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 9:21 pm

Emperors are the largest of the Penguin species. Ranging from 1.0 to 1.3m in length and weighing up to 41kg. They breed the furthest South of any of the other species and have adopted a rather unique breeding regime which sees the males incubating the eggs during the long, cold Winter period.

They feed mostly on fish, cephalopods and crustaceans which they dive after to depths of around 50m, but have been recorded to dive to 500m.

When breeding, the adults make a long march onto the fast ice, sometimes far from the sea, to their colonies. Pairs display and mate prior to copulation. Once the female lays the single, large egg, she passes it over to the male before departing back to sea to feed. The males incubate the eggs throughout the long Winter nights by placing the egg on top of their feet and covering it with their feathers. Incubation lasts on average 65 days, during which time the males have not fed since leaving the sea. Females time their arrival back to the colony around egg hatching time, but the males still have a reserve of protein rich oil on which to give the chicks their first feed. Males depart out to sea to feed up after the females arrival, and both adults take turns thereafter to feed the chick.

As they grow older, the chicks are too big to shelter under the adults, so creche together in large groups for protection from the elements. They fledge after 150 days, but have already been abandoned by the adults at this stage. They make their way to the ice edge and wander far to the North in their first year.

Returning Emperor Penguin.
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Emperor Penguin head study.
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Males incubating eggs.
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Chick being fed.
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Inspecting a new world outside.
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Socialising.
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Fatherly love.
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Almost time for eviction.
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Creche.
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Dewi
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Re: Elephants, Leopards and Lions - with flippers.

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

Some more icebergs & Sunsets etc for you this evening.........

Subtle evening light.
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Low evening light on icecliffs.
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Arched 'berg.
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Reflection of ice.
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Jumbled 'berg.
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The Sphynx.
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A break in the cloud.
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The view from the back door.
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The sun plays peekaboo.
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The Chippyshop.
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The cross at Peterman Island.
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Two suns in the sunset.
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Dewi
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Re: Elephants, Leopards and Lions - with flippers.

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

Slightly warmer climes this evening.

South American Sealions breed on remote beaches in the Falkland Islands and along the coast of South America.

They come ashore during the Summer months to pup. Harems are presided over by a dominant bull, who fights off all other bulls in the race to pass on his genes.

I only managed to spend a couple of days watching this species, so photos are few I'm afraid.

Rugged Scenery on the Falkland Islands.
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Dominant Bull South American Sealion.
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A typical hareem nestled below a cliff.
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Cows and pups with dominant bull.
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Immature bull.
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Cow resting ashore.
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Cow swimming in clear waters.
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Another species I only saw briefly were Sub-antarctic Fur Seals on Marion Island. The adult bulls have a distinctive crest on their heads and they all sport a creamy breast and belly.

Adult bull.
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Almost weaned pups.
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Beach view on Marion Island.
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Dewi
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Re: Elephants, Leopards and Lions - with flippers.

Post by Dewi » Tue May 22, 2012 9:23 pm

There are two species of Skua in the region, the South Polar Skua and the Subantarctic Skua. The former breeds further South than the latter, but at the Northern end of the Peninsula, both species co-exist and even interbreed on occasion, making identification a bit of a headache.

They return to the region from October onwards after spending the Winter further North. South Polar Skuas migrate the furthest North, with records from Greenland. Subantarctic Skuas reach Southern South America and South Africa.

Returning birds display to one another and set up territories. Nests are normally a scrape in moss or grass and they lay two eggs. Adults are very aggressive towards intruders and will attack without hesitation, hitting the intruder soundly with a wing or raking their dew claw along the top of the head.

Eggs are incubated for an average of 30 days and fledging takes around 40 days (longer on average for Subantarctic Skua).

South Polar Skuas feed predominantly on fish and also take Penguin eggs in the breeding season. They also catch and kill Penguin chicks when the opportunity arises.

Subantarctic Skuas have a wider range of prey and some birds tend to specialise in certain species. On Bird Island, some would go for Burrowing Petrels, whilst others seemed to stay on the beaches scavenging off seal carcasses.

They are social birds when not breeding and "clubs" would gather in favoured areas. They also grouped together near streams or ponds to bathe and preen regularly.

South Polar Skua.
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Subantarctic Skua.
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Long call display, Subantarctic Skua.
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Displaying pair of South Polar Skuas.
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Incubating South Polar Skua.
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Recently hatched South Polar Skua Chick.
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Recently hatched Subantarctic Skua chick.
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Subantarctic Skua chick hiding in grass.
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Flight feathers starting to replace the downy feathers of a South Polar Skua chick.
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Recently Fledged South Polar Skua. Colouration is very uniform all over at this age.
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Aggression at the nest by Subantarctic Skua.
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Attack flight of South Polar Skua.
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Subantarctic Skuas feeding on Penguin carcass, watched by Antarctic Fur Seal.
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Subantarctic Skua club bathing.
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Subantarctic Skua bathing.
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South Polar Skua adult.
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Dewi
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Re: Elephants, Leopards and Lions - with flippers.

