Penguins and Cormorants Everywhere

Day 5 Afternoon – Tuckers Islets

Tuckers Islets, is a grouping of small inlands that makes a great and wonderfully sheltered anchorage for Via Australis.  It is also a perfect place to closely observe colonies of Magellanic Penguins (which only live in the Southern Hemisphere), as well as both the Rock and King Cormorants.

The birds seem totally unaware of human intrusion and it is quite feasible to approach the shoreline quietly in the tender to the point of placing the bow onto the beach.  Sit still and keep the camera primed and it will not be long before the curious penguins approach the boat to check out the visitors.

While we were there we were able also to observe close up, other species including the Caracara Hawk, a sinister looking bird of prey and the ever present scavenger Skua birds who have a love-hate relation ship with the penguin stealing the eggs and newly hatched chicks for food yet, at the same time, cleaning up the mess penguins leave behind.

At this time of year the penguin chicks are fleshing up, shedding the fluffy feathers and acquiring the smooth, sleek oiled and therefore waterproof plumage that enables them to survive for long periods in the water while they fish and swim great distances.

It is not unheard of to find these birds at the equator on either the Atlantic or Pacific side of the continent

Sit still in the tender and chances are, a Cinclode, a small and somewhat curious bird, will approach.

Distinctive markings around its eyes give the impression it might be wearing flying goggles and that seems to be the derivation of its more common name of the Pilot bird