Posts Tagged ‘chicks’

A Bit of Penguin Bathroom Humor

February 17th, 2010 at 3:04 pm (AST) by Jake Richter

Okay, so it’s actually not humor, but instead a fact of life. Penguins eat. Penguins digest. Penguins poop.

Penguin poop is called guano, just like the poop of other birds, and because penguins nest in large groups known as colonies, their guano tends to be rather concentrated in those areas. It is also quite smelly, with a strong, earthy barnyard sort of odor. But you get used to it after a while. Really. Just don’t get it on your clothes.

Gentoo penguin chicks on guano-stained rocks with a glacier in the background

Gentoo penguin chicks on guano-stained rocks with a glacier in the background

One of the major staples of penguin diet in the Antarctic is krill, a creature which looks like a shrimp but is in a different family. Krill, in addition to feeding whales and seals, is also quite pink, which results in some penguin guano being pink too, as can be seen in the above picture.

Green-colored penguin guano is a sign that a penguin is molting (and thus staying out of the ocean and not feeding on krill).

One of the more interesting aspects of how penguins defecate is that it is a fast, quick, wet stream of gooey guano. In an area not already heavy with guano, this style of pooping results in long narrow streaks of guano decorating the ground as seen in the photo below:

These white streaks are penguin guano - in other words, penguin poop

These white streaks are penguin guano - in other words, penguin poop

And, to make the whole penguin poop story complete, below is a short video clip of how this all works.

 

A Few More Penguins From Red Rocks Ridge, Antarctica

February 16th, 2010 at 8:27 am (AST) by Jake Richter

A few more penguin pictures to share – they are just such beautiful (and cute) creatures.

An adult Adelie penguin

An adult Adelie penguin

The same Adelie adult with wings srpread out while waddling along

The same Adelie adult with wings srpread out while waddling along

An Adelie penguin giving me the 'eye'

An Adelie penguin giving me the 'eye'

The Bas and Krystyana penguins with their buddies

The Bas and Krystyana penguins with their buddies

Another adult Adelie penguin view

Another adult Adelie penguin view

Nesting Adelie penguins have great views of the glaciers

Nesting Adelie penguins have great views of the glaciers

 

How About an Antarctic Blue-Eyed Shag?

February 15th, 2010 at 5:07 pm (AST) by Jake Richter

Get your mind out of the gutter if that’s where it was. I’m talking about avians here.

The other type of bird at Red Rocks Ridge was the Antarctic blue-eyed shag, a member of the cormorant family. Some of the shag nests I saw were in amongst the Adélie penguin nests.

An adult Antarctic blue-eyed shag

An adult Antarctic blue-eyed shag

Antarctic blue-eyed shag chicks in a nest

 

Adélie Penguins and Their Chicks

February 15th, 2010 at 4:48 pm (AST) by Jake Richter

It is the latter part of summer in the Antarctic now, and that means that penguin chicks are getting to be old enough to head off on their own soon. At Red Rocks Ridge we found a wide range of chick ages, determined by the amount of down the chicks still had on them.

With Adélie penguins, you can tell the different between adults and larger chicks by whether they have black under the chin or white. Fully black chins are adults or nearly so, while white chins indicate youth.

Below are a number of pictures of Adélie chicks in various states of molting.

A juvenile Adelie penguin nearing the end of its molting

A juvenile Adelie penguin nearing the end of its molting

A group of juvenile Adelie penguins

A group of Adelie penguins

Two juvenile Adelies in different stages of losing their baby fuzz

Two juvenile Adelies in different stages of losing their baby fuzz

Close-up of a juvenile Adelie penguin

Close-up of a juvenile Adelie penguin

Juvenile Adelies are not very clean - just like juvenile human boys, and likewise gawky

Juvenile Adelies are not very clean - just like juvenile human boys, and likewise gawky

Elvis has entered the colony

Elvis has entered the colony

An Adelie adult and a chick have an argument, while another chick looks on

An Adelie adult and a chick have an argument, while another chick looks on

 

We Make Landfall on the Antarctic Continent

February 15th, 2010 at 2:54 pm (AST) by Jake Richter

Yesterday morning, we woke around 8am to find ourselves surrounded by ice bergs in the northern part of Marguerite Bay, just south of Adelaide island. We could make out brown bits of land in the distance in addition to ice bergs and figured landfall was not far off.

An iceberg in the fog

An iceberg in the fog

However, minutes later we were in the midst of very dense fog, which did not let up for hours. An attempt was made to find us a landing site with wildlife nonetheless, but it was not successful.

The fog made it difficult for the Zodiacs to scout a landing site

The fog made it difficult for the Zodiacs to scout a landing site

Radar shows where there are obstacles

Radar shows where there are obstacles

The captain of the National Geographic Explorer opted to move the ship to a new location to try again, and another scouting party was sent out. Finally word came back that we would be able to go for an afternoon landing at Red Rocks Ridge, where there was a large colony of Adélie penguins. However, because of the fog, there would be no Zodiac tours while others were on shore, and instead half the passengers would go ashore at 1:30pm for two hours, and then the other half would go at 3:30pm so that the 100 person on shore limit could be properly enforced but still allow all to spend ample time exploring.

The plan for the afternoon once a landing site was confirmed

The plan for the afternoon once a landing site was confirmed

Everyone on board had all been previously distributed into a total of six groups, and we are in Group 1. Groups 1, 2, and 3 were the first shift, and Groups 4, 5, and 6 the second.

A Zodiac leaves the National Geographic Explorer en route to Red Rocks Ridge

A Zodiac leaves the National Geographic Explorer en route to Red Rocks Ridge

The ride was a bit cold, but we were thrilled to able to finally set foot on the Antarctic continent, and better yet, get a better understanding of how penguins lived on land.

Bas and our friends Natalie and Bruce on the Zodiac to the landing site

Bas and our friends Natalie and Bruce on the Zodiac to the landing site

Some of the expedition members who landed ahead of us - the black specks on the snow are penguins

Some of the expedition members who landed ahead of us - the black specks on the snow are penguins

We spent the next two hours observing the rules of conduct as well as hundreds of penguins, a fair number of Antarctic blue-eyed shags (in the cormorant family) as well as several territorial skuas.

The penguins ignore all the paparazzi photographers

The penguins ignore all the paparazzi photographers

Bas studies a juvenile Adelie penguin

Bas studies a juvenile Adelie penguin

I will post several separate blog posts after this one with photos of particular encounters at Red Rocks Ridge in order to split things up a bit, as there are a lot of pictures to share.