Monday, 26 January 2015

Gentoo Penguins

Two species of Penguins breed on Bird Island, Gentoo and Macaroni. We are lucky to have a Gentoo colony only a few minutes walk from the base, so it’s easy to pop over and take a few photos when there is some spare time.

Gentoo adult with its chick

Gentoo adults incubate for around 38 days, with the chicks brooded tightly for around 10 days. After about a month the chicks start crèching while both adults forage. After 100 days the chicks fledge having moulted their fluffy down, and look more like the adults but having a blue/grey back/flippers/head rather than a brown/black of worn adult feathers.

Adults and chicks in the colony

Gentoo’s can start breeding at 2 years old, with most birds breeding by 2-3 years.

A big chick and a smaller chick

Breeding success can vary massively depending on food availability. In a year where there is little krill available there can be a complete failure to breed successfully, with no chicks surviving to fledging. In better years you can get an average of just over 1 chick fledging per pair. This year looks good so far, with high numbers breeding, and lots of healthy looking chicks running around.

Gentoo chicks chase the parent for food making sure that the strongest chick is fed

Sunday, 11 January 2015

Wandering Albatross

One of the most impressive birds on Bird Island has to be the Wandering Albatross. They are, when you get up close, just massive! Despite this huge size they are incredibly graceful birds, in the air at least.

An inquisitive adult

I takes almost 12 months for the eggs to hatch, chicks to grow, and then eventually fledge. This chick was still around on the meadows while adults have been courting, renewing their pair bonds, and displaying ready to breed.

Sitting up in the ‘meadows’ this juvenile Wanderer was rather curious of the reflection in my lens

A pair bonding

Male Wandering Albatross displaying all of its 3.5m wingspan to a female

The birds waddle around, making an incredible variety of calls, clapping their beaks, bowing their heads, sky pointing, and spreading their magnificent wings.

Displaying within sight of the base


Every nest here is individually marked, the identity of both adults recorded, and the success or failure of breeding monitored. In one area of the island the eggs are measured and weighed to give an indication of health and fitness of the female.

Me measuring a Wanderer egg, photo by Jerry Gillham