Tuesday, February 19, 2013

In the company of Kings...............

A royal occasion!
The second largest of all penguins, the King penguin is a striking bird, with bright orange flashes around its head and beak, it truly deserves its regal name. 

These pics were all taken on the Salisbury Plain morning shore excursion. Thousands and thousands of adults and juveniles stretched across the plain behind the beach. Click on pics to enlarge.



..........and yes, they are! We thought breeding season 
was over. Guess not!


........and thousands more!
It's King penguin time - a wildlife bonanza!

They are an abundant species with an estimated 2 million breeding pairs, and thought to be increasing. 25% of the world population of King penguins make their home on South Georgia Island.

 M/V Expedition at anchor in the Bay of Isles

Here at Salisbury Plain the Kings have their second largest colony of 60,000 breeding pairs..........and the numbers were even larger due to the addition of what appeared to be thousands of new chicks 2-3 months of age.

Have to tell you that this many penguins creates a lot of mucky mud and, mixed with tons of guano, walking requires those great Wellington boots to squelch about in and protect one's feet. As for the strong odor, nothing much prevents that (although in hindsight a little Vicks Vaporub under the nose might have helped), but one gets used to it and wouldn't pass up the opportunity to stand among thousands of penguins, seals, seabirds etc. just because it's smelly!

When a King penguin has a 'pancake' such as these above, they are 
incubating an egg.........

..............and later, when hatched and a couple of months old, there will be one of these brown and fluffy chicks looking for attention. 

Penguins as far as the eye could see.............on the 
hillsides of Salisbury Plain........

........gathering for a meeting in the
pools formed from snow and ice melt below the mountains.

Chicks hanging out with already moulting juveniles.

This is Summertime in Antarctica and the temperature reached 
41F that morning which was cool but not cold.
Time for checking the mirror......... 

.....grooming those beautiful waterproof feathers......

.....perhaps contemplating a pedicure.....

.......because "my feet are killing me".

"Perhaps I should stay in the grassy areas".

A magical morning on South Georgia....penguins, elephant seals, fur seals, icebergs and more.......

....then back to the ship and heading for a warm and sunny afternoon at our next anchorage at Prion Island.


  1. Oh my goodness! It looks just like the movie! You lucky girl.

  2. Amazing photos. It was great to see the little ones and the molting too.

  3. Seeing the thousands of penguins...what an amazing sight!


  4. Hadn't thought of the smell, just the noise. What an experience. I felt like I was looking at Art Wolfe's photos. How wonderful to have an experience like this.

  5. Fabulous photos - I think I could almost smell the atmosphere as I was perusing the photos.
    Have just seen two new nature programmes about penguins on the TV. Apparently when the female is away for weeks leaving the male to incubate the egg, the store of fish in the males stomach to feed the new chick is kept fresh by means of a natural antibiotic. I didn't know this before.
    The juveniles are amusing showing their adult colours whilst still retaining some of their fluff.

  6. Oh my gosh! How awesome, I am so grateful that you are taking us along on your wonderful adventure. Such beautiful photos you took! those babies are huge :) , and I love the antics that you captured as well. What a spectacular trip that must have been.

  7. Hello Mary:
    What an amazing sight and how wonderful to have experienced all of these King Penguins at first hand. Given the chance, the muck underfoot and the smell really cannot, as you say, have mattered.

  8. Mary, I have been enjoying seeing all these wonderful places with you, usually viewing on my ipad which for some reason won't let me leave a comment? The same thing happens when I look at Blondie's Journal, too.
    Never the less, your photographs are stunning and I love the commentary.
    A penguin pedicure, that image will stay with me all day!

  9. What a shot of them molting....not sure I would be comfortable in the mist of all of them but one at a time...beautiful.

  10. I simply love penguins. How wondrous this must have been for you!

    And Scout is definitely impressed by those toenails!


  11. Hi Mary, these are fabulous photos. What an amazing trip you must have had.

  12. So special! To see the penguins in such huge numbers right into the distance looks incredible Mary. They have the most gorgeous colouring, that pure black head, sunset cravat and silver cape have always captivated me.

  13. I was watching a program about the King penguins of Sailsbury Plain only last night - I was sure you would have been there too! It was saying how much and other creatures they depend upon the Krill for food, especially during the breeding season. There are now a small number of factory fishing boats catching thousands of tons of it for pet food for up to ten months a year, farmed salmon and the human health food markets. The UK chef Hugh Fernley-Whittingstall is trying to get the UK governments to make larger portions of the British waters surrounding these areas into Marine Reserves to safeguard the delicate balance of the wildlife.

    Rose H


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