Penguins

MUSIC: (1) "Minnie & Alex's Reel" by Natalie MacMaster and (2) "Music for a Found Harmonium" by Patrick Street

Our first morning in Antarctica, on Half Moon Island, we saw a large colony of chin-strap penguins.

Called "chin-strap" for obvious reasons.

We could hear the raucous cackling of the colony as soon as we came out on the deck of the ship, quite a distant away...

and we could also smell their stench from the ship too. I never knew penguins smelled so bad!

The chin-strap chicks were already pretty big, but still had their soft gray fluff.

The pink stuff is their guano, made pink by the krill (pink shrimp-like creatures) they eat.

Lots of chicks!

The chin-straps were my favorite.

So cute with their funny walk!

Mama penguin feeding her baby.

At Hannah Point we saw a few Macaroni penguins mixed in with the chin-strap colony.

The Macaroni penguins had these goofy spiky orange hairdos and fat bills. (Photo by Polar Star staff.)

YIKES! Somebody was very hungry... probably a skua or maybe a seal?

A colony of Gentoo penguins on Cuverville Island.

The gentoos have bright orange beaks and white eyebrow patches.

Mamas sitting on their eggs...

...and on their babies.

Hungry babies.

They make their nests from small pebbles.

Hey, whaddaya got under there?

Aha!

Most of the mamas I saw had just one egg or one baby. This one had two to feed.

Lots of "penguin highways" at this location.

Not exactly rush hour.

There was a lot of racing around, sometimes playing, sometimes fighting.

So goofy and awkward on land, once they get into the water penguins are lightning fast and remarkably graceful.

Skua coming in for a landing.

Skuas are large birds that feed on carrion and...

...well, that is a skua stalking between the gentoos' nests...

...obviously NOT welcome as they sometimes feed on penguin eggs and chicks. The next photo, taken by Mick Brown the bird specialist on the ship, is a graphic example. Warning: it is very gruesome.

(Photo by Mick Brown, Polar Star Staff)

Got guano? (This is one of the rare spots of green in Antarctica... moss-covered rocks.)

At the Yalour Islands we saw a colony of Adelie penguins.

Adelies are just black and white... the tuxedo coloring people typically think of when they think of penguins.

The Adelie chicks were about the same size as their parents but still had their gray fluff.

We saw some hatched eggs lying among the rocks.

More penguin highways.

I don't know what they were carrying on about...

...but they really set each other off.

Gentoo penguins at Neko Harbour, our last stop.

Practically handicapped on land, like liquid lightning beauty in the water.

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