Lou Sanson, the head of the New Zealand Antarctic Program arranged for Murphy, Lars, Tom, Tim, Johannes and me to stay at the Cape Bird Hut for 2 nights.
What a magical 2 days!!
We arrived at the Hut, which was quite luxurious, featuring a full kitchen with Stove so I was able to cook for everyone for 2 days. Water is collected by melting snow and the toilet is equipped with a Pee hole and a Poo hole and a place to put the paper. Upon leaving the Hut, everything needs to be taken away including the dirty water from the dishes, paper, food, pee and poo.
Cape Bird is situated on the sea ice with bands of open water... an ideal location for Penguin Colonies.
The Adélie Penguins come every year to make their nests, lay their eggs, and raise their chicks until they are strong enough to be on their own.
There are several colonies scattered on the rocks in Cape Bird. The number reaches 30,000 by the time all of the Adélies have arrived. At this time the male penguins are busy building nests for the female penguins. The nests are comprised of small stones arranged in a concave circle. It is hard work for the male penguins. They have to find the correct stones and make an attractive nest so that the female will agree to lay her eggs in his nest. Each male has to make sure that another male does not steal some of his stones. The male and female Adélies are always on the look out for a thief.
Once the nest is built the male sits in the nest and waits for a female to come to his nest so they can mate.
The female Adélies are still out in the water, so the male Adélie calls out to lure a female to come to his nest. It helps if the nest is well built!! We are not sure if Human beings mimic these penguins or the penguins mimic human beings... But most females like a good provider!
The sound of their calls fills the air.
We watched a line of Adélies out on the sea ice, trying to get to the land. They waited for an hour before the first one went in. "Were there Leopard Seals in the water?"(natural predator). Not yet, but they were not sure. There is always a sacrificial penguin. The Leopard seal will eat just one, so it is a good sacrifice.
One brave penguin led the pack and they all followed coming over the mounds of sea ice snow.
I felt like I was watching a Disney Movie!
Once the couples are paired off and mate, the female will sit on the nest until she lays 2 eggs (approximately 3 days).
After the eggs are laid, male and female Adélies will alternate sitting on the eggs until the chicks are hatched. (Mid January). While one is sitting on the nest, the other goes out for food. Shared responsibility in bringing up the chick!
The Adélies change the shape of their head according to their mood.
We then explored the area and found an amazing Glacier.
The sky is forever changing from the frozen droplets that lace the air.
This is Antarctica!!!!!