Sunday, January 27, 2008

The Week in Review~~January 27 2007


I'm trying to be a good sport about missing out on the intimate details of little George and Gracie, but I'm not having much luck. I haven't heard from National Geographic, but if I don't, I'll just keep putting my name in front of them. It works with senators and congressmen.

This site would be so great for educational purposes. Kids could learn about penguin biology. Teachers could use their interests in order to generate practice writing papers. And the rest of us could just darn well remember to sign and to support anything that approximates survival for the penguins.

Back to this week's observations, the chicks are up and about. Parents are bringing larger food for them to eat and of course, the month of February will be important for them, as they begin to molt out of their baby down and into adult plumage.

If you watch closely at times, you can see the chicks trying to emulate their parent. The Gentoo near the bottom of the snap is looking at rocks (bet he's a male) and the chick is bent in the same posture. Ya gotta love it. :)

And as Summer progresses, we see the first effects of global warming. The huge tabular iceberg in the back of this snap looks amazingly like the infamous B-15 berg.

And within the next few days, more bergs began to float towards O'Higgins Station: a full procession. I didn't see any of this last year. Al Gore is right... and all those naysayers re: global warming? They're full of it.

Until next time... with hopefully better news,

This week's Pencognito!

New from Jen at

Sunday, January 20, 2008

It's Penguin Awareness Day!!!


Yes, it is Penguin Awareness Day for the entire world... and what should one do on a day such as this? Here are some suggestions:

1. Dress in black and white. People may not think "penguin" but if enough people do it, they might.

2. Visit a penguin website to learn more about the different species, where they live, and whether they build their nests on Antarctica or not.

3. Write a letter to your senator or representative regarding overfishing the seas. The Care2 website is a great place to start, but check out Oceania, Greenpeace, and the World Wildlife Fund. Join one of these great organizations.

4. Adopt a penguin. I've adopted two so far, and I plan to do more. Phillip Island in New Zealand is a great place to adopt a little blue/fairy penguin. WWF? Emperors. Or the Falkland Islands website--several places to do adoptions and your money does a good thing for these birds.

5. Write a story or a report on one of the species of penguin. Even if you've never been to Antarctica or the sub-Antarctic islands, you can stretch you imagination. It's fun.

6. Rent a penguin movie. Happy Feet is showing on HBO at this point. Rent a documentary... there is so much to learn. Invite friends over and have a penguin party.

7. Make a penguin collage from pictures "clipped" from the net. You can proudly display it on your wall so that you will be reminded every day that these birds share this world with you.

8. Learn the names of all 17 species of penguin and where they are located.

9. Make a Penguin Awareness Day card and send it to a friend or loved one.

10. And most importantly, remember that without these birds, our planet would be all the poorer in species diversity and for the loss of beauty and wonder that these birds inspire. (Check out Arkive website for some neat short movies).

Here's hoping that today, and every day, you will remember our southernmost friends.

Best to all,


Saturday, January 19, 2008

The chicks are roaming about!

Can you just imagine? You're a new mom. Maybe you haven't been through this parenthood thing before. But even if you have, even instinct can't prepare you for your wayward chicks. And it's not just one chick, but two!!

Oh no. Not me. Not this penguin. I'm keeping my blonde self away from all of that. Hmm.. perhaps I will be adopted? Yes? No? okay.

Well, the point here is that moms and dads have a hard time from the get-go. First, it's getting them out of the egg. Then there are the terns and those nasty skuas. Nevermind that you, parent-person must stay alive in over to keep the chicks alive. That means watching out for Orcas and Leopard Seals. Euwwww.

Once the chicks reach a few weeks old, they're ready to get around and check things out--like they should be doing that. Of course, they're bigger and that means double duty on the food line because their appetites are bigger.

The following is with the permission of Hedwig Vanhaevre at

Hedwig has the best penguin page out there and I highly recommend visiting it; all of his information is researched by himself and Prof. Culik (Was ist Was : Pinguine" and "Die Welt der Pinguine : Überlebenskünstler in Eis und Meer", both written by Prof. Boris Culik (the second together with Prof. Wilson), who gave Hedwig permission to translate and use it). As you can tell, this information is highly regarded:

What do penguins eat?

