Bleaker Island has a very extensive coastline that attracts a multitude of wildlife and hosts a massive imperial cormorant colony, three types of breeding penguins and wildfowl. It is one of the few places where the rare flightless steamer duck can be observed. Sea lions haul out on the rocks and offshore tussac islands. Peale's dolphins swim in small groups along the outer edges of kelp beds. Commerson's dolphins frequent the shallower waters on the island's western perimeter. Increasing numbers of Sei whales, Southern right whales and Fin whales are spotted on both sides of the island, between March and June, migrating north from Antarctic waters.
It's easy walking country, and sunset overlooking Sandy Bay with a mixture of Gentoo and Magellanic penguins congregating on the white sand is just one of the spectacular views to be enjoyed here!
Bleaker's seven surrounding tussac islands, the Bleaker Island Group, are internationally recognised as an Important Bird Area (FK04), and the northern part of the island was designated as a National Nature Reserve in 1970. Several of the tussac islands are rat-free, and Cobb's wrens and Tussac birds breed there and are seen on Bleaker Island, while Sooty shearwaters and Grey-backed storm petrels have recently been found to be breeding on Sandy Bay Island. The main island comprises 2,070 ha (5,155 acres) with low cliffs, sandy beaches, bays and sheltered coves.
Sea Lion Island
Sea Lion Island is one of the smallest in the Falklands archipelago, and the most southerly inhabited island, but its abundance of wildlife makes it a prime location for nature lovers. The island is a designated National Nature Reserve and Ramsar site and is free from introduced predators such as cats and rats.
Beautiful tussac plantations cover one-fifth of the island and are alive with Falkland thrushes, Black-throated finches, Tussacbirds and Magellanic penguins. Large numbers of elephant seals and Southern sea lions, fur seals, penguins and birds of prey can also be found on many of the island's spectacular beaches. At the peak of the breeding season up to around 1800 Elephant seals can be found on the beaches. Killer whales visit November -January attracted by the many seals and penguins that breed there. They prey on the weaned pups practising swimming in pools close to the shore.
The 47 different species of breeding birds to be viewed on the island include three species of breeding penguin and five birds of prey including the internationally endangered Striated caracara. Every year brings exciting sightings of vagrants.
There is a memorial here to HMS Sheffield that was sunk in nearby waters.
Kidney Island lies about 0-5km (546 yds) off the coast of East Falkland, at the southern entrance to Berkeley Sound, 16km (10 miles) from Stanley. Kidney Island is reached by a 30-minute boat ride from Stanley. In summer, there are occasional evening cruises around the Island to view the seabirds. Cochon Island (8ha, 20 acres) lies a short distance north-west of Kidney Island and, with Kidney Island, makes up the Kidney Island Group Important Bird Area FK09.
Great shearwaters are found amongst this dense area of sooty shearwater burrows. Kidney Island has a small population of no more than 15 pairs but it is the only confirmed breeding site outside the far away Tristan da Cunha group of islands. The two shearwaters are summer residents arriving in September and departing in April. They are both tremendous travellers, with the great shearwater migrating as far north as Canada and some sooty shearwaters reaching Greenland. Kidney Island is also one of only four known nesting sites in the Falkland Islands for the white-chinned petrel, locally known as 'the shoemaker' (its ear-piercing, screaming trills are said to resemble a steel hammer tapping a small anvil). It is restricted to south facing slopes and is a burrowing bird, excavating curved burrows in soft peat up to 2m deep. White-chinned petrels have a vulnerable conservation status and are listed under the international Agreement on the Conservation of Albatrosses and Petrels (ACAP). Grey-backed storm petrels are believed to nest in the tussac on the island.
If you are not travelling onwards to South Georgia, then, if you are a penguin lover, do pay Volunteer Point a visit. Here you will meet a colony of some thousand or so King Penguins happy to greet and entertain you on a narrow spit of land not too far from Stanley..
VERY IMPORTANT: Falklands Conservation
The wildlife survives in such abundance because over the centuries some islands, not all, have been kept free of rats and mice. Cobb's wren for example cannot exist where there are rats and other wildlife is severely reduced. Because birds are ground nesting, it is crucial to all areas of wildlife importance in the Falkland Islands that invasive species are kept at bay.
To prevent the spread of invasive species and diseases, you are asked to comply with a few simple measures when travelling around the islands: make sure all of your clothing, equipment and luggage is free from soil, animal faeces, seeds, insects and rodents, and scrub your footwear before each visit to a different wildlife site or seabird colony.