Bleaker island visit
Just back in Stanley after a wonderful trip to see Mike Rendell on his organic farm on Bleaker island, just to the south of East Falkland. The flight over, in a small Islander plane is at low level - so that the coral white sand beaches and inlets really shine - sea lions, penguins and the odd cetacean are seen easily - it is stunning - think Hebridean white beaches and you are about there.
Bleaker is a thin, curved island about 14 miles long and relatively flat - windy, but with good grazing grasses and it supports about 1 or 2 sheep per 3 hectares - VERY extensive. Mike and his wife Phyll farm several thousand mixed Merino dual purpose sheep mostly for the organic market here in Stanley, but they also sell to the Falkland Island meat company abattoir. Their beef - Hereford and Angus is butchered at home for sale to their eco-friendly lodge guests, or is sold on the hoof to the abattoir - at much lower cost than a farmer back in the UK would expect - about 60%. So, meat is cheap and good here. The island also has good colonies of rockhopper and jackass penguins and the Falklands' largest colony of shags. Sealions too pop up in the tussock grass from time to time and cause some alarm to the unsuspecting tourist - thankfully this particular one is used to them so knows to keep well away from their hide holes - they are huge and dangerous.
I enjoy just sitting and looking at the mass of birds in the air - it is easy to pass hours just wrapped up warm on a cliff top staring out to sea where black browed Albatross, Skua, shags and gulls vie for the air with Giant petrels - an amazing mx of fast, fast birds. The penguins don't seem overly concerned by their flighted friends other than the Skua which harass them and look for weak chicks to attack. They go straight for the eyes, blinding the chick and chasing them to the death once disabled. It is harrowing, but it is nature - red in tooth and claw.
Back in Stanley now for another beautiful day - I have just had the last hair cut - all off! - and am now about to get a sunburnt head at the market garden and hydroponics site just east of Stanley where I am off to interview Tim Millar before going for a long walk with Sally, my mate who is one of the dentists here in Stanley. The town is full of tourists again - a couple of thousand can descend from a cruise ship in a day's visit - so it is nice to get out of the place and somewhere with this tourist can see a view of hills, rock rivers and little else.
We are due to sail Monday evening by the looks of it - but as the ship has now changed, for whatever reason, I am not sure. We have a good chunk of organic steak for tea - with homegrown salad from Sally and Richard's amazing polytunnel.
Not sure I will be able to blog again before heading south - so bye for now - and keep tuning in for news - lots of love, Gerard