Saunders Island, Falklands Islands

Saunders Island is the fourth largest of the Falkland Islands. This 30,000 acre island, situated about three miles off the north west coast of West Falkland, is still an active sheep farm and is important historically for being the site of the first British settlement in 1765. It is about 13 miles from east to west and almost that distance from north-east to south-west. It consists of three peninsulas linked by narrow necks, and it has three large upland areas. The highest point, Mount Richards, is 1,499 ft high.

Birds for which the island is of conservation significance include Falkland Steamer Ducks (250 breeding pairs), Ruddy-headed Geese, Gentoo Penguins (6700 pairs), Southern Rockhopper Penguins (6900 pairs), Macaroni Penguins (4200 pairs), Black-browed Albatrosses (11,000 pairs) and White-bridled Finches.The island is near the southernmost range limit of the Magellanic Penguin, while Gentoos range much further south into Antarctica.

We never saw the settlement which was on the east side of the island, and occupies a site near Port Egmont, on the relatively sheltered east coast, almost facing Keppel Island. British marines first established themselves here in 1765, but after France withdrew from Port Louis, Spain discovered and expelled the Port Egmont settlement two years later—nearly sparking a war between Spain and Britain. Under pressure, the Spaniards restored the Saunders settlement, but, in 1774, Britain suspended its presence for, it said, budgetary reasons. After the British departure, Spanish forces leveled the settlement. Just north of the current settlement, Port Egmont’s surviving ruins include extensive foundations and even some walls, jetties, and garden terraces that, by one account, yielded a quantity of vegetables.

We arrived from New Island and landed on the western neck of Saunders Island and walked across to the wind-swept beach on the northern side of the island. The penguins were mainly Gentoo, but included a few King Penguins. And there were more nesting Albatross

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The unslinging of the Zodiacs was a fairly slick operation .. ..the Expedition staff were soon heading to recce the beach .. ..and in the flat calm there were no difficulties in the wet landing. A few of the locals were there to greet us. Most were friendly ..
..but this chap did not look pleased to see us at all. On the northern beach there were Gentoo as far as the eye .. ..could see. The Gentoo are a very curious looking bird .. ..and are themselves curious, wandering up to inspect us
It is surprising how far penguins stray from the sea to nest, but .. ..with so many on the beach, there was not enough room .closer to the sea. There are now a few King Penguins. This Gentoo is a classic of the species, typical of all adults
The Kings are a much more serious looking bird. But none the less are also very curious and fearless The classic explorers pose on the beach with friends behind us. The bones of a long ago washed up whale
And a walk up and along the .. ..coast to see more albatross .. ..nesting on the cliffs.  

From Saunders the ship rounded the north of the Falklands and anchored off Stanley

Falkland Islands in Silversea Explorer