Monday, October 22, 2007

The Penguin Curse is broken!

The week's glorious weather was forecast to stay for the weekend, so Ant, Dean, Richard and I eagerly booked a Snocat and packed our bags, hoping to get away early on Sunday morning.

Traveling in Antarctica requires three elements of weather to play nicely: Temperature, wind speed and visibility. Sunday morning was warm, windless...
...but cloudy with zero contrast. Was my curse going to strike again?

Thankfully we could see enough to drive, so loaded the Cat and headed to Windy bay. As we arrived the weather cleared and after a quick weather check with base, we abseiled down to the colony.

The first thing I noticed with the numbers. About three times more than before, with a new colony right at the foot of the abseil.

The colony gets bigger

The chicks were a lot bigger and more confident, running free of their parents.

Chicks and father

But still coming back for a good feed...

Mmmm. Partially digested krill

A few were still thinking they could fit in their parent's pouch. It wasn't going to happen, but made us laugh.

Too big!

Towards the back of the second colony, a number of large creches had formed. Adults group their young so they can get out to sea for a much needed feed. The chicks huddle together for warmth, protected by a number of adults who occasionally wade in and reorganise the huddle so all chicks get time in the centre as well as the edge.

Adults organising the creche


Of course, not all survive. But after the storm force winds we've had since my last visit, there were far fewer casualties than I had expected.

Survival of the fattest

Very very fluffy

Both the adults and chicks were far more confident with our presence. Some wandered up to within a metre of where I was sitting and looked at me inquisitively, then waddled off with the look of having far more important things to do!

Creche with larger chicks behind

We spent about three hours on the ice, then headed home.

Richard coming back up the rope

After so many failed attempts it was great to get to see them again, and to see how fast they grow.

More larger photos, click here.


Anonymous matt said...


12:40 pm GMT  

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