Unlike the gentoos the comical looking macaroni penguins with their bushy yellow ‘eyebrows’ head to sea for the winter, leaving behind vast empty swathes of hillside where their colonies used to be. Since they left back in April not a single one has been seen until the 17th of the month when we saw the first few males returning to colony Big Mac to claim their territories. Over the following two weeks the rest of the males have returned and the colonies are now full of thousands of macs defending their territories and awaiting their mates, it is amazing to see such a rapid influx of penguins!
We also had an unusual visit from another member of the penguin kingdom this month, when an Adelie was seen mingling with the gentoos at Square Pond. Adelies are generally restricted to Antarctic waters, only very rarely being sighted around South Georgia. It was great to see one, this is the first I have seen in 4 years of working on South Georgia. He was a fine chap, and very amenable to the paparazzi style photography he inevitably received from all on base, although he might have chosen a better backdrop than muddy tussock!
C,C,Click at a Penguin: Several groups from the KEP science base took the opportunity to walk or ski the long trek across the Barff Peninsula to visit the wildlife of St Andrews Bay during the elephant seal breeding season. Despite heavy packs there is always room for a good camera if you are going to this amazing spot, and Alastair Wilson’s efforts to carry his photographic gear all the way there were paid off with this amazing shot of the Milky Way over the king penguin colony at night.
Krill in the Cove: There has been a lot of krill in and around King Edward Cove in October. Day after day the krill could be seen in the shallows, and in places washed up in heaps on the beaches, and the local birds had feasted so heavily on the bounty that they could eat no more and sat in big flocks all around the shore. At night the krill were emitting phosphorescence in the wake of the boats.
South Georgia October 2012 Newsletter