Monday, March 16, 2009

Bird Island News-February 2009

From South Georgia Newsletter, February 2009

Bird Island News

By Stacey Adlard, Zoological Field Assistant at the British Antarctic Survey Base at Bird Island.

February was a busy month for the wildlife and field assistants on Bird Island as young rapidly grew and Wandering Albatross eggs started to hatch.

After several months of noise, created by the 80,000 Macaroni Penguins breeding at Big Mac, the colony finally emptied and became quiet. Throughout February, the chicks have been moulting their fluffy grey and white down, to reveal the tidy miniature blue-grey penguins underneath. Many birds could be seen supporting a variety of weird and wonderful hairstyles as they moulted. Once moulted, the young birds climbed down the rocks, and jumped into the sea for their first swim. After a few moments of panic, they soon realised they were able to swim and dive and disappeared into the waves. It is a little sad to see them go, and the colonies so empty, but it is good to know they have made it this far and in a couple of weeks the noisy adults will return to the colonies to moult.

Success at last!....The much watched and last remaining King Penguin chick at Penguin River is the first chick hatched there to survive to adulthood. In recent years several eggs have been laid, and chicks hatched, at the nascent colony but the young birds have previously all succumbed to severe weather or predators. As this first successful chick moulted into its adult feathers, several pairs of Kings had laid eggs again.

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