The Wandering Albatross chicks that
hatched around the start of March have been sitting tight all winter,
protected from the blizzards by huge amounts of fluffy down. Showing
through that down now are good numbers of adult feathers,
particularly on the wings, head and chest. Although they're still a
few months off fledging many of them are able to stand up properly
and will soon start walking, exploring the area around their nests.
|Wandering Albatross chick overlooking Bird Sound.|
So this is the time for ringing them
all. I've been out helping Steph as she covers the whole island,
seeing to every one of the 500 chicks. The information we get back
from these rings will provide information on survival rates,
distribution, migration and breeding success of these huge,
magnificent but endangered birds.
|A sign of things to come...|
I'd been out doing this and checking on
the chick at the far end of the island on August 31st. I'd
been told not to be back too late and when I returned I was allowed a
quick cup of tea and shower before Hannah suggested we go for a walk
up the hill. We headed up and over to the hut at Fairy Point from
where I do the majority of my Macaroni Penguin work. There, Craig and
Steph had decorated and warmed up some food and carried over a few
beers – it was my surprise birthday meal! We had a good laugh and
fought off the cold with tilley lamps and numerous cups of tea.
|Crammed together around the table awaiting dinner.|
Over night it snowed heavily, so once
we'd wiped the condensation from the window we could see white all
around us. The skies had cleared for the journey back so we got some
great views of the snow-covered island.
|Cabin in the snow. Behind the 'Love Shack' is Big Mac, where about 40,000 pairs of Macaroni Penguins will soon return to breed. In front of it is Little Mac, where about 500 will.|
|Chating to the Geeps on the way back.|
I returned for some beautifully made
presents (framed picture, photo-book, knitted penguin) before we had
a hot-tub and huge pizza. Brilliant.
Here's a few more photos of what's happening:
|Antarctic Tern fishing in the bay. There's been quite a lot of terns about recently and with some low tides they're regularly seen fishing just off the beach, going for the tiny crustaceans and fish.|
|Average day of a Gentoo penguin; jump up on a rock, eat some snow, get confused how to get down from the rock.|
|Chinstrap penguin; an occasional visitor from a bit further south.|
|Pair of adult Wandering Albatrosses taking advantage of the rare opportunity when they both return to feed their chick at the same time to indulge in a bit of mutual preening and pair-bonding.|
|Leopard Seal hauled out on the brash ice for a rest.|
|Taking advantage of the super-low tide to do a bit of rockpooling.|
|Amongst the seaweed, sponges and anemones are lots of tiny crustaceans, hanging on among the swirling waves.|
|Always a pleasure to see - a nudibranch!|
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