Saturday, February 9, 2013

A Favorite Thing Saturday - Falkland Islands penguins......


With no fast/reasonably priced Internet at sea, 
I was unable to participate in Claudia's 
A Favorite Thing Saturdays 
whilst on the expedition to Antarctica. 
Today however, now settled in at home again, I'm linking 
this post to today's blog party.


The charming little 15 inch high crested Rockhopper, smallest of the sub-antarctic penguins, takes its name from the preferred method of locomotion on the steep rocky slopes it inhabits.


Their nests are simple structures of grass, pebbles and peat, and two eggs are laid, the first smaller than the second. Both usually hatch but the second once is often the only one to survive to fledging. There are 850,000 breeding pairs scattered between the islands of the Southern Ocean - please don't ask me how they get those numbers, just trust the researchers!


Rockhopper penguins live in unison with the Black-browed albatross and Blue-Eyed Shag - in large colonies on the 
cliffside rocks and tussock grass meadows.


Nature is not always kind, well not to our eyes, when it comes to predatory facts of the animal kingdom. This is the Skua, a conspicuous bird in sub-Antarctic penguin colonies actively seeking eggs and chicks for a meal. Adult penguins have nothing to fear but chicks, once no longer needing to be guarded by an adult, are often attacked and taken.


The Skua waiting patiently on the rocks........... 


........where most of the Rockhoppers had a fluffy chick now a couple of months old and able to be left in 'penguin crèches' with their friends.


These are adorable birds on land but are truly at home in the water where they spend the Winter at sea, not coming ashore for five or six months, then arriving back in August-October for the breeding season.


Note those large, tough looking webbed feet for all that 
sharp rock hopping........



.......and holding onto grass and pebbles while flippers are 
kept for balance and swimming.


 From all angles this bird, perfectly outfitted in basic 
black and white with punk hairstyle and eyebrows, 
is ready for every social occasion!




Just visible here in my pic above is the beautiful colored eye 
of this large preening bird.


The Antarctic or Blue-eyed Shag is the only cormorant found in Antarctica, and at a distance is often mistaken for a penguin. There is a superficial resemblance in the upright stance and black and white pattern but of course the shag can fly. They have an astounding diving ability of up to 370 feet to find fish and bottom-dwelling crustaceans. This pic above of the shag chick shows it's size and strong wings with the pin feathers already growing - there are 2-3 eggs laid and the birds fledge when 65 days old. These birds live in harmony with the penguins and albatrosses.


A lovely mix of Rockhoppers and Shags, adults and chicks.


Following a magical early morning shore excursion, we headed 
back to the ship.



Pearlwort is the only flowering plant (other than hair grass) that occurs in Antarctica and is found mainly around penguin colonies.......more than 260 species of brilliantly colored lichens adorn rocky outcrops.


A tiny settlement sits above the harbor.......we enjoyed a 
quick visit to the museum there........


...........before riding the 
Zodiac back to waiting M/S Expedition for the 
re-position to West Point Island and 
afternoon tea.  

Such a treat awaited us - more on this later.


Do stop by Claudia's blog at Mockingbird Hill Cottage to join her and friends this weekend......and I just know what Claudia's doing this morning, gazing out her windows at all that snow falling in the huge Northeast storm. Take care Claudia and all who are going to be digging out over the coming days.  

10 comments:

  1. I love those Rockhopper penguins, they look as if they have sunglasses on.

    As usual wonderful pictures and descriptions, I have enjoyed my journey so far very much, thanks Mary.

    xx

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  2. I am enjoying your pictures of your trip:)

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  3. Awww ~ I love Penguins!

    Hugs,
    Susan and Bentley

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  4. Amazing photos! Found you on A Favorite Thing. :) I would love to have you share this tomorrow on The Creative HomeAcre Hop!
    http://www.theselfsufficienthomeacre.com/2013/02/the-creative-homeacre-hop-2.html

    Have a wonderful weekend!

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  5. Love the photos and all the information. Such amazing trips you take. So glad you share them with us!

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  6. I agree totally with ALL of the above comments!
    Thank you for sharing them with us Mary :o)
    Rose H
    xx

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  7. Its so good to be back in Blogland and see and read your blog again Mary. I love the picture of the wrecked boat on the beach by the way. I completely sympathise with your slow connection on Boats, i suffer out here likewise, although I guess we should actually be thankful we can get online at all.
    Anyway, back to your blog....I have a lot of catching up to do...

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  8. Mary, Your Antarctica trip is SOOOOO very interesting. Thank you so much for going to the trouble to take all of these wonderful photos and then posting them for us to see and read about your experiences. This is so much fun!!!! I love birds so that makes it doubly interesting. Thanks.
    Farm Gal in SW VA

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  9. Rockhopper penguins are one of my favourites.

    Beautiful photos.

    Sft x

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