|Location||Falkland Islands (Malvinas)|
|Central coordinates||58o 50.00' West 52o 11.00' South|
|IBA criteria||A1, A2, A4i|
|Altitude||0 - 27m|
|Year of IBA assessment||2006|
Ornithological information During a four-day surveying visit by a British Schools Exploring Society (BSES) party in November 2003, 46 possible breeding species were recorded, of which 37 were either confirmed or probably breeding. Afew immature Striated Caracaras visit the settlement but they are not known to breed within the group. The island rates A4i status through the large colonies of Imperial Shags and Rock Shags present in November 2003. The globally threatened Macaroni Penguin may breed, but this needs confirmation. The Tussacbird was numerous prior to rat infestation but very few are breeding now. Endemic sub-species present include Whitetufted/ Rolland’s Grebes, Black-crowned Night-herons and Upland Geese. The Falkland Grass Wren was present only in protected Tussac paddocks along the south-east-facing coast.
Site description Bleaker Island and its outlying islands, off the southeastern coast of East Falkland, are low lying and rarely exceed 15 m except at Semaphore Hill north-east of the settlement. Coasts vary from low cliffs with sloping bedrock beaches to wide sandy bays and sheltered coves. Inland, Bleaker Island is mostly open heathland, with several ponds, some of which provide good habitats for waterfowl. There are extensive coastal beds of giant kelp. Ghost Island lies only 300 m from Bleaker Island, across a channel thick with kelp and it is not known if rats are present. It is likely that this island, with two-thirds of its area covered with tall Tussac, has not been grazed. Sandy Bay Island has not been stocked but the rodent status is unclear. The island lies 1 mile (1.5 km) off the Bleaker coast and is relatively high, at nearly 20 m in the centre, with a good coverage of Tussac grass. The greater distance from Bleaker Island makes infestation by rats across the channel unlikely, though possible. Halt Island lies at the mouth of Bleaker Island harbour, only 1.3 miles (2 km) from the settlement, making this an obvious choice for stocking and grazing in the past. Again, the rodent status is not known. Few details exist for the smaller Tussac-covered First, Second and Third Islands in the settlement bay, except that First Island is linked to Bleaker and it is possible to cross on foot at low tides. In November 2003 the resident manager reported that all three islands had rats.
|Species||Season||Period||Population estimate||Quality of estimate||IBA Criteria||IUCN Category|
|Falkland Steamerduck Tachyeres brachypterus||breeding||2005||present [units unknown]||-||A2||Least Concern|
|Ruddy-headed Goose Chloephaga rubidiceps||breeding||2003||25 breeding pairs||unknown||A2||Least Concern|
|Gentoo Penguin Pygoscelis papua||breeding||2005||1,250 breeding pairs||unknown||A1||Near Threatened|
|Southern Rockhopper Penguin Eudyptes chrysocome||breeding||2005||720 breeding pairs||unknown||A1||Vulnerable|
|Magellanic Penguin Spheniscus magellanicus||unknown||2005||abundant [units unknown]||-||A1||Near Threatened|
|Southern Giant-petrel Macronectes giganteus||breeding||2005||170 breeding pairs||unknown||A1||Least Concern|
|Imperial Shag Phalacrocorax atriceps||breeding||2005||4,150 breeding pairs||unknown||A4i||Least Concern|
|Blackish Cinclodes Cinclodes antarcticus||breeding||2005||-||unknown||A2||Least Concern|
|White-bridled Finch Melanodera melanodera||unknown||2005||frequent [units unknown]||-||A2||Least Concern|
|Protected area||Designation||Area (ha)||Relationship with IBA||Overlap with IBA (ha)|
|Bleaker Island||Sanctuary||870||is identical to site||870|
|IUCN habitat||Habitat detail||Extent (% of site)|
Other biodiversity The BSES recorded 79 species of flowering plants from 20 1-km squares; 53 were native, 26 were introduced species and four endemic: Lady’s Slipper Calceolari fothergillii, Clubmoss Cudweed Chevreulia lycopodioides, Vanilla Daisy Leucheria suaveolens and Coastal Nassauvia Nassauvia gaudichaudii. Interesting species of note included the Yellow Orchid Gavilea littoralis, Whitlowgrass Draba funiculosa, Californian Club-rush Schoenoplectus californicus and Gillie’s Dandelion Taraxacum gilliesii.
Management considerations Norway Rats were accidentally introduced to Bleaker in the mid-1980s and have now spread throughout the island and on to First, Second and Third Islands. Feral cats were present for many years until they were eradicated in 2001. It is very important to establish whether rats are present on Sandy Bay, Halt, North Point and Ghost Islands. The Cobb’s Wren was present and breeding on Bleaker Island in 1961 before the introduction of rats but was noticeably absent in November 2003. All visitors should be informed about the dangers of accidentally introducing alien species to the islands. On Bleaker Island itself, a limited programme is under way to control rats around the settlement, and eradication work for the whole island may be considered in the future. If this is successful, there is high potential for increased numbers of IBA qualifying species in the future. The vegetation on the main island has suffered from years of overgrazing. Reduced grazing pressure in recent years and replanting of eroded areas in protected paddocks is allowing slow regeneration of Tussac and native flowering plants. Bleaker Island is a developing tourist destination within the Falklands and it is very important that the Falkland Islands Countryside Code (see Appendix 1) is followed, particularly to guard against the risk of fire. On the outlying islands, the main priority for future work is to assess their bird populations. No management plans can be made until this information is obtained.
Contribute Please click here to help BirdLife conserve the world's birds - your data for this IBA and others are vital for helping protect the environment.
Recommended citation BirdLife International (2013) Important Bird Areas factsheet: Bleaker Island Group. Downloaded from http://www.birdlife.org on 21/05/2013
To provide new information to update this factsheet or to correct any errors, please email BirdLife