12 Feb 2016

South Georgia - Part I

This is a bit of a one-species post.

South Georgia = King Penguins,   King Penguins = South Georgia

South Georgia has the biggest King Penguin colony on Planet Earth; - the are 150,000 pairs  at St. Andrews Bay.

We visited St Andrews Bay and Salisbury Plain.

St. Andrews Bay, South Georgia
Those are all King Penguins along the shoreline in the distance.  And below, a bit closer.

King Penguin rookeries are attended by Snowy Sheathbills, which scavenge for whatever they can get. Here's one with three KPs on the beach.

Snowy Sheathbill - Chionis alba

I was ignoring this fluttering white bird above the tideline at Salisbury Plain, thinking it was just another grubby Sheathbill, so thanks to Dave Barnes, a fellow photographer, for pointing out to me that it was really a Snow Petrel , one of our target birds of the trip !

Snow Petrel - Pagrodroma nivea

The King Penguins seemed to be entering the sea in small groups.

They looked rather diffident about going in...once in the water, though, they could really move !

The penguin rookeries were a real spectacle, at which the photo opportunities seemed overwhelming...

King Penguins

It's not all sweetness and light for Aptenodytes patagonicus though, Southern Giant Petrels haunt the beaches to predate their young and hasten the demise of sick individuals.

Southern Giant Petrel

Among the supporting cast - 
Antarctic Tern
South Georgia Cormorant 
South American Sea Lion

Elephant Seal - pup
South Georgia has lots of wildlife - and it's mostly "up close and personal".

No need for long heavy lenses here.

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