Proprietor’s wildlife photos (more penguins)

December 21, 2019 • 7:45 am

I still have some penguin videos from my trip to Antarctica. Here are two from one of my favorite species, the chinstrap penguin (Pygoscelis antarcticus). Both videos were made at Orne Harbor.

First, tobogganing (not the same as an earlier video):

And the noisy rookery in the same place (some day I have to learn how to move the camera). The males are calling to the females:

A gentoo penguin (Pygoscelis papua) having a nice scratch in the middle of its perambulation on Greenwich Island:

Also on Greenwich, a gentoo tobogganing and then standing up to walk. They travel in their bellies only when there is smooth snow to glide on. (In all these videos, the background howling is the wind.)

And gentoos, having exited the water after fishing, head for their communal rookery at Vernadsky Research Base in Antarctica, a Ukrainian station. Note the “caution: skuas” sign!


23 thoughts on “Proprietor’s wildlife photos (more penguins)

  1. Instead of the march of the penguins we could have the slide of the penguins. What is all that scratching about? Dry skin?

  2. They are cute on snow.

    “some day I have to learn how to move the camera”
    A big help is a travel tripod. They are relatively compact and light. A head with quick release is nice too. A fairly good alternative is a monopod.

  3. I’ve missed it – why a “Caution Skuas” sign? Surely the penguins can’t read. Can they?

    There’s a old Far Side cartoon that shows some birds sitting on a wire watching pedestrians walking around with targets on the tops of their heads. The caption is; “How birds see us” (or something like that). Is that the reason for the sign?

    1. Imagine a dozen, well educated & creative young Irishmen stuck on an island with a Poitín still & 18 hours of dark in June & 24-hrs daylight for a few weeks each side of xmas. What you have here at the station is the Ukrainian equivalent situation, right down to the humour & shenanigans.

      You have the Faraday Bar & the southernmost souvenir shop on the globe. After you’ve tweaked the vodka still, played darts, pool & cards, chatted up the tourists [large collection of bras donated by women who have visited the station], taught them some Uke dances, downed some shots, sobered up, whittled some wine corks, built a model schooner, done some ozone hole spotting, shrimp sampling & rock bashing – what then?

      You turn to making fun souvenir shop geegaws & colourful, fun signs reminding the penguin community about the local gang of skua thugs. Alcohol, long dark days/nights out of tourist hunting season what else is a young man to do**?

      ** OK, there’s a small gym [pin-ups adorned], but in a 90% to 100% male crew on a 12-month tour – there’s still a lot of energy that’s got to go somewhere.

      1. Well yes, I assumed it was tongue in cheek, but I like the idea that they were warning folks of accurate avian bombardiers. It’s funnier. Thanks

        1. Tastes differ a lot don’t they Edward!? 🙂 I find it funnier that the pictorial warning signs are for the benefit of the penguins [which is what the Ukrainians claim the signs are for].

          As an irrelevant aside:- Korean researchers discovered that skuas will attack those researchers the birds have seen mess non-destructively with their nests in the past, while ignoring researchers with a clean record. I suppose skuas go by clothing differences.

  4. Since different species of penguin seem to inhabit the same spaces above water, do they forage at different depths or have different diets to set them apart?

    1. When they overlap in resource territory it’s depths that set them apart. I’m not a penguinologist, but Mr. Google indicates the main penguin resources down in the west Antarctic are built on the spring phytoplankton bloom – that’s the clock that sets the lives of all the birds & mammals down there which are of course all predators or scavengers dependent on the phyto > krill chain.

      As I understand it, when the resource competition is between range-overlapping penguin species they don’t waste very valuable energy fighting each other in the waters, instead they focus more tightly where their particular species is at a peak of efficiency – they exploit different depths for the same food.

      Adélie & gentoo penguins reach an accommodation over food resources is an example I found for Palmer Station on the West Antarctic Peninsular [worth reading the whole thing in the link]:

      The scientists at Palmer have been monitoring Adélie penguins for many years. In 1975 there were 15,000 breeding pairs but today there are only a few thousand pairs. To explain the decline, oceanographers from the University of Delaware (UD) speculated that the two penguin species may be suffering from the competitive exclusion principle, also known as Gause’s law, which states that two species that compete for the exact same resources cannot stably coexist.


      An analysis of the data on thousands of foraging dives revealed that while the Adélie and gentoo penguins generally foraged in different areas, there was a small area of overlap between the two populations. However, when the species overlapped, the gentoos changed their behaviour and foraged at deeper depths, well below the Adélie penguins. Both penguin species are capable of foraging in deep water, yet the Adélies stayed in the upper 50 meters of the water while the gentoos went as deep as 150 meters when they were in overlapping areas. […] Furthermore, the fact that both penguin species were provisioning chicks during the satellite tracking implied that the adults were returning to the nest with enough food, further suggesting that competition was not limiting food resources.


      Adélie penguins are migratory and leave their breeding colony to over-winter at sea. Gentoo penguins are non-migratory and remain at the breeding colony all winter. “It is cool to see that two species can exist in very close quarters — less than 20 kilometres apart — and have different foraging habitats”

      I read somewhere else that some penguin species compete for common nest sites, but I don’t know if ‘accommodation’ happens in such cases.

      1. I imagine they’d all be in competition with baleen whales who eat krill. The penguins eat fish that feed on the krill as well as the krill itself.

        1. I think I said that in my reply to Hampenstein – when the whale hoovers [vacuum cleaners] arrive the penguins switch from easy krill catches to the harder fish catches?

          1. Vacuum cleaners that in many cases are endangered. I think the cat and dog food industries have something to answer for. Speaking of which, I think the emperor penguin is declining rapidly and is expected to go extinct.

  5. my favorite species, the chinstrap penguin

    Have you ever considered trying to grow and trim a beard into a “chinstrap”? Just for a joke, if nothing else.

  6. Note the “caution: skuas” sign!

    For the penguins, or the humans?
    A propos of nothing at all, I wonder what the German for “skua” is?

    [Wiki] The English word “skua” comes from the Faroese name for the great skua, skúgvur [ˈskɪkvʊɹ], with the island of Skúvoy renowned for its colony of that bird. The general Faroese term for skuas is kjógvi [ˈtʃɛkvɪ]. The word “jaeger” is derived from the German word Jäger, meaning “hunter”.[1][2] The genus name Stercorarius is Latin and means “of dung”;[note 1] because the food disgorged by other birds when pursued by skuas was once thought to be excrement.

    Oh, boring.
    I was wondering if it had inspired the naming of the German WW2 dive bomber, the Stuka. But that’s got a different etymology, “(from Sturzkampfflugzeug, “dive bomber”)”.

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