A Gentoo Penguin portrait, Pygoscelis papua, on the pebble beach on Macquarie Island, possession of Australia in the Southern Ocean.
The gentoo penguin is easily recognized by the wide white stripe extending like a bonnet across the top of its head and its bright orange-red bill. They have orange webbed feet and a fairly long tail – the most prominent tail of all penguins. Chicks have grey backs with white fronts. As the Gentoo penguin waddles along on land, its tail sticks out behind, sweeping from side to side, hence the scientific name Pygoscelis, which means “rump-tailed”.
Gentoos breed on many sub-Antarctic islands. The main colonies are on the Falkland Islands, South Georgia and Kerguelen Islands; smaller populations are found on Macquarie Island, Heard Islands, South Shetland Islands and the Antarctic Peninsula. The total breeding population is estimated to be over 300,000 pairs. Nests are usually made from a roughly circular pile of stones and can be quite large, 20 cm high and 25 cm in diameter. The stones are jealously guarded and their ownership can be the subject of noisy disputes between individual penguins. They are also prized by the females, even to the point that a male penguin can obtain the favors of a female by offering her a nice stone.
Macquarie Island is World Heritage Listed.
Canon EOS, zoom lens.
(Featured in The World as we See it, or as we Missed it.)