Sunday, 28 February 2010

We're Here For The Chicks

It's my favourite time of year to visit a Gentoo penguin colony.  It's because of the chicks. They are hilarious.  They are in mid-moult, off the nest and very  inquisitive about their world.  They hang about in protective groups called creches waiting for one of their parents to return to feed them. Meanwhile they interact with one another. They play in melt water pools. They chase one another about. Sometimes, in a spasm of energy, they will stand and flap their wings furiously and then run around in excited circles  (LOL!).  They will sometimes watch snowflakes fall and then catch them (quite amusing to watch). And the best thing of all, during this brief moment in their lives they will very often interact with us.  Stand quietly and you might have a penguin pecking your boot.  Sit quietly and they might peck at your glove or finger.  I have seen them climb into someone's lap and then fall asleep. 

It was a perfect day to visit Cuverville Island, the site of the largest Gentoo penguin colony in the Peninsula region.  Over 5,000 pairs. We had cloudy skies with brilliant periods of sunshine.  It was also an opportunity to go for an Antarctic dip!

In the afternoon we turned our bow to Wilhelmina Bay. My nephews tell me that the word "awesome" is out and the word "epic" is in. Today Wilhelmina was epic in every way.  We saw at least a dozen Humpback whales.  We saw several Minke whales. Antarctic Fur Seals lolled about in the water and lounged on icebergs.
It was nigh on to impossible to take a poor photograph.  Trip with your camera and you would come up with a great shot.  Everyone was out on deck taking it all in, trying to preserve this postcard of a day forever in their memory.