Giant Antarctic Petrel

4 01 2010

The giant petrel is the largest flying bird in Antarctica. Like the skua, it is a predator. These increasingly rare birds lay eggs in October and the eggs hatch in January. There is actually a rather large baby chick directly behind this bird in the background. I got one other shot of the mother and baby from another angle, but had to be careful not to stay too long or get too close. I used my 80-200 lens for this shot, so I was quite a distance away (and face down on the ground to get the eye level shot!). There were two adults and two chicks with them at Hannah Point, where this photo was taken. According to Guillaume Dargaud on his Antarctic Birds site, “the giant petrel is the largest of the 95 species of petrel and also the longest living one. A bird tagged in 1952 is still alive.” I also learned that the giant petrel is commonly known as a “stinker” because of its habit of vomiting on any one or thing that approaches them and appears to impose a threat. (Thank goodness for long lenses!)

© Cindy Dyer. All rights reserved.

Hannah Point Chinstrap penguins

9 05 2008

From my 35mm archives, Antarctica trip — Hannah Point, on the south shore of Livingston Island, was one of our Zodiac landings in Antarctica. The area is named after the Hannah of Liverpool, a ship that wrecked here in 1820 while traveling through the South Shetland Islands. The area is the site of a massive Chinstrap penguin rookery (with Gentoo penguins thrown into the mix). The fuzzy grayish-brown birds are juvenile penguins. The chicks lying on the rocks are molting, which is apparently an exhausting process. Chinstraps get their name from the thin black strips across the bottom of their throats. They may be the most abundant of penguins, with population estimates of over 7 million breeding pairs! I saw a pair of macaroni penguins (they have red beaks and hairy orange eyebrows), a nesting pair of Southern giant petrels, blue-eyes shags, skuas, and a large colony of Southern elephant seals.

Learn more about Chinstrap penguins here:

© Cindy Dyer. All rights reserved.