6 January, 2000
It is snowing and actually a little cold out (about 20 deg. F) so I am inside. Out the window, however I have the telescope trained on a group of Adelie penguins sliding around on the sea ice. They seem to have come to shore to spend the day, and are now moving back onto the ice. To get around, the use a combination of walking and tobogganing. Walking
is a little tough for a penguin as their legs are about 3 inches long. That is why they toboggan when they can. To do this they lay on their bellies and push with their feet. If the ice is flat and smooth its a great way to get a round. Its not so fun if they have to cross large cracks and pressure ridges where the ice is lifted up. Dr. David Ainley, the PI (principle investigator) of my project says they were probably 2 year old birds that have no mate or nest.. These bachelors tend to roam around with no parcticular direction in mind. By the third
or fourth year, Adelies start to look for a mate and begin nesting. This
begins in October. By December the eggs hatch, and the parents take turns feeding the chicks. This keeps the parents busy. They may have to
travel 3 days or more to get food, which they transport in their stomachs. Adelies eat fish and krill (a shrimp like crustacean). When the adult returns to the nest, it regurgitates the food for the chicks. As the chicks get a little older the parents stay away, except to feed them. At this time the chicks stay with a large group of other chicks. This is called a crèche, which is like a nursery. By the end of January, the chicks begin to fledge or go to the sea. From there on, they leave the parents, and are on their own. During the winter, the birds stay with ice flows and move Northwards to escape the fast ice (frozen solid with the permanent ice shelf).
Tomorrow, I will fly by helicopter to a place called Inclusion Hill,
which is above the Cape Bird rookery. There I will use radio telemetry to track the positions of some birds that have tiny radio transmitters taped to them. Some of the birds also have TDRs (time - depth recorders) which tell us how deep the penguin is diving for food and for
how long they are under. This information tells us how penguins obtain food and where they are going to get it. We also check to see what exactly they are eating. This information will help us understand what factors regulate the large penguin rookeries found in the area.
This may be my last journal entry for a while. There is no internet access where I am traveling. Rather, I will be living in a Scott tent high on a windy mountain. (Sounds nice!) I hope to be able to check in whenever a helo flight permits during the next three weeks, but it is possible that I will be in the field for the duration .
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