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Snares-Crested Penguins

Snares-Crested Penguins
Photo Information
Copyright: James Parker (Jamesp) Gold Star Critiquer/Gold Note Writer [C: 1369 W: 9 N: 6334] (18906)
Genre: Animals
Medium: Color
Date Taken: 2001-01
Categories: Birds
Camera: Canon EOS 1vHS, Canon EF 300mm f2.8 USM IS, Fuji Provia 100
Photo Version: Original Version
Theme(s): Penguins (Spheniscidae) [view contributor(s)]
Date Submitted: 2007-02-28 13:39
Viewed: 6871
Points: 28
[Note Guidelines] Photographer's Note
I uploaded this shot because of its rarity value than quality. The Snares-Crested penguin is a difficult penguin to see. They are not found on Stewart Island, but 200km further south. I visited the islands on the return leg of a trip to the Ross Ice Shelf in Antarctica.

This is probably the best shot of the 90 or so I took. The shot is a scanned slide and the conditions when I took the shot were far from ideal - namely under cloudy conditions (it had just stopped raining) and hand hand-held from a zodiac with a 2m swell (my camera and lense were OK - I got rather wet).

The Snares Islands form part of the World Heritage New Zealand Sub-Antarctic Islands. Landing is prohibited - you would sprain your ankle or break your leg anyway, what soil there is is riddled with petrel nests.

The Snares crested penguin stands about 40cm and weighs around 3 kilograms. It is very similar to to the Fiordland crested penguin, with which it can be easily confused, particularly at sea.
The head, throat and upperparts are black, and underparts are white. The sulphur-yellow crest starts at the base of the bill, extends over the eye, and droops down the back of the head. The bill is very robust, particularly in the male, and the prominent area of bare skin at its base helps distinguish the Snares from the Fiordland penguin. The Snares may also have some white cheek feathers, however this occurs only in a few individuals, and they do not form lines as in the Fiordland penguin. The eye is red, but not as bright as seen in the Rockhopper. Sexes alike, but male is slightly larger and with a heavier bill. Fledglings have pale chins and short crests.
The Snares crested penguin only breeds on the small Snares Islands (totalling 341 ha). The islands are mostly covered in a forest of the tree daisies Olearia lyalli and Brachyglottis stewartiae. The penguins nest in dense colonies of up to 1500 pairs, usually with part of the colony under vegetation. Because their activity kills the trees and shrubs around them, the colonies slowly move to adjacent vegetated areas and old areas quickly revegetate.
The population is currently estimated to be 30,000 breeding pairs (2000 breeding season).

Watershed, pauljk, Adanac, SelenE, lovenature, paulsballs, Aramok, Dan, delic, vizion has marked this note useful
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Critiques [Translate]

From your perspective this is a pretty good shot and too bad you couldn't of shot on a more solid ground instead from a zodiac. I had the same issue down in Peru trying to photograph the Humboldt penguins(very rocky boat). These guys look very similiar to rockhoppers and macaroni penguins with their yellow tufts. I like this environment image with the kelp and all. :)

Hi James,
Very nice shot and excellente note. Nicely composed and great colours. Well done and TFS.
Regards, stéph

Hi James,
Excellent post including the note. Indeed this is a very rare image...I'm not too sure I've even seen a posting located on Stewart Island. This is one place in NZ I haven't been and need to visit. Giving the conditions and the speed of film you used I thin this iage stands up well. Good overall activity in the scene with a central focus on the FG bird. Colour is good. I appreciate it is very hard to make a strong composition of such a scene let alone without a 2m swell to contend with.

  • Great 
  • Adanac Gold Star Critiquer/Gold Note Writer [C: 1273 W: 1 N: 6188] (21378)
  • [2007-02-28 14:28]

Hello James,
Great composition, I love the penguins being shown in thier natural surroundings. The capture is very well done especially considering all the difficulties you had to overcome. Your note is very well done also, thanks James.

ils sont magnifiques ces pinguoins
belles couleurs,
j'aime beaucoup

great picture, I can look at it for very long time. TFS Ori

  • Great 
  • SelenE Gold Star Critiquer/Gold Star Workshop Editor/Gold Note Writer [C: 2249 W: 65 N: 4205] (13972)
  • [2007-02-28 16:19]

Hi James,
Precious shot. I liked the composition and the background consisting of blurred Snares-crested penguins. TFS

Hello James
Another great capture of Penguins! I love the texture and colours of the Kelp, it really adds so much to the mood of the moment. I think Penguins are amazing little animals which live and breed is such harsh areas. I know there are a few species that are endangered. Keep uploading your photos, I think they are just great.

G'day James
I like your notes and find all to be very usefull and interesting.
As for the capture, for the conditions I give you a thumbs up, but maybe a little help in shadows and highlites may bring out a little more detail.
TFS regards Paul

Whether you think it is a good shot or not, as you say, it is the rarity that counts and it is exactly what TN is about. Given the conditions you decribe, I think you did very well to get one decent shot (as you say).

Great scan by the way and thanks for sharing it with us and for the interesting notes.


  • Great 
  • Dan Gold Star Critiquer [C: 113 W: 0 N: 2] (18)
  • [2007-03-01 7:27]

Hi James,
Is a valuable photo. Is a big difference between shoting in extreme lower condition and photos made in a garden. For that I give you 10 point!

  • Great 
  • delic Gold Star Critiquer [C: 440 W: 6 N: 310] (898)
  • [2007-03-04 3:59]

Excellent and rare indeed, James. I like the way the heads are leaned back. Wish there was some more depth of field. But given the conditions you described, this is superb! Perhaps you can share some more...

Hi James,

Considering the conditions this is turned out pretty well. Isn't it frustrating to take 90 and get almost one!? You are correct, my husband couldn't have withstood the stress of taking his f2.8 300mm lens on a Zodiac in turbulent salt water! The foremost penguin and the sea weed are wonderful.

Evelynn : )

Hi James,

You did a very good job to realise a photo taken by hand-held from a zodiac with a 2m swell. POV and BG are great. And don't forget the colours of that animals. Wonderful. Regards and TFS Bob

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