Principally they eat fish....

The three smaller species (Pygoscelis : adélie, gentoo and chinstrap penguins) mainly eat krill. Krill is the general term (originally Norwegian language) for several kind of small, plankton-like, lobster-like animals. These krill need phytoplankton as food. Krill is also the most important food-source in Antarctica, as whales and seals also eat it a lot. Krill live in large swarms (from a few m3 till a several km3) with about 1000 animals pro km³, or more than 1000 ton pro swarm.

Sometimes penguins also eat little stones to increase their digestion.

How do penguins digest their food?

Most of the species can take till ¼ of their body-weight in one meal. Their stomach starts direct under their neck and goes far down like a big sac. When you counted in, you know that ¼ is not the same as 1,5 times their weight. Penguins have a very fast digestion and can transform the content of their entire stomach in energy(fat-reserves) in less than 6 hours. For the chicks this would be catastrophic and therefore penguins are also able to stop the digestion and even after three days (adelie penguins) they can bring back fresh food in their crop to feed the chicks. How they manage to process this food to porridge and, despite of a stomach temperature of 39°C, it does not taint, is still unknown.

Many thanks to you Hedwig for allowing me to use your information and teachers-parents, be sure to send every one of your charges to Hedwig's page:

Note the size of these chicks! I have circled the ones that are out and about. How I do wish that I could see Fred and Ginger, but perhaps, in a few years, when they are old enough and they return here, I will see them again.

And that's it for this time. I'll be posting as news becomes available.

Sending best wishes to all~~~wiinterrr

New Pencognito from Jen (at





Sunday, January 13, 2008

This past week--sigh...

The final image from NestCam, as the storm raged on, as the terrible storm with sustained winds at 50+knots continued for over 2 days.

Dear Readers and fans of all things penguin,

I admit to feeling sad this week; in fact, a part of me is grieving because now I will no longer watch Fred and Ginger interact with their parents and the rest of the world. Now, I'm glad I made so many "grabs." There are a few that I will frame and place on my wall of penguin fame.

But there is a part of me--that hopeless (?) optimist that says if there is a way, I will do all I can to make it happen. I write about National Geographic sponsoring our penguin rookery. NG has done so much for other places and their name alone stands for truth and class in presentation. Regardless whether they are interested or not, I have respected NG from childhood. It is the only magazine that I take time to read. So, please, write to NG and ask them to sponsor our penguin site. Tell your friends to do the same. As an animal activist, I know that perseverance pays and need presages acquisition.
Now, for a few pictures of the past week: a look at Fred and Ginger and Romeo and Juliet.

Peeking out

The broken cable

New Pencognito from Jen at





Wednesday, January 9, 2008

The Worst News

Hello to Everyone,

It is with a heavy heart that I bring to you the news regarding our beloved webcams. Cables to the two most necessary cams on the post have been harmed due to the storm that has lasted these past two days. As you probably have noticed, sustained winds were around 50 knots. I suppose that this simply reinforces the knowledge that Antarctica is a harsh mistress to its inhabitants. Still, it is hard news to take, especially since our little guys, whose names were finally decided unanimously by all who voted: Fred and Ginger.

The station is unmanned and has been since December 8th of last year--there simply is no one there to fix anything. With this in mind and a promise I made to Mr. Grund, whose benevolence gave us the opportunity to view these beautiful birds, I have written to National Geographic for help. If you wish to help this cause--please write to NG and support this cause. A short email is all that is necessary. Please help keep these cams maintained so that the vision of Gentoo penguins will remain before the eyes of their admirers and in the hearts of those wishing to preserve their environment.

Thank you,
Lin aka wiinterrr, the sad blonde adelie

Penguin Cams In Antarctica

Greetings National Geographic,

I am a lifelong fan of all things NG. Your Wildlife Cams have made such a difference, not only in my life, but those I come in contact with every day. In fact, when I read that subscribing to the magazine helped sponsor such links as Pete's Pond, I immediately re-subscribed.

