The Penguin Shower
Jan 20th - 21st
Have you ever seen a penguin taking a shower? I have!
Saunders Island took us only 10 minutes from Pebble Island by the local fight, and we've been lucky yet again! 2 beds miraculously became free at 'The Rookery', a little self-catering hut between the beach and the colony, so we snapped them up. Ursula had been raving about this place so my expectations were high. But I hadn't realised our walk would take us past hundreds of black-browed albatrosses...
... how huge and beautiful these birds actually are, how magnificent it is to see them riding the wind with such grace and power... and how charmingly quirky are their babies. The fuzzy little albatrosses stretch tall in their bowl-like nests, eye you and make chopping sounds with their beaks as you pass.
Nor had I envisaged the dramatic setting of this particular highlight. The rockhopper colony spreads over a natural amphitheatre in the hillside and the penguins navigate a series of stepped rocks and plateaus to the shower - a cascade of water over a jutting ledge - between their home and the sea.
Some take a shower on their way up, some on their way down. Some reckon they're clean enough and so don't bother. Many wait patiently for their turn. Others squabble, queue-jump and boot any slow-coaches out of the way. This particular guy was vigorous in his ablutions, scrubbing, scratching and shaking in turns.
It was hard to pull ourselves away, but eventually we clambered back up the rocks, apologising to disgruntled albatrosses as we edged past.
The evening was overcast with a fine drizzle in the air, but there was still much to enjoy. Down by the beach crazy gentoo food-chases were taking place, then came a comedy of squawking and flipper-slapping by a pair of magellanic chicks who were desperate for their tea. We sighted an orca out at sea, and rafts of penguins floated on the waves.
Today has been one of the best, but the forecast is fine for tomorrow, and the place is apparently yet more amazing.
I can't wait!