Bleaker Island is a 30 minute flight from Stanley, the capital of the Falkland Islands. It is a world away from 'civilization'.
The Island's only full time residents are its managers, who run both an organic sheep and beef farm and a lodge consisting of two cottages.
A view of the lodge. Our cottage was the smaller one on the left.
A view of the pier used by the Shag colony's juveniles for flight lessons. A whale jaw bone is in the foreground.
Because we rented one of the only two vehicles on the island, we were able to visit several interesting places in search of wildlife photographs. In this blog, I'll concentrate on the Skua.
The Falklands Skua population has declined markedly in recent years, although the reasons are not well understood. However, they do compete with the endangered and protected endemic Striated Caracara. As the population of Caracara increases, it puts an obvious strain on the smaller Skua.
The endemic Falkland Islands Striated Caracara.
Skuas lay 1 to 3 eggs in simple hollows in the grassland during November or December. By laying later than most species, they insure a steady supply of seabird eggs and young on which to feed their own chicks. They defend their nest aggressively, often dive-bombing intruders.
Skuas are attentive parents.
They patrol colonies of penguins and shags in search of a meal
A Skua waits for a discarded or accidentally dropped morsel of food from a feeding Imperial Shag.
Often, they are not so quiet. They work in gangs, terrorizing shag and penguin colonies until returning parents drop the food they intended to feed their young.
Juvenile Imperial Shags learn to fly at the obstacle course provided by the Bleaker Farm. Here they are stumped by a fence until they finally make the giant leap over.
Adult Shags accompany and protect their young, although not always successfully.
Skua chick seemlinly unguarded, but a parent is always nearby.