Sunday, December 30, 2007

New Pencognito





Be sure to say "hi" to Jen at


Saturday, December 29, 2007


What a wait it's been, but it's finally here. Today, for the first time this year, newly hatched chicks were popping up and out all around the rookery. Take a look....

JC's neighbor flaunted her chick while RM took a good look at his own nest and JC.

Then... on the other side of our waiting parents, there was a chick. The first one, demanding his or her dinner.

But then, up from the nest a parent rises and there it is. The hole where the egg tooth protrudes ever so slightly. Our chicks are on the way.

Within the next 24 hours, there should be hatching en masse... not to be missed. And our good parents to be should be showing them off.

More tomorrow, as the day unfolds.

Tuesday, December 25, 2007

Monday, December 24, 2007

New Pencognito---read while we wait. :)

Latest Pencognito!!

Sunday, December 23, 2007

Sunday, December 23rd, 2007

Christmas Eve approaches and the eggs should begin to hatch around that date!

What an exciting week it has been! The sea ice is melting under the Summer Solstice sun (Io Saturnalia!) and the Gentoos seem to getting nicely round in form. Idyllic scenes have been the norm, what with parents swapping nest duty; also, the scavenger birds, so far, are staying away.

But what else has been happening? This picture says it all. Two days ago, we had some premature excitement: the eggs began to move and parents were constantly inspecting the shells for cracks and the appearance of an egg tooth.

Notice the peeking and inspecting. All eyes are on those eggs.

Every grab I made of the community at large showed, at least, one of the birds checking the nest.

This one is so sweet. It's like Mom or Dad are asking their new chicks, "Are we there yet?"

That is a very concerned look for a parent-to-be and one that caused myself to also be alert.

So funny! A parent stands and shows off the "pantaloon" look. Also, two days ago, there was a "heat wave" on the Antarctic peninsula: 34 degrees F., and all the natives were restless.

And as for South Georgia Island, the seals were the highlight of the week past.

Tuesday, December 18, 2007

Finally, after too much ado

I suppose that I could bore everyone with why I have been so tardy updating this blog, but I'd rather just get right to the news at hand. At least I can say that I won't be busy next week and, given a window of, say, three days before or three days after... the target date is Christmas Eve.

That's right... hatching will commence in earnest next week and when it starts, the entire colony will no longer be the sleepy bunch they have been.

For weeks now, this has been the typical picture: the changing of the sitter of the nest. By the look of those faces, some are eager to go, and I'm sure, hungry.

JC had been a bit dodgy about showing her eggs, but we did manage a peek or two.

Moving fast, as it is cold out there... JC takes a quick peek.

While others took a peek, we did the same.

Weatherwise--lots of fog... the kind that walks before the camera and blocks it and some snow. After all that cloud cover... there was a great deal of ice out there.

But one night did not get so cold and the next morning, the ice began to melt very fast.

That morning, JC was awakened by a rare bright sunrise over Antarctica.

That day showed a bit more than the norm activity in the rookery. JC stayed alert.

Of course, look at JC's pantaloons. The feathers are plucked in order for the eggs to lay directly on the parent's warm belly. RM called to the little guys, but he'll have to wait a bit longer.

JC stretched and allowed some heat to dissapate from the egg... something she couldn't do when the temp was below freezing. The high this day was a balmy 38F.

From my good friend, Ed, over at Nature Commentator and who has an eye for anything Natural History, is this wonderfully clean shot of JC and both eggs.

Ed was also responsible for making the video at the beginning of this blog

Thanks Ed for being such a grand contributor to these pages!


Over at South Georgia Island, Seals and Kings were on the beach.

Sunday, December 2, 2007

The Week in Review~~December 2nd, 2007

Even as we eagerly await the hatching of the eggs, we realize that this is the hard part... the wait. The weather has not been too terribly bad, but today, the snow fell again.

Also noticed that JC is a bit spent after the second egg, which was laid during the week. Unfortunately, I had to be at school and homework took my attention, so until she moved on the nest yesterday, I wasn't sure that there was a second one.

How do I tell JC and RM apart? JC has an old wound on the flipper on her left side. And by that, I have noticed her persistence in sitting on the nest.

Our friends at O'Higgins Station were busy this week, moving snow in order to see or install instruments that are necessary for their research. Just wanted to send a friendly wave and to thank them again for braving the cold in order that we can follow the Gentoos.

Of course, JC takes the loveliest of pictures and she is ever alert for any
aspect of danger.

Notice the freeloader who would love to take one of her eggs. Not for sure, but it looks like a tern. Regardless, JC did not approve of its proximity.

However, rest assured, we have a second egg. Woo-hoo!

