It was a few hours of driving and on the way Derek our guide also pointed out some of the locations that were in the headlines in 1982, such as Mount Longdon, where Victoria cross winner Sgt McKay was killed, Mount Harriet, and Tumbledown. We didn't take time out to walk around these old battlegrounds, but had we done so, we would still have been able to find the debris of war, such as bullet shells, blankets, boots and even an old shaving kit. Seeing the areas for ourselves, it was clear how difficult the British attack would have been as there was little cover and the terrain was rough going.
After around three hours of driving over rough roads first and then bumpy tracks across the boggy fields, we arrived at volunteer point. A few of the king penguins were hanging around the white sandy beach, but most of the colony was at the rookery slightly inland. At last count the were around 750 adults and 550 chicks, so this is a large and successful colony.
|King penguin with its egg|
|King feeding its chick|
It was slightly strange watching them feed their chicks though as it almost looks like the adult has swallowed the chicks head entirely as it regurgitates the food for it.
We did also manage to spot one large fluffy brown chick which would have been a straggler from the last breeding season that had not yet developed its sleeker black and white plumage.
|King penguin year old chick|
Because the king penguins can abandon a chick if disturbed, there is a ring of white stones around the main rookery, which people do not cross. This way the penguins are content, but we can still enjoy watching them.
The kings are bigger than the other penguins we have seen, and they emphasize this even more as they generally walk high on their legs, rather than shuffling along as the others tend to. They do have a more imposing stance and their orange markings on their head and chest look most impressive.
|Gentoos playing under the vehicles|
|Gentoo pecking Tabitha|
Of course aside from being pecked a bit too vigorously, the thing that you need to be careful of with the penguins is their projectile pooing. They stand there all innocently, then suddenly lift their tail and squirt out a stream of poo that extends over a foot behind them. Thankfully we were never in the firing line, but we know a person who was, albeit not here. And penguin poo is very smelly.