Elephants, Leopards and Lions - with flippers.

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Dewi
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Re: Elephants, Leopards and Lions - with flippers.

Post by Dewi » Tue May 22, 2012 9:13 pm

A bit of contrast for you all today, from the verdant greens of the North, to the stark cold of the South.

The mesmerising patterns in a moss bank on South Georgia.
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Blue streak through an iceberg.
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A carpet of Burnet flowers.
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Ice cliffs and moon.
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Rushing stream.
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Ice sculpture.
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Water fountains.
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Hoar frost on handle of ice chisel.
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Old whaling work boat.
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Cold metal.
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Blue Whale jawbone.
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Patterned ice.
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Dewi
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Joined: Fri May 25, 2012 7:38 pm
Location: United Kingdom

Re: Elephants, Leopards and Lions - with flippers.

Post by Dewi » Tue May 22, 2012 9:13 pm

South Georgia Pintails are endemic to the island and survive the harsh winters by sometimes feeding on carcasses of dead seals. They are secretive when breeding and the nests can be very difficult to locate. The total population is only around 1,000 birds.

Speckled Teal are present in very small numbers. It is unsure how these birds arrived, wether introduced by the Whalers as a food source, or by vagrancy from the Falkland Islands or South America. The population around Grytviken numbered eleven birds when I was there.

South Georgia Pipits are the only songbird in this region. It was always nice to hear their song during the breeding season. They are extremely tame and often entered the building where we were working. They are now restricted to the rat free areas of the island and predation by rats is the main threat to these birds.

South Georgia Pintail.
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Pintail chick.
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Speckled Teal.
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South Georgia Pipit.
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Dewi
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Re: Elephants, Leopards and Lions - with flippers.

Post by Dewi » Tue May 22, 2012 9:14 pm

Nan, We have a different species of Teal in Europe to the ones there. Our (Common) Teal are mostly migratory, heading to the North & East of Europe and into Russia to breed, but also resident in the UK, France, The Netherlands etc. They reach as far South as the coast of North Africa during Winter.

(Northern) Pintail are larger and greyer than the South Georgia ones. They are also migratory and head North & East into Russia to breed.

(Common) Teal.
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(Northern) Pintail.
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Dewi
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Re: Elephants, Leopards and Lions - with flippers.

Post by Dewi » Tue May 22, 2012 9:15 pm

Kelp Gulls will be familiar birds to most of you on here. The ones further South have paler eyes than the resident South African sub-species and a slight difference in the head shape. There are arguments that the two species should be split, but at present they remain as sub-species.

The ones that breed furthest South tend to migrate during the Winter, but if food is available, some will overwinter. Birds further North tend to be resident.

They make a nest of seaweed, grass, & moss, either on the ground on a prominent rise, or on a structure of some kind if a suitable one is available. They lay three eggs which are incubated for up to 30 days and the chicks take 45 to 50 days to fledge.

Their diet varies from region to region, the ones further South seemed to go for limpets at low tide on a regular basis, while others will catch and eat chicks of other birds. Fish, carrion and krill are also taken.

Kelp Gull.
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Nesting on a wrecked ship.
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Most seem to ignore gulls, but I always enjoyed watching them as they flew by.
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Dewi
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Re: Elephants, Leopards and Lions - with flippers.

Post by Dewi » Tue May 22, 2012 9:16 pm

The eerie, haunting call of a Light-mantled Sooty Albatross must surely be one of the most evocative sounds in the natural world. To sit on a mist-shrouded cliff top and hear the plaintive, long drawn out Pree-oowww echoing in the gullies below sends a shiver down ones spine.

On clearer days, you can sit and watch these birds in an aerial ballet in which a pair will fly together along the cliff tops, mirroring each others movements with a grace and precision which is simply breathtaking. This twinning display is one of the wonders of nature which for some reason is not as well known as other species' display.

The adults arrive back on their breeding grounds in mid-October. Previously paired birds await the arrival of their mates, whilst younger birds search out partners of their own by displaying.

Males generally arrive first and patrol the cliffs looking for suitable nesting ledges. Once selected, he lands and begins to attract a mate by Sky-calling. When the other partner returns, or a new one is found, both birds take to the wing and start their twinning display. Younger birds need a lot of practice and it is obvious to see which birds have been together before as their flights are perfectly synchronised, whilst the younger birds are almost clumsy in comparison. Sometimes a third or fourth bird will join in these flights.

Ledge displays are also performed, where pairs will sky-call, bill point and tail twist to each-other in a ritualistic manner.

The single egg is laid at the end of October or first week of November and both birds take turns with incubation, which lasts approximately 70 days. The egg hatches out during the last week of December or first week of January and is not left on it’s own until three weeks have elapsed. After this period, both the adults go out to sea in search of food and return approximately every two days to feed the chick. Their diet consists of Squid, Crustaceans, Fish and Carrion.

