Penguins and petrels / by Jerry

I meant to write this blog over a week ago, so it's already out of date. I'll summarise my main photos and get on with writing a new one.

Gentoo Penguins

The Gentoo chicks are rapidly approaching fledging time, with very few left sporting many fluffy, downy feathers. They're fatter than the trimmed-down adults yet still chasing them up and down the beaches in their relentless quest for food. 

I've had some fun evenings watching them investigating the surf over on Landing Beach. They're quite nervous entering the water and when they do decide to swim they usually find their excess fat means diving below the surface is impossible.
The chicks are also quite fearless and curious - as I lay still one came over to investigate and found the elasticated toggle of my jacket very interesting.


We had a second night camping on Molly Meadows, looking for Blue Petrels on which to deploy tiny GPSs that will tell us where they are feeding. It was another fun night, sitting round drinking tea, eating crisps and getting up every 15 minutes to check on our study burrows.

We've done similar work with the White-chinned Petrels, which are significantly bigger and angrier. The first stage is to identify and mark occupied burrows - those with both adults and chicks. The latter are at the incredibly fluffy stage, where they appear to be all downy feathers with a beak and feet but no eyes.


The end of each month sees everyone on base take part in the Wandering Albatross survey. At this stage we're looking for new nests, failed nests and the ring numbers of some birds. We split the island up and I volunteered for the big walk off to Farewell Point. There's only one nest there and we need the ring number of one of the birds, though of course it was the partner sitting there that day. 
I sat having a drink and watching a group of petrels and prions feeding in Bird Sound when a whale appeared in the middle of them - a single Southern Right Whale to be precise, moving slowly against the tide and occasionally diving, lifting its tail high as it did so.

Back on base

Any excuse for a celebratory dinner really, and with two genuine Scottishers here we weren't going to let Burns Night pass without a haggis, neeps, tatties, deep-fried Mars bar and whisky. To complete the scene we arrived for dinner in the traditional Jimmy Hat and two plaid shirts tied around the waist as a makeshift kilt.