Forming the southernmost land in the Falklands archipelago, Beauchêne Island is located approximately 33 miles (54 km) south of Porpoise Point, Lafonia. It has not been grazed or permanently settled, is free of introduced predators and its remote location has protected the island from disturbance in recent years. In the north, the island is covered in dense Tussac and the coastline is gently sloping, up to around 30 m high. There are boulder beaches on the western coast. In the south, the land rises to around 70 m with higher cliffs on the eastern coast and fissured steep slopes. The southern quarter of the island is almost bare of vegetation.
More than 30 species have been recorded, the majority being migratory seabirds that are present in very large numbers during the breeding season. The site is significant for the second largest populations in the world of Blackbrowed Albatrosses and Rockhopper Penguins, and apparently the second most dense breeding population of Striated Caracaras in the Falklands. Beauchêne Island is also important for Wilson’s Storm-petrels, Grey-backed Storm-petrels and Common Diving Petrels. It is the only confirmed breeding site for Fairy Prions in the Falkland Islands. The endemic Cobb’s Wren breeds and appears to be fairly numerous. There is a colony of around 2,500 pairs of Imperial Shags, and White-chinned Petrels probably breed, but this has not been confirmed. Southern Giant Petrels and Magellanic Penguins are present, but populations are too small to qualify. The total congregation of seabirds far exceeds 10,000 breeding pairs, making this site classifiable under the A4iii criterion.
Non-bird biodiversity: The island is also host to a few breeding Southern Sea Lions and is a major haul-out station for non-breeding animals, which can congregate in numbers of up to a hundred individuals on the northern part of the island. It is remarkable for the paucity of plant species. Two-thirds of its area is covered by Tussac, which here reaches exceptional and luxuriant dimensions. Three other vascular species have been recorded, including Wild Celery Apium australe, Antarctic Starwort Callitrache antarctica and Bittercress Cardamine glacialis.
BirdLife International (2021) Important Bird Areas factsheet: Beauchêne Island. Downloaded from http://www.birdlife.org on 13/04/2021.