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   Image courtesy of Jean Pennycook

From: Jean Pennycook
Cape Royds, Antarctica, February 6, 2006

Test the Water

Adelie chicks are completing the molting process. It is time for them to test the strength of their wings against the strength of the waves. Many of the groups have wandered down to the beach area and we watch as they allow the water to come up to their feet. In the top picture you can see a group of fledging chicks, tuffs of downy feathers still visible on their heads and backs, cautiously walking the beach. In the bottom picture you see the waves as they catch the chicks and carry them out to sea. Sometimes the chicks come swimming back, not quite ready to take the plunge; others do not return having made the transition to adulthood, swimming out to sea as they look for food. If they are banded we will look for them next year, if not, we will never know what has happened to them.

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Postcards from the Field: Antarctica

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