5:00 am

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St. Andrews is home to one of the largest king penguin colonies, and the largest on South Georgia. At this time of year, we can estimate that there are over a million penguins here (though in Dec/Jan, there are almost twice as many). King penguins don't have a set breeding period and tend to breed twice every 3 years. Their reproductive cycle is breed, lay an egg, both mom and dad incubate the egg for about 55 days (each taking 2-week turns, sometimes shorter), egg hatches, and mom and dad feed the young for almost a year. (Most penguins are monogamous, but the kings have about an 80% "divorce" rate, scientists think due to having such a long breeding cycle and not wanting to wait around for the same mate to arrive.) This time of year, "single" penguins come to shore, molt, court, breed, lay and incubate an egg, and then feed the young continuously until about April; by then, the young penguin is pretty much the size of an adult, but over winter (April/May-Sept/Oct), the young fast and lose a bit of weight until the spring arrives and mom and dad bring food back on a regular basis again. Once the young are almost a year old, they molt their brown downy coats.

While the sun was out, the weather was pleasant (still cold), but the sun was warm on my face and the sky was clear. Then the clouds rolled in, the temp seemed to drop, and the wind got up. That didn't stop me from sitting atop a hill overlooking the colony for almost 2 hours.

Top photo: The golden, glowing oakum boys
Middle photo: Kings lined up to the glacier
Bottom photo: Me and the kings :-)

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