I have a penguin webcam-blog online that many people have become interested in and who watch and write to me regarding the activities on the monitors. In fact, today I was going to post regarding penguin biology and how the birds feed and feed their young. I had obtained permission last night only to rise today and see that the two most important cams at the site are down for the year due to a storm last night whose sustained winds were over 50 knots.

Martin Grund at the German station, Gars O'Higgins on the Antarctic Peninsula, gave me permission to use his cams on my blog--he is just that nice of a person. However, as he and his comrades were there doing weather related research, they did not have the time nor the propensity to take care of the cameras. I did tell him that I was going to try to find a means to support and/or sponsor the cams so that he and his fellow scientists would not have to be responsible for them. I immediately thought of you and I believed I had time to contact you after the holidays before the late summer storms arrived. Alas, I was not so fortunate.

In a time when global warming is obvious and primary to our own survival, these birds--these beautiful Gentoo penguins--are the barometers for a future we will soon confront. By placing them before the eyes of the world, more people will become convinced that we must save these birds first. By watching these penguins go through the process of selecting mates, breeding, hatching and brooding their young, people will see that these are remarkable creatures who must remain as co-inhabitants of the earth. I want these birds to have a chance to survive and to continue to come to Gars O'Higgins throughout the coming centuries--far beyond the span of our own lives. Imagine the research opportunities that a site hosted by NG would mean to worldwide educational systems.

I am providing contact links to the Gars O'Higgins website, Martin Grund, in addition to my own. I ask that you consider sponsoring this worthy cam-site and bring the reality of Antarctica into the lives of people all over the world.

Thank you for your time and consideration,

Lin Kerns

Saturday, January 5, 2008

Sweet New Faces

What a week it's been for us penguininos. Our Juliet and Romeo have been the perfect pair of parents. Dividing their time between getting food for the chicks and feeding them, the parents have been equally protective. Notice Juliet here as she sees an approaching petrel.

Parents pose as they brood their chicks in a nearly ecstatic position, with their backs to the wind.

Here, Juliet and our Romeo, sit in silent reflection. They are so very beautiful.

The next three pix are snaps caught by our friend, Ed, over at Nature Cams. The chicks show a natural curiosity and of course, they make little chick noises to let their parent know that they are hungry.

The chicks are already beginning to fill out. It won't be long until they will not "fit" beneath mom or dad.

One chick is definitely awake and calling.

Nicely fluffed, the chicks find more warmth beneath the parent's belly.

And this one, was a lucky grab for me. This is Romeo feeding one of his charges.

This last one is also from Ed. I can't imagine a better way to end this blog update than looking upon the sweet face of a penguin chick.

New Pencognito from Jen at





Tuesday, January 1, 2008

We have CHICKS!

After forever, it seems, the eggs beneath our fair Juliet (yes, that's what JC stands for) have hatched. I think I took 50 snaps of Romeo hovering over her, as if that would expedite matters. Talk about impatience! And here I thought I was the one. :)

Our parent's neighbor showed off her newly hatched chicks. Can you imagine seeing others' chicks before your own?

But it wasn't long before the chicks were out. What a sigh of relief! Two new Gentoo penguins for our sweet pair.

At first, JC was mysterious. The eggs were being cracked beneath her, but this shot was the first evidence that hatching was imminent.

Here, is a proud parent, almost in the penguin ecstasy pose, showing off her offspring. And if you look closely enough, you'll see two sets of tail feathers beneath.

Zoom shots are very useful. If you are using Firefox as a browser, go to their add-on page and get FoxZoom. It's very helpful for on the spot close-ups.

This is a great zoom shot--and look at the size of those little guys already. Egg shells are strewn about them.

Another proud parent pose.

Now that is the perfect shot of a happy penguin. Notice the flaring of the feathers.... those little guys won't be cold at all.

Stay with us.... more pix will be coming. :)