Welcome to our travel blog. We are Tabitha and Nic. In 2011 we 'retired' in our early 40s and set off to travel the world. We spent our first year in South America and have been lucky enough to make two trips to Antarctica.

Our blog is a record of our travels, thoughts and experiences. It is not a guide book, but we do include some tips and information, so we hope that you may find it useful if you are planning to visit somewhere we have been. Or you may just find it interesting as a bit of armchair travel.

Thursday, February 21, 2013

Gourdin Island

From the zodiac cruise, we went straight to a landing on Gourdin Island.  With the land being a metre or two above the sea level, the crew had helpfully cut some rough steps into the ice to help us in getting out of the zodiac.

 Of course ice is slippery, so there was some trepidation about whether we were about to take a cold plunge.  Thankfully, unlike some of those penguins, we all made it safely ashore at the first attempt.

After spending a few moments watching the adelies and gentoos around the shoreline, we set off slightly further up the island to find our first chinstraps.  As we walked along, we were careful to follow the rules of not moving too close to a penguin and always giving them the right of way.

Of course the penguin doesn't actually know that they have the right of way, and more than once we had a pause while both we and the penguin were waiting for the other to pass by.

We eventually discovered that if we took one step backwards, that was enough to encourage them to go, and we could all get on our way.

When we reached the chinstrap nesting area, I sat down on a rock to watch them. After a few moments I heard a slight noise and looked around to find that I had sat next to a couple of resting adelie penguins. They looked at me, but seemed quite content that I wasn't going to do anything, so we all stayed put.

The chinstrap apparently can be quite a vicious penguin at times, and very territorial, but we didn't see any real aggression from the today, just the usual seeing off another penguin walking too close to their nest, or a quick spat over what presumably must be an especially good stone.

We headed back to the shore area to watch the penguins there a little more. They seemed in good spirits in the water and were porpoising nicely on their way in to land.

It was quite amusing to watch them trying to make it onshore in one leap.

One that I watched for a while had failed a few times so it jumped onto a bit of ice next to the ledge and wandered around that for a while, apparently looking for an easier step up onto the land. But there was none to be found.

It is actually quite a big leap that they have to make; you can see from the photo that it is higher than they are tall and they don't exactly have long legs to spring with.  Eventually the penguin made a leap for it and, after another couple of failed attempts, came sliding onto the snow near my feet, where it seemed quite surprised to see me, quickly jumped up and waddled off.

They do at least look beautifully clean when they come out of the water with their white stomachs gleaming, which is more than can be said for some of those who have been on land for a while.  One group of adelies in particular was especially filthy. 

It is unclear quite what the penguins think of people appearing on their islands.  They don't seem to get stressed about it as long as you give them their space and don't go in to their nesting areas.

But they do clearly find people, and the things that we bring with us, of interest.  Whenever we were at a site that had been inhabited before, you could guarantee that the penguins would be around any old structures, machinery and so forth.

And they like to check out the new things we bring too.  This is particularly true of the youngsters, but the adults can get quite curious too.  You will always find one having a quick nose at your backpack if you leave it on the ground.

But a couple of penguins here were quite interested at seeing a little camera set up in the snow, just at their level.  It was a small go pro or similar, that had been left on a mini tripod by one of the passengers to film or take regular photos.

The penguins walked past it a few times, having a little look, obviously not sure what to make of it.  Then they presumably must have decided that they weren't keen on it, as the next time they walked up to it, one of them quite deliberately kicked it over.

It was soon time to head back to the zodiacs and the ship, and I think that we were all quite pleased to get out of the cold.

I will leave you today with one of my own favourite chinstrap photos.

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