Readers’ wildlife photos

It turns out that while I was in the Antarctic on the Hurtigruten ship MS Roald Amundsen, reader John Crisp (who’s sent us photos before) was about to head to Antarctica aboard another and smaller Hurtigruten ship, the MS Fram. He sent some lovely pictures from his trip, and I’ve indented his narrative:

You may remember that I wrote to you last year to say that I would be heading to Antarctica a little while after you, not on the Amundsen, but on a sister ship called the Fram. I thought you might be interested in the attached photographs, since you commented on the colonies of black-browed on the Falkland Islands. I think that one of the colonies in my photos is the one you visited [JAC: on West Point Island; see here], in the long grass, while the other one was elsewhere on the island on a cliff edge. By the time we got there (New Year’s Day 2020), many of the albatross chicks had been born, though a few were still eggs.

By the way, and my apologies if you already knew this: according to David Attenborough’s program on Antarctica, these albatrosses only recognise their chicks if they are on the nest. If for any reason (in the case of the Attenborough program, a powerful storm) the chick is expelled from the nest, even a few centimetres away, the adult bird ignores it completely, while they are the most attentive parents while the chick is on the nest…

I have literally thousands of photos from the trip, but don’t want to bombard you with stuff you have already posted. So tell me if you want more (at one point we were surrounded by an estimated 200 humpback whales a few metres from the ship).

Of course I told him I wanted more photos, and I hope we’ll have them soon. Here are black-browed albatrosses, Thalassarche melanophris:










These are King Cormorants, also called Imperial Shags, Leucocarbo atriceps:



  1. rickflick
    Posted February 17, 2020 at 8:49 am | Permalink

    Beautiful birds. I wonder if this is a species that spends nearly all of it’s life on the wing. The nest area reminds me of my visit to Muriwai’s gannet colony. A most striking aspect is the rich odor. I’d guess there is quit a noticeable smell among the albatrosses too. I should dig out my gannet pictures and send them in.

    • John CRISP
      Posted February 17, 2020 at 9:33 am | Permalink

      Once the chicks are weaned and can fly, they leave the nest and do not touch land again for five years, until they are ready to breed themselves. However, they are not on the wing throughout this entire time, since they settle on the water in order to fish and rest.

      • rickflick
        Posted February 17, 2020 at 10:42 am | Permalink

        Quite a mariner’s life.

      • Nicolaas Stempels
        Posted February 17, 2020 at 12:05 pm | Permalink

        Are they also victim to the slaughter when learning to fly (by sharks and other predators) we’ve seen with other albatrosses?

    • John CRISP
      Posted February 17, 2020 at 9:35 am | Permalink

      And yes, they are a bit smelly, but nothing like as odoriferous as the immense penguin colonies.

      • Posted February 17, 2020 at 10:55 am | Permalink

        That reminds me of when I was visiting a tiny island off of the Baja coast. It had a dense colony of either albatross or boobies (I don’t remember which). Nature documentaries don’t mention the smell…

        • rickflick
          Posted February 17, 2020 at 10:58 am | Permalink

          I can imagine Sir Attenborough holding his nose between takes. 😎

  2. Posted February 17, 2020 at 9:32 am | Permalink

    Albatross babies are mega-cute!

  3. Posted February 17, 2020 at 10:55 am | Permalink

    Very interesting! Curious nests that these birds make.

  4. Mark R.
    Posted February 17, 2020 at 12:24 pm | Permalink

    Imperial Shags…what a name!

    Thanks for the albatross photos as well- beautiful.

    Looking forward to some whale pics; that must have been a blast.

  5. Posted February 17, 2020 at 6:47 pm | Permalink

    I can’t remember the species of bird but the chicks on the nest mound reminded me of some footage I saw recently.
    Strong winds which are increasing at this bird’s breeding location (the finger is pointed toward global warming) is blowing the young off the mounds whilst the parent is out at sea fishing. When the parent returns even though the young is standing, sitting right next to the mound it does not feed the chick, ignoring the struggling wind battered mite as if it’s not even there! incredible to watch. The chick has to fight it’s way back onto the mound to be feed and it seems to ‘know’ this. Once there it’s magic, what the hell, where did you come from! regurgitate and satisfy.
    It had it’s tragic results but this one made it.

  6. Posted February 17, 2020 at 6:51 pm | Permalink

    How wonderful, John! The penultimate photo is a good one for Valentine’s Day too.

  7. Raymond Moody
    Posted February 19, 2020 at 2:01 am | Permalink


    Ray Sent from my iPad


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