Falkland Islands – Part III – The Penguins

Other than the sheep, a rather smug looking specimen of which appears on the flag, the most famous animal of the Falklands must be the penguin. It is possible to see five species of penguin in the Falklands, all with their own distinct character and often rather dashing costume – these are the Magellanic, the Gentoo, the Rockhopper, the Macaroni and of course the King penguin.

The King Penguin colony at Volunteer Point

King penguins on the snow-like white beach.

Sometimes they really look like Russian dolls..

Detail of a penguin beak

Kings and a chick make their way along the beach

Kings have an 18 month breeding cycle, and on the Falklands chicks and eggs may be seen for much of the year.

Feeding trips for each parent may be many days, so a greeting is in order on their return.

Days in the Falklands are long - sunrise 4am and sunset 9.30pm but you can be sure of penguin activity right through the day.

A magellanic penguin engages 4 flipper drive.

The Neck on Saunders, a fine beach for a penguin, but a long walk to get there for most people - 15 miles on hillsides and clifftops!

Where the water is clear one can see ´squadrons´of penguins flying in!

The clear waters of The Neck.

A rockhopper portrait

Rockhoppers tend to come in through the stormier water, at first appearing as shadows under the waves.

Then bursting through the waves at speed in a behavior called ´porpoising´.

Sometimes many of them witll burst through the final waves onto the cliff at once.

The first challenge on landing is to get out of the zone where the waves blast over the rocks, otherwise they will get washed back out to sea.

Then the long climb begins..

..and may continue for some time. They are better at climbing cliffs than me, that´s for sure!

After all that work there´s nothing like a good shower in a waterfall!

The Gentoo may not be rock climbers but that doesn´t mean there is no hardship.. sandstorms can be vicious.

...and the distances across the beaches to the colonies can be large.

Gentoo colony in a sandstorm - our cameras loved us after that one!

Sometimes the winds are so strong you can actually see the wakes around the penguins as the sand flies along..

On Carcass Island there is a Gentoo colony on the top of a mountain - a good 45 minute climb for us - that´s some hike for a penguin to do every day!

The Gentoos tend to come back to and leave from the colony in the evening, forming a ´highway´from the sea.

Sunset light catches one penguin in the colony.

Gentoo chick in the evening light.

Nightfall at the Gentoo colony.

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