Ruddy-headed Goose
Rudy-headed goose

Ruddy-headed Goose

This rarity clings on to survival thanks to its colony on the Falklands

Information about Ruddy-headed Goose

Our Expert Says… "It can be difficult to distinguish this species from the female Upland Geese, but your guide will point out the tell-tale differences so you can be sure to tick this one off your spotting list."

The ruddy-headed goose was once common on the plains of southern Chile and the Falkland Islands but is now very rare on the mainland. This makes the Falklands population of ruddy-headed geese an important breeding group for the survival of the species.

The mainland population has reached the brink of extinction because of predation by the introduced South American Grey Fox, which was used to reduce rabbit populations but has had dramatic effects on other wildlife. The Falklands Island population is thought to be healthy and stable, with about 6,000 individuals, compared to just a few hundred remaining in Chile.

The head and upper part of the neck of this goose is a rich brown color, and hence the descriptive name for the species. The rest of the bird is a buff color, with pale grey wings. It is sometimes confused with the female Upland Goose, but the ruddy-headed geese are smaller and with fewer bars on the breast feathers with a very distinct brown neck (rather than gradually diffusing into the breast). Your expert Antarctic naturalist guides will help you ensure you have the correct species in your binoculars!

This goose builds a loose nest made of grass and lined with feathers where it lays between 5 and 8 eggs each October. They prefer to nest close to established ponds, and outside the breeding season, they will form loose flocks that forage together.

Pictures of Ruddy-headed Goose

Rudy-headed goose

Highlights where the Ruddy-headed Goose can be seen

Bleaker Island

Bleaker Island (known as Isla Maria in Spanish) has had at least 3 changes of the name since the Falkland Islands were first discovered and colonized.

It was first named Long Island - a rather unimaginative title because that’s what it is, long and thin. Its name was changed to Breaker Island and it appeared like this on maps and charts until 1859, when a new chart was published with the name changed to Bleaker. What was probably a printing error has stuck ever since!

There was evidence that sealers had been using Bleaker Island as a base, but there was no permanent settlement attempted until 1880 when a house was built and a sheep farm set up. The island has been used for rearing ship ever since, and now has some cattle as well. It’s run as an organic farm and tourist destination, with stewardship of the land to allow both commercial farming and wildlife preservation at its heart.

A formally-designated Important Bird Area (or IBA), Bleaker Island is home to a large breeding colony of Imperial Cormorants more than 16,000 strong. Other species to be found here include Gentoo penguins who nest on the appropriately-named Penguin Hill above Sandy Bay. There are also Southern Rockhopper penguins to be found near Long Gulch and Magellanic penguin burrows are widespread.

There are also many smaller bird species here, including Falklands grass wrens and pipits, black-chinned siskins, and dark-faced ground-tyrants. There are also some birds of prey including southern caracaras.

The Falkland Islands

The Falkland Islands (known in Argentina as Islas Malvinas) is an archipelago in the South Atlantic Ocean. Most people may be familiar with them because of the conflict that was fought here by armed forces from Argentina and the UK in 1982, but there is so much more to the Falklands.

Inhabited since 1764, these remote islands have been colonized and claimed by many countries - France and Spain have claimed them (and Argentina since its formation and former Spanish colony) although it’s the British descendants who make up the majority of the islands’ 4,000 population. As a British Overseas Territory, the Falklands are self-governing, but the UK is responsible for defense and foreign affairs. Argentina still disputes the sovereignty of the islands they call the Malvinas.

Made up of two large islands (East and West Falkland) and over 700 smaller islands and islets, the Falklands are as beautiful as they are rugged and remote. Despite its history as a base for South Atlantic whalers and sealers, and more recently extensive sheep farming, the Falkland Islands have retained great biodiversity, and modern conservation has ensured many previously struggling wild species are now returning.

The Falklands is home to important populations of albatross, having some of the largest breeding sites in the world. They are also home to the rare striated caracara, 63 species of nesting land bird, and 5 penguin species. Seals, whales, dolphins, and other marine life are also abundant. Finally, the rugged landscape itself has a stark beauty, and the islanders, although hardy, offer everyone the warmest of welcomes, usually accompanied by a hearty Falklands Tea.

Fishing and farming account for the vast majority of the Falklands Islands income, although tourism is increasingly important. Many of the farms on the islands are now managed with wildlife conservation in mind, and the Falklands is a wildlife management success story.

Although most ships visit Stanley (usually for a day), the main focus on 'expedition' cruises are the outer islands with all the wildlife, and some of the special breeding birds like Black-browed Albatross and Southern Rockhopper Penguins and some Patagonia specialists like the Striated Caracara. Also bear in mind, with cruises that also go to South Georgia and the peninsula, only 2 or 3 days are normally spent in the Falklands, although some cruises spend longer here.

Westpoint Island

Well-named West Point Island is one of the furthest points in the northwest of the Falklands archipelago. Known originally as Albatross Island (and Isla Remolinos in Spanish), this 5.5 square miles of grassy rock has some of the most stunning scenery to be found in the islands.

West Point is a working sheep farm and is owned by the Napier family, who will warmly welcome you to their home, and it is a very popular site to visit. As its original name implies, you can walk ross the island to be be welcomed by the calls and shrieks from the huge colony of black-browed albatross that live here. In fact, more than two-thirds of the world’s entire albatross population breed here in the Falklands!

You are able to follow a path through the tussock grass right next to the colony that is actually a mixture of Black-browed Albatross and Southern Rockhopper Penguins, the penguins nesting between the raised nests of the albatross colony. It is a superb location to observe these two iconic Falklands species up close.

Magellanic Penguin also breed nearby and other notable bird species include Striated Caracaras, Cobb's Wrens, Blackish Cinclodes, and White-bridled finches. In fact, there are so many important species here that West Point Island has been formally listed as an Important Bird Area (IBA).

The other thing you’ll get on West Point is fantastic Napier hospitality! Your group will be welcomed with traditional tea, cake, and biscuits as well as an invitation to walk around the island gardens.

Our trips to spot the Ruddy-headed Goose

Price
Min Price

USD 3800

Max Price

USD 31000

Duration (days)
Min Days

5

Max Days

26