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South American update

Dear PenguinPromises

The penguins have arrived back home after their winter migration to Brazil.
Here in the southern hemisphere we are now into Spring, which is the time of year for the penguins to lay eggs and raise chicks.

Magellanic penguins live to about 30 years of age, but do not begin breeding until they are 5 years old. That is the time when they develop the distinctive black and white lines, which distinguish the adults from juveniles that are still too young to breed. It takes 5 years for the penguins to develop strength and stamina, and to learn how to become experts at catching fish, which is very important for being a good parent. Feeding hungry chicks is very demanding and even the strongest adults loose around one quarter of their body weight during the chick-rearing process.

Our penguin colony lies on the beach along the Straits of Magellan, right on the border between Chile and Argentina. When I began my studies here in 2003 the colony was only in Argentina, but the…
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South American Penguin update

Dear PenguinPromises

The penguins have been enjoying their winter migration. The rest and relaxation should leave Promises fat and healthy ready for the coming season of egg-laying and chick-rearing. More than a million penguins spend their winter migration off the coast of Brazil each year. I attach a photo of the penguins gathered together offshore.

On the beaches in Brazil the people do much the same thing as Promises. They lie around on the beaches resting and enjoying the sunny weather, just like Promises.
Every so often they sit up to eat and drink something, whilst the penguins just dive down under the water to grab a fish. Penguins and people come to Brazil to enjoy the same kind of vacations.

However now it is time for Promises to head back home to the colony. The penguins begin laying eggs in late October or early November, and they have a long journey ahead of them to get home in time for that. They have a journey of about 3,000 kilometers to get back to the colony.


embrace FEELING

The tan man is Draco - an old man, and Rocky (Rockstar), the young Jack Russell.  Two of the menagerie at home. The old man is rickety.  The youngster is the instigator, commentator and likes to think he is in charge.  The old man wants to be cuddled but has given up on competing for attention with the younger dogs.  He takes it from us when we offer it, and appreciates every second we give him.  Sounds like wisdom of the aged.
Being with the young and the old.  Knowing that life is short.  Excited about young puppy magic.  Worrying about old pains and aches and compassionately encouraging the best life.  Ensuring that young exuberance does not turn into chaos.

This is life.
Enter human beings with rules on how to get it right and what is definitely wrong.  We loose ourselves in the process and project our insecurities in our judgements and justifications.  
If we could just remember the moments when we are just being with the dogs.  Being compassionate and grateful.  Then we will re…

amazing penguin South America update

Dear PenguinPromises

By now Promises and friends will be arriving in southern Brazil. Some penguins will remain there during the winter whilst others will continue further north as far as Rio de Janeiro. So while our penguins are away enjoying their winter migration, it seems a good time for me to share with you our research results for the breeding season that has just finished.

The graphs attached might look complicated to people not familiar with graphs, but I will explain it all step by step so it should be easy to follow. I attach three graphs which show breeding success for each of our three study colonies, Cabo Virgenes (Punta Dungeness) in Argentina, Magdalena Island in Chile and the Falkland Islands. During October, after the penguins have laid their eggs, we begin following the progress of our adopted penguins at each site, and that is when each graph begins.

Let me begin by saying that the symbol "%" is the same as the word "percent", and it actually me…

Wild world

No picture.

Just a crazy appreciation that the world is wild and out of control.y. husband staff member held hostage. Gun shot in our neighborhood tonight. Possibility of WiFi at our remote home negligible and do we want it. Listening to a podcast on whether it is more ethical to feed kittens destined for euthanasia because they are homeless or bred rats to pet snakes. Mars has signs of methane and hence life. People starve while humans support fast food outlets that package food in wasteful containers. Passive humans too afraid to stand for anything. Escapism on a screen. Religion and rules all muddled up. Rescued penguins released to get caught in an oil slick after a week in the wild. Bad driver cutting us off on the way home.

A lot of judgement and projection and anxiety.

Big breath. There is goodness inside us. We all know it. I look forward to a time where we pitch forward in a rediscovered a garden of eden. It is within our reach. It is everywhere. Behind picket fences. In z…

love this penguin update from an amazing connected scientists that clearly loves the work

Dear PenguinPromises

The moult is finally over, and now Promises and friends have left the colony and are heading towards Brazil to spend the winter. The colony is now completely abandoned and will remain so until October.

The colony has mild weather during the summer, but in the winter it gets very cold. What is worst for the penguins is that the days get very short and gloomy in winter, and Promises cannot see so well under the water to catch fish.

The nearer to the pole one gets, the greater the difference in daylight between summer and winter. During the early 1990s I worked with sea turtles for the Hawaii Volcanoes National Park. In Hawaii there is only about an hour difference in daylight between summer and winter, because Hawaii is much nearer to the equator than the pole.

Here in the penguin colony we are much closer to the pole than the equator, and the difference between winter and summer is large. We have a difference comparable with northern Alaska or northern Scotland. D…

what is your passion?

Someone asked me what my passion is.  I realised that I had thought I knew, but may have been incorrect.  My passion - I used to say - Animal Behaviour!
The lesson - at some point I had identified with the passion rather than be in awe of it.

Years back I realised that my life force is driven by the concept of 'wonderment'.  A sense of awe and wonder about the mysteries of animal behaviour is where my labelled passion was identified.

On a fabulous run on Durban's ocean promenade, followed by a dip in the amazing Indian Ocean, I realised that 'wonderment' - and experiencing this sensation is in fact my passion.  This is not limited to Animal Behaviour.  Feeling the capacity of what a body can do, and the sensation of the cool ocean after a sweaty run is part of that wonderment.  Noticing a bird on the wing or the glint in a mischievous dolphins eye my experience of wonderment.  Watching fast moving clouds or grass growing through a tar road - that is amazing wonderm…