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Part 6: Wilderness Beyond – Penguins Galore!

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20160101_070459This year is for the birds!

Welcome back to the Wilderness Beyond series. On the first morning of 2016, we spent some quality time with a bunch of waddling feathered Magellanic Penguins doing what penguins do on Magdalena Island in the Straits of Magellan, Chile. The island and the bird are named for the explorer, Ferdinand Magellan.

A whole lot of honkin’ goin’ on

This, our last island stop from the Via Australis cruise ship, is a protected home for more than 120,000 (yes, that’s one-hundred and twenty thousand) penguins living it up in their own colony created and maintained by the government of Chile.

Their honking noise, emanating from deep in their belly and seeming to come up through their throats like a volcanic burst of hollering, is a combination of a donkey bray and someone blowing their nose. It is, in fact, their attention-getting mating call. “Where are you, my future mate? Come over and see the lovely hole in the ground I’ve prepared for our abode. We can lay eggs and stay protected and warm. I’ve even got a flat-screen TV!”

The Magellanic Penguins

These birds sport a unique tuxedo. “The Magellanic penguin (Spheniscus magellanicus) is named in honour of the maritime explorer Ferdinand Magellan, who first recorded it during an expedition in 1519. A medium-sized penguin, this species can be identified by the distinctive white bands which loop over the eye, down the side of the neck and meet at the throat.” Visit: Magellanic Penguins. We saw young and old ones everywhere. The ones without distinctive markings yet were juveniles born not too long before we arrived.

The lighthouse

Well, truth be told—I was a little hungover from the previous night’s New Year’s Eve party on ship, so this bird fest visit was a wake up call if there ever was one!

Cautiously, so as to not step on any little feathered critter, we hiked up the hill and surveyed the land, sea, sky, and fellow creatures – sea gulls and penguins sharing the commune. Inside the lighthouse was an exhibit about the engineer, George Slight, responsible for the Chilean lighthouse system. It’s a good thing those islands have those lighthouses. Even with GPS nowadays, no doubt a little light on the subject helps!

What I thought about

Through the camera lens, something not lost on me was how birds of a feather flock/walk/stick together and often, when necessary, order themselves to reach a goal. We may have been on an island, but no bird or man really IS an island. Two photos below captured my reflections in a way that words just can’t seem to do. At least not today.

So, enjoy the slideshow. As usual, click the first one to begin.

See you next time!


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One Response

  1. Roz
    | Reply

    Wonderful. Loved the pictures.

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