Final update for the season
The Adélie penguin summer tracking program came to a superb end at Casey with a final tracker retrieved at the last possible moment. Readers in touch with news from other stations will know that this year we had field teams working near each of the three Australian stations attaching small global positioning system (GPS) trackers to the feathers on the backs of the penguins so that we could determine where the penguins were foraging. This was our first attempt at simultaneous deployments in these three areas and the results will allow us to take advantage of the natural variability in the marine environment to better understand the penguins foraging requirements, particularly in relation to sea ice. We are thrilled that the field season relating to this project has been so successful, even during the final stage when the adults are less tied to their nests and the trackers are much more difficult to retrieve.
The chicks, which are now large (around three to four kg), very mobile and starting to lose their down feathers, caused havoc by running around when we weighed them. Amidst the laughter at how delightful they looked, we had to approach them very slowly and carefully to catch them. The penguin colonies at this stage are very noisy and smelly with pink krill stained chick poo covering the rocks and indeed many of the adults. This makes for a sensational vista of colours in the evening light, with the backdrop of startling white bergs, the brilliant blue of the sea and the striking black and white of the penguins setting it all off very nicely.
Once again, all this work would not have been possible without the support from the people on station and back at Kingston (Tasmania), so thank you once again, and yes, it must be obvious that I am back in Hobart missing the penguins.