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Antarctica, part 3. Antarctica Rocks!


Antarctica rocks… The penguins would agree, but join me for one last visit to the snowy continent to see what this really means for the birds. 

Thank you for journeying to the seven continents to celebrate nature with me

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Antarctica_rocks-2Adelie Penguin retrieving a rock from the snow

A lone penguin spots a rock peeking out from under the snow.  It lowers its head and inspects the stone at eye level. Not too big. Not too small. Approving, it secures the rock in its beak and tugs this treasure from its snowy blanket. The penguin looks right, looks left, then lifts its wings to the sides for balance and half wobbles, half slides down the hill.

Adelie Penguin carrying a rock through the colony

It grips its rock more tightly as it reaches the pink-stained snow, colored by hundreds and thousands of krill-laden poop squirts, a not so subtle indication of the colony’s edge. A penguin at a nearby nest adds to the pink, then squawks at the rock-bearing penguin. Another penguin stretches out for a nip. The rock-toting penguin swerves aside and scurries forward. It dodges another nest, avoids another nip and continues through a jostling maze of potential rock thieves. One penguin gives chase, another gives a healthy wing slap. The penguin rushes on, gripping its rock as if it were a diamond.

The penguin sees its partner ahead, nestled belly-down in the snow. It slows its pace. It stoops. It gently places the rock in front of its partner. The partner coos, grasps the prize in her beak and tucks it safely into the nest below her. The rock presenter puffs his chest and gives his partner a gentle wing tap.

Adelie Penguin presents a rock to its nest-tending mate

At the next nest over, slapping sounds erupt. The penguin tending this nest cringes under the pummeling blows of two penguins towering above, one on either side. The nesting bird holds its ground, but the standing penguins flail their wings in a gang-style beating, smacking relentlessly.

Rockhopper penguin beating a nest-tending penguin to steal rocks

The prostrate penguin twists to nip at one of its attackers and the other leans in to steal a rock. As the defending bird turns to rescue the stolen nest material, the other attacker plucks a rock from the other side. The thieves scatter in opposite directions while the hapless resident rearranges its nest with its bill, nudging the remaining rocks into a tighter core.

Adelie Penguin pulls a gifted rock into its nest

The attackers prove to be neighbors and with as much tenderness as they’d just displayed violence, they proffer their stolen goods to their nest-tending partners. The partners pluck the gifts from the snow and add them to their nests without remorse. Source is not to be questioned in a land of boundless snow and limited rocks.

Adelie Penguin on its nest

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To read the other posts in this series, please click on this link.


Images (8)
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  • Antarctica_rocks-5
  • Antarctica_rocks-6
  • Antarctica_rocks-7
  • Antarctica_rocks-8

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Comments (2)

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Hi Kirsten,
Behind in my emails, but did want you to know that the last of your series on Celebrating Nature went live today.
I want to personally thank you so very much for sharing your tremendous talents with our audience.  I enjoyed reading -- and learned a lot  -- from your posts and greatly enjoyed your wonderful photography!   I'm sure many others did, too.
If you have more material you'd like to post on TravelGumbo in the coming months, it would be our pleasure to host it.
Hope you had a wonderful Thanksgiving and wishing you all the best in the upcoming holiday season.
Best to you from

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Subject: Post By Kirsten Hines: Antarctica, part 3. Antarctica Rocks!

Post By Kirsten Hines: Antarctica, part 3. Antarctica Rocks!== To reply by email, write above this line. == Hello, DrFumblefinger: We're sending you this notification because you are following the blog and/or author below. New Blog Post
| Title: Antarctica, part 3. Antarctica Rocks! By: Kirsten Hines Collection(s): Adventure Travel , Antarctica , Destinations , Nature | |

Kirsten Hines concludes her "Celebrating Nature on 7 Continents" series with this final installment in Antarctica. We look at the dollar currency of penguins, rocks used in constructing their nests.   This post contains 8 photos. View This Blog Post TravelGumbo To adjust your email notifications for this site, please update your notification settings. To suspend ALL email notifications from this site, click here. Powered By © 2013-15 TravelGumbo LLP
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