Penguins and Auks
This seabird photo album comprises penguins (Spheniscidae) and auks (Alcidae) photographed in pelagic and coastal habitat. The first gallery features portraits of several species together with some subspecies from penguin and auk families. Subsequent galleries display some behavioural aspects of these bird families.
The galleries contain some digitally scanned images that I captured on slide film.
Penguins and Auks
Penguin and Auk Notes
Penguins are marine and pelagic birds, mainly in cold waters of Antarctic and subantarctic, the exception is the Galapagos penguin. Auks habitat is northern hemisphere marine and pelagic often in found the neritic zone. Both families roam out at sea and only come to land to breed and raise their young. They drink salt-water and filter excess salt from their bloodstreams using salt glands located in their head above the eyes and excrete excess salt from the nostrils. Both these families have less pronounced noses than albatrosses and other Procellariiformes with grooves that guide salt excretions from the nostrils to the tip of the beak.
Red List (2019) of Threatened Species
There are eighteen penguin taxa: Five ‘Endangered’, five ‘Vulnerable’, three ‘Threatened’ and five ‘Least Concern’. Featured ‘Endangered’ species are the yellow-eyed and Galapagos penguins. The Fiordland Penguins is ‘Vulnerable’, and the little penguin is ‘Least Concern’.
Auks with twenty-four taxa fare a little better with around 60% ‘Least Concern’. The featured razorbill is ‘Near Threatened’ and the Atlantic puffin ‘Vulnerable’.
Penguin Behaviour Notes
Male and female yellow-eyed penguins are similar in plumage, although the male is larger. Both share egg incubation and brooding. Our guide identified individuals by name (tagged J18047 and J18094) and at the time of our visit, the female was on the nest and the male returning from fishing at sea. I’ve included an immature that I spotted in the debris at Pilots Beach in New Zealand. I watched this individual for nearly an hour as it made its way to the waters-edge, waited for the right moment and then went for a swim.
Galapagos penguin images Include an adult preening and immature moulting.
The gallery features little penguins photographed at Pilots Beach in New Zealand. There is artificial lighting at Pilots Beach, but images needed capture at ISO 16000 to 25600. This site allows non-flash photography, unlike Philip Island, where they don’t allow cameras. Other common names include a little blue penguin, blue penguin and fairy penguin. The first gallery shows a chick with blue plumage on its face, hence blue in some names.
I photographed the Fiordland penguins on an island at the entrance to Doubtful Sound and Monro Beach on the West Coast of New Zealand.
Puffin Behaviour Notes
In the early nineties, before consumer digital cameras became affordable, I made several trips to stay for a few days on the island of Skomer, which is just off the Pembrokeshire Coast in Wales. Original images are positive slide film, mostly Kodachrome 64, digitally scanned and post-processed.
Penguins and Auks Taxonomy
The waterbirds webpage describes the higher-level taxonomy for these families. J Boyd splits Charadriiformes into five suborders Chionidi, Charadrii, Limicoli, Lari and Turnici (Buttonquail). This album includes just one family Alcidae (penguin and auks) from suborder Lari. The other three Lari families are Dromadidae (crab plover) and Glareolidae (pratincoles) in Waders (Shorebirds) and Laridae in the (Gulls, Terns and Skimmers).
According to Jboyd, the blue penguin is a mostly Australian clade (with some New Zealand birds mostly from Otago and Omaru) and a clade covering the rest of New Zealand. The name; little penguin has been used in Australia for some time, while in New Zealand blue penguin is used. So it makes sense to call them little penguin, Eudyptula novaehollandiae, and blue penguin, Eudyptula minor. Although most checklist still recognises six subspecies including Eudyptula minor (nominate) and Eudyptula minor novaehollandiae rather than raising the Australian clade to full species status.