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


Saturday, November 24, 2007

Weekly Observation

Due to the holiday and a mad, last minute attempt to stay up on homework, I've been absent from meh own blog. However, I have been taking snaps of those beautiful Gentoos. And so, here they are--a week in review:

The week began with penguins taking turns to go feed in the sea and fresh snow fell, making the scenery very lovely.
Although the sun was obscured, there was enough daylight left to see "community events."

What was so endearing about the snow, was RM's covering JC's body in order to share the warmth on the nest. They stayed huddled together for quite a long time that night.

But JC kept giving herself away... she knew that egg laying time was fast approaching and she didn't want to miss it.

So she constantly checked the nest.

And she checked....

And she checked....

And she checked.

One more time, just to be sure...

But it appeared to be a natural action, as the entire group began to check the ground for eggs.

Meanwhile, At King Edward's Point on South Georgia Island, some fur seals decided the shoreline suited them.

And so did an elephant seal...

No King penguins this week, but there was one lone Gentoo, accompanied by a seal and another bird (hmm... I think it's a tern).

And unless JC lays her eggs tonight, the week will end and our pengies will be hugging and peering into the nest, waiting, as we are so far away.

It's Pengcognito Saturday!!! :P

From our good African friends at Pencognito:

Thursday, November 22, 2007

Happy T-Day!!!!

Photo Sharing and Video Hosting at Photobucket

Sunday, November 18, 2007

Today~~November 18, 2007

It's been a rather normal day at O'Higgins--much better than yesterday's snow. The penguins roosted on their nests for the majority of the day and not many Gentoos left to feed.

However, today was gorgeous. The sea had a higher viscosity than the day before and the waves rippled as if made from something alive, heart beating as one with the breeze.

The penguins who had established mates began to take turns going out to sea to feed. The female, JC, likes her nest, but from time to time, she'll stand up and sleep. Given that JC and RM managed a fertile pair of eggs, hatching should take place in about 63 days., which is around January 15, 2008. This worries me, as this is much later than last year.

Chicks must be hatched, reared and molted before the sea begins to freeze again or they'll lose their chance to escape to the sea for winter. We'll wait and see how it all turns out. Stay tuned.

I see that the Gentoos are still mating. If you look below the stack of bricks, you'll see them.

Typical day for RM and JC. Taking turns now to feed, while the other holds the nesting site. I believe that RM is on the right, but I won't know for sure until the eggs are laid.

A very loud and stage hog Gentoo!

And finally, On South Georgia Island, the Kings have arrived. Also note the elephant seal lazing among the penguins. Very cool.

More Tuesday... Monday is school day.

Be well, all,

Saturday, November 17, 2007

November 13, 2007 ~~ Mating Occurs

This week's Pencognito!

This Week’s PENCOGNITO!!!!!!! Yay!

(Visit Jen's website: she has all the back issues there of our African Friends).

Monday, November 12, 2007

A HUGE thank you and HUGS to our Heroes at Gars O'Higgins Station

From the bottom of all our , thank you for braving the cold and installing those cams again.

You are, indeed, our heroes.

Wiinterrr, le blonde adelie (aka Lin)

PS. I'm still working on funding for you guys. I won't give up-born stubborn. lol

Monday, November 5, 2007

NEW! Cams are up and running

Last year....

I was sitting at home with a worn out computer, sick, unable to do much more than not move. I stumbled across this website and then I went back and again and again, until I was hooked.

I watched the Gentoo rookery until it was an obsession--this year is no different. However, the close-up shots will not occur unless we can find some sort of funding to pay for cables and equipment that was destroyed this past spring during one of Antarctica's violent storms.

My German heroes, bless them, have added the cams where they can, just so that we are able to see penguins. These guys work very hard at what they do and in what little spare time they have, they have managed to get these few extra cams going. Now that is true international diplomacy--selflessness at its best.

So, here's what I'm going to do and if you wish to help, then come on. I am going to petition Senator Al Gore for help, but it will not stop there. I will also contact various universities and their biology/ecology departments.
Grants are given away on a daily basis for such things as penguin research. Think of who you can contact, as well.

Penguins are our environment's barometers. If you care about the future of this planet, you will save the penguins. I need no encouragement to do so, as I have developed a love and respect for these animals beyond all my expectations--and I once was a herpetologist. My, how life changes. :) If you believe that these birds are a necessary element to our planet--if you believe that global warming will imminently cause harm to ourselves, not to mention thousands of other species with which we share this planet--if you want to see and study these birds for your own personal knowledge, then get busy. Talk to people, call those who can make a difference, and get the word out. Let's show the world that penguin research is vastly important.

But first, let's thank these guys at the station for the time they have taken in setting up these cams for us and count our blessings that their generosity makes our viewing of that frozen expanse possible. Danke! Danke! Danke! Here's a huge earth hug from your grateful viewers .................................................................................................................................................

Now, it's off to school. And a happy birthday to me. I got penguins for a present--loads of them!!!!! :)



Saturday, November 3, 2007

Hey Guys!!!

My German heroes!!!

Please let us know when you are going to get the rest of the cams going... I understand that where you are is not like having a shopping mall around the corner for spare parts, but just an estimate as to when we need to begin paying better attention.


One sad blonde Adelie


Thursday, November 1, 2007


So, I get excited... but after a late start and most of the cams still out of action, and even a week spent with California wildfires... today -I- saw -penguins! Movement... probably about 20. More to come... many more. And the little guys are down in the snow, stealing rocks from each other. If you look at the live cam, you'll see some black figures moving their furniture. Hard to know if they're penguins, but yes, they really, really are.

Get with it German guys--get those cams fixed and ready to go!!!

Live Cams will be added as they go online. Look to the right. Refresh your browser. And GO!