Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 43.djvu/556

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24th of October, in 3° 56′ north, 25° 15′ 15″ west, and 2° 33′ north, 25° 37′ west respectively, and from the 17th to 22d, 25th, and 31st October and the 2d November the thermometer registered 80·8° to 83°.

On the 8th of December the rising sun dispersed a dense fog and revealed the rugged shores of West Falkland, the first land we had seen for three months, and in its likeness recalling the last glimpses we had of Cape Wrath. By noon we had dropped anchor, and during the next few days, while the ship was being stocked with a supply of fresh meat and water, the surgeons of the vessels were able to make one or two short excursions. These excursions, however, had to be extremely brief, for not knowing when the ships would depart it was necessary to remain in sight of them the whole time. A few plants, stones, and insects were hastily gathered together, and several birds shot. Among the latter were the notable steamer duck and the upland goose. A striking feature of the Falkland Islands is the great absence of trees; the camp, as the open country is termed, is clothed with a short scrub called diddle-dee (Empetrum rubrum), growing upon and indeed chiefly forming the enormous peat-beds that this country is so rich in; the largest bush native to the country is the gigantic woolly ragweed, which grows to a height of three or four feet; but there are few flowering plants. The gorse or furze has been introduced and seems to thrive well, but a few trees that have been planted about Stanley present a meager appearance. Mosses and lichens abound everywhere and many of the lichens are very beautiful. Besides the above-mentioned, one must note the ever-famous balsam bogs and tussock grass, and the enormous banks of kelp that fringe the coast, the stems of which vary in length from five to forty feet. Among birds, the penguins and albatross must not be forgotten. Insects are rare. The famous wolf-like fox is almost extinct; Darwin's prophecy is coming true—the wild horses and cattle now no longer roam the plains, their place having been taken by the more remunerative sheep. The fur-seal is still found, but so eagerly have they been hunted that their numbers have been greatly reduced. A solitary lizard and a few insects almost complete the list of animals found in these islands. One must ever remember the world-renowned streams of stones and the characteristic quartz rocks cutting their way through the quilt of peat. But Darwin, Hooker, and others have so ably pictured the natural features of the Falkland Islands that it would be out of place to describe them again after so short a visit. There is a great change, however, since Darwin's time—he found it a settlement of thieves and murderers, now it is a peaceful British colony, for, after a disputed possession of the islands by Britain, Spain, France, and Buenos Ayres, Britain finally took