Lying to the southeast of Lafonia, East Falkland, this long (approx 12 miles or 19km) and thin island, never more than 2 miles or 3km wide and in some places almost severed by heavy indentations created by the sea, offers a good range of wildlife including three breeding species of penguin. The island is just a 30 minute flight from Stanley. It is privately owned and run as an organic sheep and cattle farm which operates smoothly in conjunction with tourism.
Visitors can enjoy a large amount of wildlife in a very compact area and the wildlife sites of most interest are all conveniently located close to the settlement. The highlight of the island is the Rockhopper penguin colony of some 750 pairs situated only a short walk from the cottage. Further south a Gentoo penguin colony and scattering of Magellanic penguins can be found. Long Gulch is fringed with tussac grass which attracts many smaller birds such as Grass and Cobb’s wrens, and around 9,000 pairs of King cormorants form the main seabird colonies along the cliff tops. These tussac areas also offer regular sightings of black-chinned siskins, dark-faced ground-tyrants, Falkland pipits and thrushes, black-throated finches and long-tailed meadowlarks.
The islands ponds are home to White-tufted and Silver grebes, Chiloe widgeon, Speckled and Silver teal, flying steamer ducks as well as Black-necked swans. The surrounding open areas are frequented by crested and striated caracaras, variable hawks, and large populations of ruddy-headed geese, two-banded plovers and white-rumped sandpipers. Adjoining coastal zones are favourite haunts of the flightless steamer duck, Magellanic and blackish oystercatcher and crested duck. At least 37 species of bird are known to breed on the island.
On the rocks and tussac fringes to the south of the settlement large numbers of southern sea lions haul out between October and January. To the east of the island, Peale’s dolphins swim in small groups along the outer edges of kelp beds, whilst Commerson’s dolphins frequent the shallower waters on the island’s western perimeter.
The open country and long sandy beaches of Bleaker Island offer some great hiking opportunities during which visitors should also look out for some of the local vegetation such as the Yellow orchid, the attractive Dog orchid and the Lady’s Slipper.
On a day’s walk round-trip from the settlement you will be able to cover most of the wildlife areas. Keep an eye open on Pebbly Bay to the south of the settlement for sea lions and visiting elephant seals. Then as you head past Long Gulch and up the east coast towards Sandy Bay you will cover the stretch of coast with the most spectacular bird life. Long Gulch is just one of a number of the dramatic inlets in the rocky cliffs. The top of the clifftop is bordered with tussock grass and it is here that approx. 9,000 pairs of King cormorants group together whilst on the seaside of the tussock they are joined by a colony of Rockhopper penguins. Further on as you round the headland to Sandy Bay you will walk the length of the beach to reach the highway of Gentoo penguins. Magellanic penguin burrows feature across the island. Once at the northern end of the beach you can return to the settlement via Big Pond which supports a wide variety of waterfowl. South of the pond you can climb 80ft or 27m to the highest point on Bleaker Island, Semaphore Hill.
Named after naturalist Arthur Cobb, one of the island’s former farmers. Built in 2001, upgraded in 2013.
• Accommodation for parties of up to 4 adults
• 2 twin rooms, both ensuite
• Additional folding beds available for 2 children
• Lounge/dining area • Kitchen
• Sun lounge
• Wi-fi access is available at Cassard House for all guests.
The newest accommodation on the island completed in 2011.
• Accommodation for up to 8 people.
• 3 twin rooms and 1 double room. All rooms ensuite.
• Large lounge and adjoining dining area.
• Spacious sun lounge
• Well equipped kitchen.
• Honesty bar.
• Wi-fi connectivity.
Both houses are equipped with:-
Central heating. Gas cooking facilities. 24-hour electricity. Flat screen TV. Video/DVD and mini Hi-fi with Ipod dock. Cottages operate year-round. Full board accommodation is available from 1 October – 30 April. Normally full board guests will eat in Cassard House, but on request and subject to staff availability, meals can be cooked and/or served in Cobb’s Cottage.
A small store provides a limited but adequate range of tinned and dried foodstuffs, as well as fresh eggs and vegetables.
Hire vehicle is available for self-drive or guided tours.