Bertha's Beach, East Falkland

Site description (2006 baseline):

Site location and context
Fox Point camp, formerly an island, is largely maritime heathland surrounded by boulder beaches with some sandy coves. Fox Point to Bertha’s Beach is a typical example of Falkland coastal wetland habitat with a long, white sand beach bordered by extensive coastal dunes, many large freshwater ponds and brackish lagoons. To the landward side of Bertha’s Beach, Whitegrass plains are dominant. This area was one of the first two Ramsar sites to be declared in the Falklands and is located only a few kilometres from Mount Pleasant Airport. North-east of Bertha’s Beach, from Elephant Point to Pleasant Point is a large area of undulating coastal lowland with promontories and islands almost enclosing Kelp Lagoon. Elephant and Burnt Islands and the Kelp Islands are Crown land. There are very extensive kelp beds up to 2.5 miles (4 km) offshore from Elephant Point to Boat Point.

Key biodiversity
The coastal area and lagoon margins are particularly important for large congregations of migratory species. These include non-breeding summer visitors from the Canadian Arctic: White-rumped Sandpipers, Sanderlings and Hudsonian Godwits occur regularly in higher numbers than in other parts of the Falklands; Whimbrels, Ruddy Turnstones, Least Seedsnipe, Baird’s Sandpipers and several other rare visitors have been recorded, often associated with the resident Two-banded Plover, Rufouschested (Plover) Dotterel and both species of oystercatcher. The ponds, behind Bertha’s Beach and the dunes, support a variety of waterbirds: Black-necked Swans, Chiloe Wigeons, Patagonian Crested Ducks, Flying Steamer Ducks, Silver Teals, Yellow-billed Pintails, Speckled Teals (numerous) and both resident species of grebe breed. Coscoroba Swans, Red Shovelers, Snowy Egrets and Chilean Flamingos have all occurred irregularly.

Non-bird biodiversity: The northern Kelp Islands hold a breeding population of Southern Sea Lions, with 165 pups in 2002, which was the largest number found at any colony in the Falklands during that year. The site is not known to hold any breeding populations of Southern Elephant Seals. A small colony of Southern Sea Lions breeds on Direction Island just off Bertha’s Beach, and Peale’s Dolphins Lagenorhynchus australis can often be seen from the shore, playing in the surf. No comprehensive botanical studies have taken place in this IBA except in the Ramsar site, where 77 species of flowering plants were recorded in 1997 and the rare Dusen’s Moonwort Botrychium dusenii was found on the greens.

Pressure/threats to key biodiversity
The site has high recreational and educational value because of its proximity to the military base at Mount Pleasant Airport. Excessive human activity could be detrimental to the biodiversity of this important site. Until the Ramsar designation in 2002, there were live firing activities from the beach out to open water. These have now ceased and are unlikely to occur again. Motor vehicles are not allowed on Bertha’s Beach as they would cause disturbance during the breeding season. This site would benefit from signs to guide people away from sensitive areas. During the summer of 2001, an extensive grass fire from a neighbouring farm burnt very close to parts of the site, destroying many acres of vegetation. It is very important that the Falkland Islands Countryside Code is followed, particularly to guard against the risk of fire. Feral cats, rats, mice and Brown Hares Lepus capensis are all present in this region of East Falkland. It is not known if the islands in the site are similarly infested. All visitors should be informed about the dangers of introducing more alien species to the Falklands.

Recommended citation
BirdLife International (2024) Important Bird Area factsheet: Bertha's Beach, East Falkland. Downloaded from on 21/02/2024.