Fledging takes around 140 days after hatching and the juveniles will spend on average 7 years out to sea before returning to their natal areas to breed.

Light-mantled Sooty Albatross.
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Bird arriving at the start of the breeding season.
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Males search the cliffs for a suitable nesting ledge.
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Once a ledge is selected, he will sky call to attract a mate.
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He will then begin a display flight on his own.
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Once a mate is attracted, they perform the twinning display.
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Younger, inexperienced birds practice together in small groups.
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Ledge displays usually start with a head bow.
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This will include bill thrusting.
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Both head bow and sky call displays.
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Nest building.
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Recently laid egg.
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Incubation.
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Recently hatched chick.
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Older chick.
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Loosing the white face.
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Close to fledging.
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Once fledged, they roam the Southern Oceans for up to seven years.
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Dewi
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Re: Elephants, Leopards and Lions - with flippers.

Post by Dewi » Tue May 22, 2012 9:17 pm

No write up this evening, just some more oversized ice cubes for you to look at. :lol:

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Dewi
Posts: 12847
Joined: Fri May 25, 2012 7:38 pm
Location: United Kingdom

Re: Elephants, Leopards and Lions - with flippers.

Post by Dewi » Tue May 22, 2012 9:17 pm

Blue-eyed Shags were once considered to be a single species, but have now been split into several distinct species. The photos below are of Antarctic and South Georgia Shags, but for some reason, I still group them all together and still refer to them as Blue-eyed.

They are gregarious when fishing and move along the surface of the sea, the birds at the front diving down to catch fish, then surfacing at the rear of the group, where they fly to the front to repeat the process.

They often rest on icebergs in between bouts of fishing and you often saw groups in flight heading out to favoured fishing grounds or returning to the colonies.

They breed in colonies of a few pairs, to ones with over a hundred pairs. These colonies can be on a cliffside or within existing Penguin colonies.

They lay up to three eggs and incubate these in a nest of seaweed or kelp and incubate the eggs for around 30 days. Chicks fledge at around 43 days where they then leave the natal colonies and head out to open water in Winter.

Blue-eyed Shag.
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Close up of head.
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Swimming on the surface.
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Heading out on a fishing foray.
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A raft of birds fishing.
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Resting atop an iceberg.
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Returning to the colony.
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Incubating eggs.
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Looking after a brood of youngsters.
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Once old enough, they leave the nest and stand alone to wait the return of the adults at feeding time.
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Going to roost.
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Dewi
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Joined: Fri May 25, 2012 7:38 pm
Location: United Kingdom

Re: Elephants, Leopards and Lions - with flippers.

Post by Dewi » Tue May 22, 2012 9:18 pm

Chinstrap Penguins span the zone between the true Antarctic and the Sub-Antarctic Species. At South Georgia, this was their most Northerly Breeding range, whilst halfay down the Peninsula was their Southernmost breeding colony. The effects of global warming has meant that this species is benefiting from the lack of ice further South and is expanding it's range in that direction. The main colonies are on the islands of the Scotia ark, with millions of pairs at some sites, but unfortunately, I never managed to see these impressive sights.

Chinstraps feed chiefly on crustaceans and fish. They lay two eggs which are incubated for approx 35 days and the chicks fledge at around fifty days old.

Out at sea, they are the most likely of the Penguins to be seen congregated on icebergs.
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It's obvious where they get their name from.
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Birds return to the colonies from October onwards after a Winter spent out at sea feeding.
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Nesting may take place in mixed colonies with Blue-eyed Shags and other Penguin species.
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Both adults share in chick raising duties.
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The birds moult following the breeding season before heading back out to sea.
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Dewi
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Joined: Fri May 25, 2012 7:38 pm
Location: United Kingdom

Re: Elephants, Leopards and Lions - with flippers.

Post by Dewi » Tue May 22, 2012 9:19 pm

Black-browed Albatross are the most numerous of the Albatross species breeding on South Georgia. There are also large colonies in the Falkland Islands and on islands off South America with other colonies on islands in the southern Indian Ocean and on islands South of New Zealand.

They breed annually, returning to the colonies on South Georgia in September and lay a single egg which is incubated for 65 to 72 days and the chicks fledge at 110 to 125 days old. They feed mainly on fish and krill.

Black-browed Albatross and rainbow out at sea.
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Juvenile Black-browed Albatross in flight.
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Colonies are situated on tussac strewn hillsides.
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Birds continually fly over the colony.
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Displaying adult at chosen nest ledge.
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Nests are built up of mud, moss and tussac grass.
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A single egg is laid.
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Head studies of the adult birds.
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A nest with a view.
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Dewi
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Re: Elephants, Leopards and Lions - with flippers.

Post by Dewi » Tue May 22, 2012 9:20 pm

Some clouds and sunsets/sunrises for you this evening. Enjoy. :)

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