Friday, October 8, 2010

Image of the Day

Breeding Penguins

Falkland post issued a set of stamps featuring the breeding penguins of the Falkland Islands. Penguins are generally regarded as being synonymous with the Falkland Islands and attract a great number of tourists each year to shores.

King Penguin Aptenodytes patagonicus

The King Penguin is the largest of the breeding penguins in the Islands. They are majestic birds and stand at an incredible 36 – 38 inches (91 – 96cm) tall. Although resident in the Islands, the King Penguin is not found in large numbers. Adults generally raise two chicks every three years. Full grown juveniles appear larger than adults and look like dark brown teddy bears, but once the down has moulted the penguin takes on a beautiful colour of black and white with a particularly striking orange/yellow band at the front of the neck and towards the sides on the back of its head.

Macaroni Penguin Eudyptes chrysolophus

The Macaroni penguin, similar to the Rockhopper, spends much of its time ashore nesting with Rockhoppers on the tops of cliffs. Bigger than the Rockhopper, it is identified by the distinctive golden orange head plumes which spread out and back from the forehead. Although similar, the Macaroni is slightly larger than the Rockhopper and stands between 27 – 30 inches (69 – 71 cms) in height. The Macaroni is the rarest breeding Falklands penguin and only very small numbers tend to breed alongside Rockhoppers at some sites.

Rockhopper Penguin Eudyptes chrysocome

The Rockhopper is the smallest and probably most agile of the penguins found in the Islands with a height of some 24 – 25 inches (61- 64 cms). It is recognised by the straight thin yellow eyebrows ending in tufts or plumes at the sides and top of the head. Rockhoppers are aptly named as they climb steep rock faces and slopes by bounding with both feet together in a characteristic “hop”. Rockhoppers spend the winter months at sea and return in September each year to breed in densely packed colonies quite often associating with Imperial Cormorants, known locally as Shags. Come April and once moulted, the Rockhoppers descend the cliffs back to the sea to spend the winter foraging for food.

The Albino Rockhopper Penguin

The Albino Rockhopper penguin is very rare and only very few are ever seen. The penguin shown here is probably also known as a “leucistic” penguin as it is not a true albino but does have some other colour. Albino penguins have been born in captivity although not very often. It is believed that the albino mutation interferes with the production of melanin so no black pigment is produced. The albino penguin is not thought to be affected physically, just looking lighter than the others and can forage and feed her chicks just as well as the rest of the penguins.

Magellanic Penguin Spheniscus magellanicus

The Magellanic Penguin or perhaps better known locally as the “Jackass” derived from its mournful braying call. Standing about 2 inches shorter than the Gentoo Penguin, the Jackass burrows in ground on sea coasts particularly near or under Tussac bogs or Stands where the burrows can be up to 6 ft deep. Adults have conspicuous black and white bands on their head, neck and breast and sport a stout black and grey bill and pink skin around the eyes. Adults breed from early September, normally laying two eggs in mid October. The young fledge in March and the colonies are generally deserted by late April. The Jackass appears to be shyer than the other penguin species and once disturbed in its burrow, it shakes it head menacingly from side to side.

Gentoo Penguin Pygoscelis papua

The Gentoo Penguin is perhaps the most well known of the species in the Islands and indeed the largest common Falklands penguin. It is second in size to the King Penguin standing at about 30 inches (76cm) tall and unmistakable with a white bar over the crown and a long orange and black bill. They nest on level ground in groups and generally about a mile inland from the shore. Nests are made from Diddle Dee (a native low woody type shrub) and other grasses torn from the ground along with stones. A noisy creature when approached as the adults trumpet loudly to deter any unwanted visitors.

Title: Breeding Penguins
Date of Issue: 29 September 2010
Country: Falkland Islands
Denominations: 70p x 6


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