Post by Dewi » Tue May 22, 2012 9:24 pm

Sailing North or South to and from Antarctica or any of the islands in the Southern Ocean is a birder's paradise. Depending on the season and location, a myriad of seabirds can be encountered, especially if you are over an area that is rich in food that these birds feed upon. I spent many happy hours on the bridge or at the stern of the ships I sailed on searching for seabirds passing by or following in the ship's wake.

In addition to the Albatross species mentioned before here, smaller seabirds were also evident.

Southern Fulmars were regularly seen.
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Close to the ice, Antarctic Petrels could be found on occasion.
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White-chinned Petrels were amongst the commonest seabirds on any of the trips.
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Antarctic Prions could be seen in huge swirling flocks, especially close to South Georgia.
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While closer to Marion Island, Salvin's Prions were the predominant species to be seen.
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Less regular were the Soft-plumaged Petrels.
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and Atlantic Petrel was a real rarity, but never came close to the ship.
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Blue Petrels were reasonably common.
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Whilst Diving Petrels were often seen flying through wave-crests.
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Sooty Shearwaters were very common off the Falkland Islands.
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With the occasional Great Shearwater encountered on most trips the further North you were.
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Grey Petrels were common in the ocean South of South Africa.
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Whilst the two most common species seen, the Cape Petrel and Wilson's Storm-petrel will be posted later on in this report.

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

Post by Dewi » Tue May 22, 2012 9:25 pm

The dainty little Wilson's Storm Petrel is a true oceanic wanderer. Outside of the breeding season, they travel as far North as the coast of Labrador and Japan. They feed on Cephalapods, crustaceans and carrion, which they take from the surface, often disturbing the surface of the water with their feet.

They return to their breeding grounds from September onwards and lay a single egg in a rock drecice deep in the ground. The egg is incubated for approximately 40 days and the chicks take 50 to 60 days to fledge.

At one time, thought to be the most numerous seabird in the World. Predation by cats and rodents introduced onto islands have reduced their numbers significantly in some areas.

Wilson's Storm-petrel.
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Returning birds establish nest sites and call to attract a mate.
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Once paired, they call to eachother in the burrow.
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The single egg is very large in relation to body size.
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A downy chick.
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Chicks take a long time to fledge.
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Before making huge ocean journeys during their first year.
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Dewi
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Re: Elephants, Leopards and Lions - with flippers.

Post by Dewi » Tue May 22, 2012 9:25 pm

Gentoo Penguins are birds of the Northern tip of the Peninsula and outlying islands. They feed mainly on crustaceans and fish which they catch by pursuit diving. They return to their colonies as early as June on the Northern Islands through to December the further South you head.

Gentoo Penguin coming ashore.
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Gentoo Penguins on beach.
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Head Study. Males have longer, heavier bills than the females.
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Resting.
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Birds bray loudly to attract a mate.
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Nests are usually built with stones, but seaweed will also be utilised sometimes.
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Displaying birds head bow to each other.
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Once paired, the nest is built up and examined by the female for suitability.
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The male offers small pebbles to the sitting female.
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The first egg is laid, closely followed by a second.
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Dewi
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Re: Elephants, Leopards and Lions - with flippers.

Post by Dewi » Tue May 22, 2012 9:26 pm

The eggs are incubated for 35 days before they hatch. You can see the chick's egg-tooth chipping away at the shell in this photo.
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Two chicks are normally raised which are looked after by both adults in turn.
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Returning adults swap over nest duty and the chicks are fed regurgitated food.
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They grow quickly on this nourishing diet.
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While the adults continue to protect them from Skuas or noisy neighbours!.
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Each morning, one of the adults goes off to look for food.
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And return in the evenings with a stomach full of fish or crustaceans for the chicks.
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The hike up to the colony may take a while, and penguin pathways become evident in the snowfields.
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Dewi
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Re: Elephants, Leopards and Lions - with flippers.

Post by Dewi » Tue May 22, 2012 9:27 pm

The chicks grow too big to huddle under their parents and join a creche with other chicks. They are very inquisitive and wander around inspecting everything they come across.
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As they get closer to moulting into their first set of proper feathers, they move down towards the beach to wait for the adults to return with food.

Returning adults.
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As soon as they recognise one of their parents by call, a wild chase ensues along the beach to be the first to be fed.
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Once the adult has been pestered sufficiently, the chick taps it's bill against that of the parent and this stimulates regurgitation.
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The chicks and adults now gather to roost on the ice along the beach.
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The chicks are now close to leaving the beaches and heading out to sea. This is when they are vulnerable to attack from Leopard Seals.
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Eventually, they leave the beach to spent their first Winter out at sea to feed up.
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Dewi
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Re: Elephants, Leopards and Lions - with flippers.

Post by Dewi » Tue May 22, 2012 9:28 pm

Blu Tuna, the dolphin pic was the only one of a series that came out clear, the others have ripples or the dolphin was not as close to the surface of the wave. A case of being in the right place at the right time and getting lucky with the shot. \O

Sprocky, no hi-jack, relevant to this thread. \O I loved this ship. She was a sister ship to the old RRS Bransfield which I sailed on in the mid 80's. When I stepped onboard the Agulhas for the first time, it was like going home. \O

The Agulhas.
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