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Jackass Penguin Colony

Jackass Penguin Colony
Photo Information
Copyright: Alan Kolnik (Alan_Kolnik) Gold Star Critiquer/Silver Workshop Editor/Gold Note Writer [C: 236 W: 38 N: 343] (2616)
Genre: Animals
Medium: Color
Date Taken: 2003-07-17
Categories: Birds
Camera: Nikon coolpix 995
Exposure: f/5.3
Photo Version: Original Version, Workshop
Theme(s): Penguins (Spheniscidae) [view contributor(s)]
Date Submitted: 2004-12-05 14:23
Viewed: 9005
Points: 11
[Note Guidelines] Photographer's Note
This colony of Jackass Penguins has established itself at a place called "The Boulders" outside Simonstown and Seaforth near Cape Town. They were given their name because they supposedly make a sound like a donkey braying, though we never heard them make any noise while we visited.

If you look at the picture carefully, you will see that we were there just as the new generation of young penguins was shedding its baby fur or feathers for the adult coat, and almost every adult penguin is accompanied by a young penguin. They were sitting in little hollow nests scooped out of the seashore, with some sticks in the hollow - perhaps that keeps them drier, or they like decorating!

As far as we could tell, the penguins seemed to move around as couples, with occasionally a third penguin hovering nearby, perhaps a young male hoping to swoop in and capture the female. We saw one very funny scene where the mate of one of the penguins sitting in the nest came back to the nest with a stick that apparently did not meet the aesthetic scene of the bird on the nest. She (or he) hopped off the nest, and roundly whacked the unfortunate stick-bearer with her wings till he got the message and went away to find a better stick. It is also funny to see whole groups of penguins suddenly head to the sea to go fishing like a group of people in tuxedos dashing into the water.

The fishy smell in the area is incredibly strong.


"The jackass penguin, a flightless seabird, is found nowhere in the world except off the coast of southern Africa, i.e. it is endemic to this area. It breeds on 24 offshore islands between Namibia and Port Elizabeth. Additional colonies were established in the 1980s on the mainland at Betty's Bay and Simonstown. There is also a colony on the mainland of Namibia, although it is not known when this colony was established. Nesting on the mainland is unusual for jackass penguins because they are ground-nesting birds and are vulnerable to the many predators on the mainland.

Jackass penguins used to nest by burrowing into guano (bird droppings which have accumulated into a hardish substance, sometimes several metres deep). Most of the nutrient-rich guano was removed for fertiliser in the 19th century. Penguins now nest in burrows in sand, under overhanging rocks, under bushes, or even in the open. Jackass penguins can breed at any time of the year, usually laying two eggs. Most adult birds feed during the day and the chicks are fed regurgitated food in the late afternoon. The parent birds take turns in guarding the nest site and catching food. Fish eaten include sardine, maasbanker and anchovy. Squid are also eaten."

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ThreadThread Starter Messages Updated
Nestswinterpalace 1 12-15 01:44
To mogens-j: Thing in the cornerAlan_Kolnik 1 12-05 16:03
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Critiques [Translate]

Interesting picture with all the pequins Alan but I would clone out the ugly industrial thing in the upper left corner. Very informative note.

The focus is soft and I would have clode-out the house on the upper left corner.

  • Great 
  • japie Gold Star Critiquer/Gold Star Workshop Editor/Gold Note Writer [C: 1814 W: 100 N: 1904] (5187)
  • [2004-12-06 22:48]

Nice post Alan. An this is how I have grown to know these penguins. I agree that you could have cloned out the upper left corner which would have added to the impact of the shot.

Well done and thanks for posting

Good post Alan. The amount of penquins is impressive. I did a little workshop, hope you dont mind. The notes are excellent. Good job

Wow, talking about a protest meeting... Lucky enough, this winter I am heading to lower Patagonia and Tierra del Fuego and hopefully will encounter jackass or magellanic penguin colonies. I would love to spend some time near it and take some shots. If you have a chance see the photos of Art Wolfe, a famous wildlife photographer, he has some most unbelievable images of the penguins, mostly from Antarctica, however but well worth seing as inspiration.

Hi Alan

Interesting nest building, quite different from the penguins in Antarctica



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