BirdLife: The Magazine September 2017 - Page 62

PORTFOLIO NOISY NEIGHBOUR BLUE-EYED SCAVENGER The ice-blue eye of a Northern Giant Petrel Macronectes halli stands out against its crimson feathers, dyed red with the blood of a stricken elephant seal pup. It looks like a scene from a horror movie, and it may be gruesome but this bird plays an important role in preventing disease by clearing up carcasses from the beaches. WAITING ON THE EDGE OF THE WORLD A Grey-headed Albatross chick Thalassarche chrysostoma waits patiently for its next meal to arrive whilst guarded by its other parent in one of the rapidly diminishing colonies on Bird Island, South Georgia. Although these birds can live in excess of 50 years, they are now classified as Endangered on the IUCN Red List due to massive population declines over the last century. These birds are truly ocean wanderers taking as little as 46 days to circumnavigate the globe. A Brown Skua Catharacta antarctica throws back its wings and screeches raucously claiming the beach as its territory. Skuas are true opportunists and hugely intelligent birds. They wait around penguin colonies watching diligently for any eggs or young chicks that are momentarily unattended before swooping in and grabbing them. They’ve even been seen working in pairs to steal eggs from under Northern Giant Petrel Macronectes halli, a much bigger and more formidable species. FISH TALES In the early evening a lone Yellow-eyed Penguin Megadyptes antipodes comes ashore on a remote beach on New Zealand’s South Island after a day’s fishing. It pauses on the beach to call out, exposing the barbs in its mouth that helps it swallow fish more easily as it feeds at sea. It gets no response, which isn’t surprising as habitat degradation and invasive predators ensure it remains one of the most Endangered penguin species on earth. Thanks to your generosity, our Protect A Penguin campaign has managed to raise £39,000 so far, which will help us and our Partners work to combat the threats penguins face worldwide — head to penguin.birdlife.org for more.