New Zealand's Sub-Antarctic Islands - 2008

Regardless of size or breed, penguins are raucous and smelly birds. They bray variously but always loudly. Their rookeries are detectable far away from the colonies because of the intense odor of their guano. Perhaps an exclusive diet of seafood will produce that problem? Our Zodiac explorations started off in very bumpy seas that made boarding the little rubber boats quite a challenge. The wonderful able-bodied seaman made it all happen without incident however. There was rain in our faces under overcast skies. We all knew better than to complain however since we had already been told that our weather in this area has been extraordinarily good. Some years the seaside explorations to Snare’s Island are made impossible by the rough and tumble seas! So we happily scrambled aboard the Zodiacs and looked eagerly through the raindrops at the scenes passing by us. Our Snare’s Island circumnavigations were made so entertaining by the funny antics of the penguins we saw there and we were able to get so close to them that we could have touched them had that been permitted. Of course, we were also warned that they are aggressive and could easily snap off a fingertip. So no one tried that trick. We also enjoyed the beauty of the island with its dense forests of daisy trees in partial bloom where tiny little warbler-sized birds were flitting and hopping. We saw the tiny black and white tomtits, the lovely white and elegant Antarctic terns, the interesting fern birds, sooty shearwaters, and the strikingly marked red-billed gulls with their bright white feathers so sharply contrasted with their bright red bills and red feet The Zodiacs maneuvered us deftly into little inlets where we could approach the penguins and watch an injured elephant seal on shore. He had a big gash on his shoulder that appeared to be from fighting, perhaps for a harem of his own. The wound was clean and he could certainly move about so we hope that he will have a good recovery. The penguins on this island have such an awesome journey to undertake at least twice daily. The cliff faces they traverse are incredibly steep and they must get completely up that declivity into the

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