Late October, 1912: Emperor penguins in Adelie Land

–from Douglas Mawson’s account The Home of the Blizzard

“On October 21 an Emperor penguin landed on the ice in the boat harbor, and, in early November, several more were captured.  As these were the only ones to come ashore at Cape Denison during the year, it is clear that they are infrequent visitors to the shores of Adelie Land. . . .No degree of mere cold appears to inconvenience them, for, as evidenced elsewhere on the Antarctic coast [see The Worst Journey in the World for Cherry-Garrard’s account of his 1911 winter journey to the Emperor rookery at Cape Crozier] favoured with less wind their rookeries have been discovered, they actually choose the winter months as their hatching season.

“There, in the bitterest weather of the year, at temperatures reaching even below ninety degrees of frost they are known to spend weeks standing in snow-drifts or on bare ice keeping their single large egg out of harm’s way on top of their thick muscular feet, with nofurther protection against the weather for that delicate object than a fold of feathers and skin which falls over it.  The wonder is that any of the eggs hatch out at all, for, presumably, if by chance one rolls off the parent’s feet and is left on the iced for a few moments it is irrevocably frozen.”

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