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Thread: Penguin chicks take a break on the ice

  1. #1
    Elite Member Honey's Avatar
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    Dec 2006

    Default Penguin chicks take a break on the ice

    It's a hard life being a penguin chick. Born into an icy world where temperatures plunge to -40C with wind speeds up to 89mph, the youngsters must fend off predatory giant petrels from the air and leopard seals in the sea.
    Perhaps that is why these three are so exhausted. They belong to a colony near Snow Hill Island along the Antarctic Peninsula, which was first visited by humans only five years ago.

    'It was common to see several chicks huddled together dozing off, one using the flipper of another for a head-rest or a flipper laying across the head of it's uncaring neighbor'

    American wildlife photographer David C Schultz captured the intimate portrait of a penguin nursery or rookery during a trip to the region.
    'It looks chaotic when you approach the rookeries. Then you start to spot small groups of chicks huddled together trying to stay awake,' he told the Mail Online.
    'They are comical even when they're sleeping. I often saw chicks dozing off, one using the flipper of another for a head-rest or laying a flipper across the head of an uncaring neighbour.'
    Mr Schultz added: 'There was constant noise at the site as well, with chicks calling out for attention for another meal.'
    Emperor penguins are a particularly noisy bunch as the species has no fixed nest sites. Therefore the penguins rely on their voices to locate their families on the ice and have the widest range of calls of any penguin species.

    Emperor Penguins chicks must call to their parents for food as they don't have set nest locations. The species is incredibly curious and will approach visiting humans

    The birds are so unused to humans that they react with simple curiosity when scientists or photographers approach them.
    'On numerous occasions I’d be sitting a distance away from the rookery and a brave chick of the crčche would start to venture my way, followed shortly afterwards by the rest of the gang,' Mr Schultz said.
    'I left one of my cameras set up on a tripod and backed away as they approached me, just to see what would happen. The result was no gear being damaged and several very funny images as they tried to work out what it was.'

    Who's he? The Emperor Penguins were not bothered by photographers in their midst, David Schultz said.

    Mr Scultz also witnessed touching scenes of family life during his visit in July. Emperor penguins remain faithful to their breeding partner following courtship in the spring, although they often change partners from one year to the next.
    'When I visited the chicks were about three months old and are being watched after by either the male or female adult, sometimes both,' he said.
    'The female lays a single egg and hands it over to the male. He cradles the egg on his feet until it hatches about nine weeks later. Meanwhile the female makes the long trek back to the open sea to feed so she can bring back the chick’s first meal.
    'It’s a bit late to see chicks still tucked away under the adults brood pouch, but we did spot a few.
    'The parents are very protective of their chick and I did see several thwarted attempts of an adult trying to steal a chick away from its parent. They will do this if their chick has died or if the egg never hatches.'
    Chicks begin moulting into juvenile plumage from early November, which takes up to two months and is often not completed by the time they leave the colony.

    All the birds make the considerably shorter trek to the sea in December or January and spend the rest of the summer feeding there.

    Mr Schultz captured intimate family moments when visiting the hardy birds. Adult pairs will raise just one chick a year

    Mr Schultz joined an expedition on board a Russian icebreaker to reach the wonderful creatures. The team travelled by boat and helicopter followed by a two-mile hike across the sea ice. But the photographer said the trip was undoubtedly worth it.
    'Along with the dramatic landscape, with mountains towering straight out of the ocean, you find yourself surrounded by wildlife.
    'The feather patterns on the adults make for wonderful detail shots and when they puff out their chest and let out a call, heads stretched skyward, the sunlight just glows off their shiny coats.'
    Despite having plenty of subjects to choose from, setting up a perfect shot could take some work.

    Happy feet: Baby penguins follow Mr Schultz as he tries to set up his 'perfect shot'

    'Early one day I spotted a beautifully curved hole in an iceberg which had been frozen in place for the winter,' Mr Schultz said.
    'I thought later in the day when there was better light it could be used to frame a group of penguin chicks
    'So I sat on the ice by the nearby rookery and waited. It didn’t take long for several penguins, mostly chicks, to approach me. As they drew closer I slowly backed away, leading the penguins towards the spot I had selected.
    'It took more than an hour and in the end I had about forty penguins following me to the iceberg.

    'I stood and quickly moved around to the other side of the berg only to find that there were way too many birds now to make a nicely composed image. So I waited. Slowly they began to disperse until a single adult remained at which time I got one of my favorite images from the entire trip.'

    David Schultz (right) spent a day setting up his favourite shot of the expedition through a hole in the ice (left)

    This world of ice is far away from the gallery Mr Schultz runs among the the desert plains of Utah. The photographer was inspired to travel aged just 13 after he was diagnosed with juvenile diabetes. He was advised against a career that would make him dependent on his eyesight but this just made him determined to see as much of the world as he could.
    His particular interest in Antarctica was piqued after reading about Sir Ernest Shackleton's 1914 expedition aboard the ship Endurance.
    'The story was of course incredible,' he said.
    'But for me the photographs that Frank Hurley returns with was what got me hooked.'
    The latest expedition was Mr Schultz's fourth to the isolated continent and he says he hope to return to this magical world soon.

    For more information about David C Schultz's work visit his website

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  2. #2
    Elite Member Brookie's Avatar
    Join Date
    Feb 2008
    In the "D"


    Love the photo of the penguin framed by the blue glacial ice. Beautiful.

  3. #3
    Bronze Member denny's Avatar
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    Feb 2009


    I am also glad that he could fulfill his teenage dream - not many people are able to follow their calling. And that despite the doctors advicing him not to.
    He looks really happy and content in the last picture.
    I like to see people radiate from the heart
    He seems to have a very genuine love for these creatures.

  4. #4
    Gold Member autumn's Avatar
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    Oct 2009


    Quote Originally Posted by Honey View Post
    AMAZING picture! that david has the best job!

  5. #5
    Elite Member PoisonGirl's Avatar
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    Aug 2009
    In Benedict Cumberbatch's Velvet Tuxedo, USA


    Beautiful photos!
    “You never know what's around the corner. It could be everything. Or it could be nothing. You keep putting one foot in front of the other, and then one day you look back and you've climbed a mountain.” - Tom Hiddleston

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