Macquarie Island: Sandy Bay – Royal Penguins

This was a penguin species I haven’t seen before – as the royal penguins breed only on the Macquarie island and nowhere else on Earth. The total population is about 1 million breeding pairs (so multiply 3x for the actual number of birds). They form very large colonies mostly further up and away from shore, with the largest colony being over half a million breeding pairs and the highest being at 200m of elevation – the penguins make the journey climbing up and down every time they go fishing. The penguins are colorful with bright yellow crest furthers and red beak, they are also very active and noisy and loud – the colony is a cacophony of sound and smell. They make their nests from small rocks and pebbles, and mostly male penguins fight for the right sized rocks to present to their females (and what female doesn’t like a perfect large rock?). While the colony seems haphazard and messy, it’s actually quite organized, with every penguin respecting the boundaries of its nest (kind of like a mini-Manhattan). If one penguin gets lost – he very quickly gets “yelled at” with a lot of penguin 4-letter words and shoved to find his place.