Penguins and Auks

Penguins and Auks Photographed in Pelagic and Coastal Habitat

This seabird1photo album comprises Penguins (Spheniscidae) placed in Order Sphenisciformes and Auks (Alcidae) from the Charadriiformes2 order. The first gallery features portraits of several species and some subspecies from penguin and auk families, while subsequent galleries display some behavioural aspects of these bird families.

Penguins and Auks

Penguin and Auk Notes

Penguins are marine and pelagic birds, mainly in cold waters of Antarctic and subantarctic, the obvious 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 blood streams using salt glands located in their head above the eyes and excrete excess salt from the nostrils. Both these families have less pronounced nostrils than albatrosses and other Procellariiformes with grooves that guide salt excretions from the nostrils to the tip of the bill.

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 little penguin ‘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

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 flotsam 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 penguins3 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 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 entrance to Doubtful Sound and on Monro Beach on the West Coast of New Zealand.

Puffin Behaviour

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.

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1  Refer to Non-Passerine Seabirds, footnote 1 for taxonomic orders that I include in bird classification for seabirds.
2 Both seabirds and waterbirds have families placed in the Charadriiformes order. My waterbird albums include gulls and seven wader (shorebird) families.
3 Handbook of the Birds of the World (HBW) still recognises six subspecies. Rather than six subspecies of little penguin (Eudyptula minor) analysis by Puecker et al. (2009) found two clades: A mostly Australian clade (with some New Zealand birds mostly from Otago and Omaru) and a clade covering the rest of New Zealand.