South Georgia Macaroni Penguins
Macaroni Penguins are more numerous than King Penguins on South Georgia. However, we saw lots of King and very few
Macaroni. The King Penguins are very easy to access since they were located off broad beaches. The Macaroni came in on
narrow beaches and hiked to the slopes. Our last day at South Georgia we were able to reach a group of Macaroni. It was a
snowy wet day. The water was a little rougher. When we landed on a small beach, we had to make our way through
aggressive fur seals and then climb up a snowy slope to the Macaroni. It was worth the effort.
Another terrific encounter we had on South Georgia was a visit to see Wandering Albatross. These magnificent birds have
the largest wingspan of any bird on earth--up to eleven feet. These birds can live to the age of seventy. These birds are
incapable of taking off except in a strong wind. Once aloft, they are very efficient. The heart rate of a Wandering Albatross
is not much faster than one sitting still. Unlike most birds, they have two joints in their wings.
To see these
birds, we made
another Zodiac
landing and
challenged the
fur seals once
again. Then we
climbed up a
small mountain to
where the
Albatross raised
their young.
We were unusually fortunate in our timing. There were several males standing up in the exposed area with their wings
spread apart practicing for their departure (see the two photos below). In the next few hours these young Wandering
Albatross would take off and not return for seven years to find a mate! This young Albatross made an effort to fly and did
a crash landing just a few feet in front of us.
Many of the birds in this part of the world have huge wingspans. We saw Petral, Skua, and so much more bird life. Unlike
the penguins, these other birds are quite a challenge to photograph.
Southern Giant Petrel