Gentoo Spring

Early November means spring for the Gentoo Penguins on the Antarctic Peninsula. They arrive back at the colonies and wait for the snow to melt so they can start building their nests. At some places, this happens earlier as at others. When the first bare rock gets snow free they start building their nests. This means collecting pebbles as there is no other nesting material available. But also pebbles are quite rare as most of them are still buried under the snow. So the few pebbles available get stolen often by neighbours.

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And when you manage to get a proper nest, one can start to look for a partner. Gentoos have quite an elaborate display, which involves offering pebbles (again), bowing to each other, touching each other’s bills. All this eventually leads to the copulation, which, as in most birds looks more like a balancing act where the male tries to stand on the females back while being kind to her and pressing his cloaca to that of the female. In this time of year, one can see all of these different stages quite close together, which makes it interesting to watch.

Arjen Drost

Arjen is a Polar ecologist, nature photographer and full time expedition guide on expedition cruise ships in both Polar regions. With his pictures and stories he likes to show the beauty of these very fragile and threatened places.

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