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Penguins

No trip down to the South Atlantic would be complete without a visit to the penguins. In particular the King Penguins (the ones on the penguin biscuit wrapper).

Penguin Excursion

bob boggedThis trip was something I really wanted to do outside of the war tours and other pilgrimage activities. I had arranged with Bob and Lynne (my hosts) to visit these birds on the Saturday of my visit as this is the only day off they had to spend with me. The word got round that I was going to see penguins and soon there were several trips organised and it became a really popular excursion.

(Bob pictured left)

prepBefore we could get going on the trip Bob changed the wheels on his 4 x 4 then it was a 3 hour trip over bog land to vounteer point (having got there by road first). You normally had to pay £15.00 a head to go accross the owners land but as Ex Falklands War Veterans Bob was having none of that and after a tactical phone call no money passed hands. However the land owner did not mark the tracks either so it was a mini adventure getting to the penguins. At one point Bob drove along a rocky beach as he was hacked off with being bogged untileven this route became unpassable due to large rocks and so onto the bog we went again. We boged a few times but I won't say how many as Bob knows where I live. Anyway the the trip was very much worth the hassle and besides the off road was becoming a new sport to us all.

The King Penguins

king penguinsThere is an estimated 400 pairs of King Penguins on the Islands and these are almost entirely concentrated at one site, Volunteer Point (East Falkland). If you have seen Happy Feet the movie then you will know that these penguins make no nest, and instead hold the single egg on their feet for the entire incubation period of about 55 days. The pairs will breed 2 times in 3 years. These birds were easy to sit amongst and were very inquisitive and came right up to you especially the babies.

 

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The above picture is on a sandy beach and not snow it was summer when the picture was taken.

Beaches : The sand on the beaches is so white it often gets mistaken in pictures for snow

Gentoo Penguins

gentooThere are around 65,000 Gentoo and they are ground nesting using stones,sticks,grass and feathers.Although the numbers are large the population is in decline. These penguins get affected by fishing trawlers although this is not blamed as the decline in numbers.

Although there are many of these on the islands I only glimpsed a clony of around a 100 pairs. Unlike the King Penguins these birds stank of fish so I did not hang around them too long and made my way back to the king penguins. Cheeky looking biuggers but not as comical as the kings.

 

 

 

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Gentoo Colony

Landmines: There are no mines around the penguin colonies but lots of penguin pooh!

Jackass

jackassThe Magellanic Penguin is a summer resident (population estimated at 100,000 pairs) which arrives to breed in the Islands in September. It nests in burrows excavated 4 - 6 feet deep. The local name of Jackass is derived from its loud braying call, frequently uttered at the entrance to the burrow. This breed was hard for me to photograph as they were pretty shy and went underground on approach.

I waited around very still for 5 minutes to get this picture of a Jackass fully out of his burrow.

The one below was down by the beach and again the sand is very white.



Click on the video player start button to see some King Penguins going from the beach to the sea.



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Jackass going into burrow

Thje other penguin species was the Rockhopper but I only saw these from a distance around Stanley.

Go to Homeward bound......

Version: 19 March 2008