Nothing much going on at King Edwards Point on South Georgia Island... merely a few seals sunning near the bay.

Stay tuned, penguininos... more later.


Sunday, November 25, 2007

WE have an EGG!

Today has been a fairly routine one for JC. This morning, she watched as her mate left for his daily feed in the sea, but this afternoon/evening, she seemed to be more at ease.

One thing was sure--she made the most precious photos....

This one especially--it could not have been better if she had tried to pose.

AND then.... at around 11:45PM, penguin time, behold.... an egg. There it is. Excited? Me, too. If the egg (s) are viable, Christmas Eve or Christmas Day, expect to see some new faces. For penguin lovers, it is our best present ever: new life.

Gentoo Penguin Facts (time to learn)

During the day, half of the Gentoo pairs leave for feeding. In the meantime, the other partner keeps the nest warm, or the eggs, as the case may be. Hopefully we will see our RM and JC with eggs soon.

But what do we know about these magnificent birds? I found a marvelous no-nonsense site that delivers on the information re: penguins, and many other animals who make the oceans their home. It is and their work has far reaching positive effects for marine and terrestrial life.


Gentoo Penguin - Pygoscelis papuaPygoscelis papua
Gentoo Penguin

Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Chordata
Class: Aves
Order: Ciconiiformes
Family: Spheniscidae
Genus: Pygoscelis
species: Pygoscelis papua
Full Taxonomy (ITIS)

Gentoo Penguin Photo Gallery

Description & Behavior
The gentoo penguin, Pygoscelis papua (Forster, 1781), is another Antarctic penguin species first described by Johann Reinhold Forster, an explorer and naturalist who accompanied Captain Cook on his late 18th century voyages. Gentoo penguins are small birds standing about 80 cm tall and weighing an average of 5 kg. They have black plumage on the back and head with a white band that runs across the crown of the head from eye to eye. They have a bright orange bill and orange feet.

The gentoo is the fastest swimming of all penguin species reaching speeds of up to 36 kph as well as one of the rarest.

World Range & Habitat
Gentoo penguin, Pygoscelis papua, breeding sites are found on sandy or stony beaches on the Antarctic peninsula and around the Crozet, Falkland, Macquarie, Prince Edward, South Georgia, South Orkney and South Sandwich islands.

Although gentoos return to the same breeding area each year, they tend to move their sites away from previous sites because of the guano (collected droppings of seabirds) that accumulates during the breeding season. Some colonies have been observed returning to the same site year after year only to suddenly move to an entirely new site several kilometers away. The reason for these moves is unknown. Colonies are typically small, consisting of a few 100 breeding pairs and breaking into subcolonies when colonies become too large.

» GBIF occurrence data in Google Earth [Requirements | Tips]
» Ocean Biogeographic Information System (OBIS) [World Map] | OBIS-SEAMAP | [about]

Feeding Behavior (Ecology)
Gentoo penguins, Pygoscelis papua, forage close to shore, diving to average depths between 20-100 m, although in some cases they have been recorded diving to 200 m. A gentoo will dive up to 450 times per day to forage. They feed on small fish, crustaceans and squid.
Skua gulls
On land, they have no predators, but skuas (pictured above), gulls and other sea birds will prey on unattended eggs and small chicks.

Life History
Gentoo penguins, Pygoscelis papua, breed in rookeries or colonies and make nests from a variety of materials including feathers, grass, rocks and twigs. Females lay 2 eggs in late October that are incubated by both parents for about 1 month. Although eggs are laid as much as 4 days apart, they hatch within 24 hours of each other. Both parents brood the 2 chicks, alternating daily to feed and protect them. The chicks remain in the nest until they have their adult plumage when they are between 3-4 weeks of age. Adults alternate foraging daily, typically traveling within 20 km of the breeding site. As the chicks grow, they form large crèches (chicks are left in groups while both parents forage). Although chicks fledge around 3 months of age, the parents continue to feed them for several weeks. Following breeding season, gentoos return to the open ocean to forage prior to their annual molting season, which lasts for 2-3 weeks.

Because of shortages in gentoo penguin prey around the Falkland Islands, thousands of birds have died of starvation during their annual molting season. Diminished prey availability is likely due to overfishing, however the government of the Falkland Islands has thus far been unwilling to implement fishing bans near gentoo penguin habitat so the future of gentoos in that area is uncertain.

Gentoo penguins, Pygoscelis papua, are listed as Near Threatened (NT) on the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species:

A taxon is Near Threatened when it has been evaluated against the criteria but does not qualify for Critically Endangered, Endangered or Vulnerable now, but is close to qualifying for or is likely to qualify for a threatened category in the near future.

Further Research