoint Island, Falkland Islands, United Kingdom

The edge of the colony abuts the tussock so that we can stand just a few feet away from the birds but still be behind large tufts of grass. The sounds are wonderful: wind, penguins vocalizations, clucks by the albatrosses. I brought a long lens and immediately realize it is overkill. I return to my bag and pull out my widest lens so that I can shoot some video of the colony.

Black-browed albatross, adult on nest with chick, Thalassarche melanophrys, Westpoint Island

Black-browed albatross, adult on nest with chick.
Image ID: 23946
Species: Black-browed albatross, Thalassarche melanophrys
Location: Westpoint Island, Falkland Islands, United Kingdom

I change locations on the periphery of the colony a few times, photographing and shooting video. At one spot, some rockhoppers march to a small creek to bathe and groom. After a few hours it is time to return to the landing, in the Land Rover again. Such a smooth ride, I must get one of these. We are offered tea and bisquits at the settlement cottage at the landing. I feel British some more. We return to the boat for lunch, and reposition to Carcass Island.

All of my photography from the trip is linked to the location where the images were taken. If you have Google Earth, you can see all of my photos from Westpoint Island overlaid at the exact location they were taken.

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