Walking in a minefield

Image copyright Alamy

The minefields laid in the Falkland Islands were intended to kill or maim British soldiers, but over the last 35 years they have become de facto nature reserves for penguins. For better or worse, however, the time has now come for their home to be demined, reports Matthew Teller.

I’m following a crunching gravel path leading up over a headland.

To one side stretches a sweeping curve of white sand, backed by tussocky dunes, the coarse grass mixed with a low-growing plant bearing tartly sweet red berries that the locals call diddle-dee.

They don’t seem to be heavy enough to set them offEsther Bertram, Falklands Conservation

But it’s the sound that startles. Overlaying the booming ocean is a comical honking noise coming from thousands of Magellanic penguins. One, guarding its burrow beside the path, stretches its neck up at me, then lets out an ear-splitting, wing-waggling bray of displeasure.

I can see why these penguins are known locally as jackasses.

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