Cape Cotter, 3rd field session - small chicks are about to get bigger (unless a skua decides otherwise)‏

Our third field session in Cape Cotter, busier, allowed us to study more aspects of the macaroni penguins' biology, among which some had never been studied here in Kerguelen. When we arrived, the first chicks, small balls of down hidden under the incubating pouch of adults, had just hatched. Females started going back from sea to feed them. At first, we didn't necesarily saw them but we could hear them; their peeps added noise to the constant racket of the colony. We could also see females with their chests and bellies stained in orange because of the crustaceans they regurgitated to feed the chicks. At this time, females alternated trips at sea, more or less long, to bring back enough food for the chicks to grow bigger. At this critical time, skuas and giant petrels fighted for chicks that weren't guarded very well and we witnessed some terrible scenes. As far as work goes, we were pretty busy. We resumed the monitoring of the colonies to know which one of the males and females were on nest. We measured and weighed chicks to calculate their growth rate, we fitted birds with different kinds of devices, and IDed others (an electronic chip was injected under the skin so the birds can be recognizable forever), among other things. Anyway, in Cape Cotter, life went on and we moved on to different stages of species' lifecycles. The gentoo penguins's chicks looked almost like adults, and the colonies were now closer to the sea. A few fur seals ' harems were in place, a few females had given birth. Kerguelen shags fed their chicks , who grew bigger fast, too! The wandering albatrosses were still there, mating and building their nests. Some had also laid eggs. The elephant seals rested and molted together. From time to time, we could also see a few skuas' chicks, wandering around the nests. And, as always, there was the Mount Campbell, the huge macaroni penguins' colonies, the clouds and sunsets we can only see here. As you can tell, everything went well in this magical setting and time flew!


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Hatching of a macaroni penguin's egg (photo: Thibaut)


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Fur seal and its pup


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Macaroni penguin's chick


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Skuas eating a macaroni penguin's chick

Kerguelen gorfous macaronis terrain Cap Cotter skua poussins

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