We left Los Angeles on a Wednesday night, and finally got to see penguins on Sunday when we took our first trip out to the Gentoo penguin rookery, a 5 minute walk from the Sea Lion Lodge.
There was a mixture of adults and molting chicks that were three months old
The adults were quite vocal as they interacted with their chicks
As the sun set a nice pink sky appeared
They did their final vocalization before it got dark
In the morning they would walk the one mile to the ocean to fish for the day
They entered the water in one big splash and disappeared
Some of theM would run out of the water as soon as they entered it. Maybe it was too wet for them that day?
After a variable amount of time in the water they would return
They came from all directions, so you needed to be ready at all times
They move surprisingly fast even with those short legs
Some of them had such full bellies that they waddled back to shore
Off they went in a group for the one mile hike back to the rookery to feed the chicks
They walked on well-marked trails through tussack grass to feed the starving chicks
They were on a mission to feed their chicks, so we had to stand out of the way to avoid being run over
They move surprisingly fast with those full bellies
The molting chicks were so hungry they would mob the adults and chase them incessantly until the adults regurgitated food for them. It was hilarious to watch this, as the relentless chicks never gave the adults a moment of peace.
This adult was chased by two chicks
This adult was lucky only one chick chased it
There was so much running around we had a hard time singling out just one to photograph
These three chicks were so zealous in their pursuit that they knocked the adult down
Some of the chicks chased the adults into the water. These chicks did not know how to swim, and once they were literally in over their heads they would flop around in a panic. It was quite entertaining to say the least!
Eventually the adults gave up and stopped running
The chick would bring its beak up to the adult
It would rub its beak against the adults beak to stimulate it to regurgitate
The chicks finally got their meal
After eating some of the chicks found a nice tuft of grass for a siesta
You are not to approach the chicks while they are molting. Molting is a stressful time, and if the chick perceives you as a danger ,it can succumb to the stress and expire. Nobody told this to the more inquisitive chicks though. After feeding, if you laid on the ground some would approach quite closely as you will see from the following sequence. This is the pee-your-pants moment.
They would slowly approach as a group at first
Eventually one would run up to us as if we were long lost friends
He would stare at us for a few minutes before moving closer
Eventually he walked right up to my camera and put his face in my lens
Sometimes his friends would join him to see what all of the fuss is about
We also saw Gentoo penguins when we went to New Island. They were at the north end, and were being stalked by a rogue sea lion that eats penguins. You can learn about him when you go to the Rogue Sea Lion page.
Here are some photos of the Gentoo’s on a day when they were not being hunted, but were still practicing their ocean landing by jumping out of the water at the beach.