Tuesday, February 1, 2011

March of the penguins... straight into the shower for a quick wash and brush-up

Cooling off: a Rockhopper penguin enjoys a shower underneath a freshwater spring on Saunders Island in the Falkland Islands

The midday sun might not burn quite so ferociously upon the Falkland Islands, but penguins are used to life in a cold climate.

So there's often a queue for the freshwater spring shower to be found on Saunders Island which offers the chance to cool off and clean up at the same time.

These delightful pictures show the clearly hygiene conscious Rockhopper penguins waddling in from their coastal colonies for an envigorating rinse..

Brothers Will and Matt Burrard-Lucas travelled from London to take pictures of albatrosses, but quickly became distracted by the irresistible antics of the amusing troop of quirky penguins.

'The penguins were incredibly cute,' said 27-year-old Will.

'They were wonderful to watch, as they clearly seemed to be enjoying themselves.
'They would often squabble for the best spot under the water.

'We could have spent the entire trip watching the penguins frolicking in the water!'
The Rockhopper Penguins form colonies of up to 100,000 in the Antarctic summer when they come ashore to lay eggs and raise their chicks.

Form an orderly queue: The facility is extremely popular among the penguin colony - often leading to little disagreements

Drinking in the joys: Rockhopper penguins are the smallest of the species on the Falklands Islands at just 60cm but have the shower to themselves

'Along the main route between the penguin colony and the sea is this fresh water spring with a small waterfall,' said Will.

'This was an irresistible attraction for the penguins and throughout the day it was busy with squawking, squabbling, splashing birds.

'If you are quiet and don't make any sudden movements, the penguins will come right up to you and peck your shoelaces.

'On one occasion the curious little penguins hopped 50 metres a hill to come and check us out.

'They had no fear and we often saw them hoping up and down extremely steep rock faces.

Hi guys: William Burrard-Lucas makes friends with the penguins - although he and his brother had originally travelled south to film albatrosses

'We also watched in shock as they hurled themselves off rocks into tumultuous crashing waves!

'They love to splash and drink the cool clean water while washing salt water and dirt from their feathers.'

The brazen birds have no fear of humans thanks to a lack of predators on the islands and as these photographs show they will come within inches to inspect the strange photographers in their midst.

Rockhopper Penguins are the smallest of penguins of the Falkland Islands.
The islands are one of the most important locations for the species, which are classified as vulnerable worldwide by Birdlife International.

There are 210,400 pairs of Rockhoppers recorded as living on the island.
They grow to only 60 cm tall and live mainly from squid and lobster krill.

source: dailymail

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