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.
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.
BirdLife International (2023) Important Bird Areas factsheet: Bertha's Beach, East Falkland. Downloaded from
http://www.birdlife.org on 24/03/2023.