Carcass Island lies north west of West Falkland and south east of the Jason Islands. It is one of the most picturesque outer-lying islands.
In its 100 plus years of habitation it has had only three environmentally conscious owners and an absence of cats and rats, making the luxuriant, well established hedges and trees an attractive home to many small birds such as the Cobb’s wren, Black-chinned siskins and Falklands thrush.
The sandy beaches, rolling hills and low cliffs are superb platforms from which to view the multitude of sea and shore birds that either breed or feed on and around Carcass Island.
These include the Gentoo and Magellanic penguin, Yellow-billed pintail and Flightless steamer duck, Magellanic oystercatcher, Rock shag, Striated caracara and Red-backed hawk.
Stanley Hill, just behind the settlement, gives commanding views across Byron sound to West Falkland, and from Mount Byng (304m) one can see as far as the Jasons and Pebble Island on one side and away to New Island on the other.
The north and south of the island provide great hiking opportunities, taking in beaches (some good beachcombing), and interesting flora, penguin colonies, and sheltered dunes.
History of Carcass Island
The island’s name comes from the ship HMS Carcass, which surveyed the island in 1766 – its accompanying vessel HMS Jason, gave its name to the nearby Jason Islands, and its captain, John McBride, gave his name to MacBride head.
It is currently run as a sheep farm by Rob McGill. Its small settlement, lying on Port Patterson on the south west coast, is also known for its gardens, and has a small shop/grocery. It has been settled continuously for over a hundred years.
Carcass Island was considered as one of the potential sites for a British amphibious landing during the Falklands War however, in the event, the British landings took place on San Carlos Water in the west of East Falkland, on Falkland Sound. The plan would have been for a “stone aircraft carrier”.
The main objections to this plan were, Carcass Island, being in the west of the archipelago was nearest to continental Argentine bases, its proximity to the airbase on Pebble Island, and its remoteness from Stanley, as it was furthest from the main objectives, and West Falkland was ultimately bypassed in the war.
The island has no rats or cats, and as a result has a wide variety of birdlife including Black-crowned Night Herons, known in the Falkland Islands as “quarks”, as well as seals and penguins. Tussock grass also grows here.
The island contains one of the few substantial stands of trees in the Falklands. There is however, a true wood at Hill Cove. None of the species are endemic, though they include such exoticisms as Monterey cypress trees, and New Zealand cabbage palms. The night herons nest within these trees. The gardens also include other introduced plants such as fuchsias, lupins, and dog roses.
Falkland Islands series, Carcass Island Stamps
First day cover. Falkland Islands: Stanley. Island series. Cachet: map of Carcass Island.
Four stamps: yellow violet; tussac bird; Carcass Island settlement; black-crowned night heron. 28 September 2001.