By Josh Saunders
The magical moments of penguin parenthood have been captured in family p-p-portraits – from egg insulation to the chick’s first glimpses of the world.
Derek Pettersson, 56, spent the past week documenting them King chicks make a break from their captive shells at Volunteer Point, in the Falkland Islands.
The grandfather captured the challenges of King penguin parents, as they rotate keeping the eggs warm to the first signs of a beak emerging and later the dark coloured birds emerging.
After an egg is laid, the parents incubate their future chick for nearly two months with their abdomen, alternating their feeds.
From the first tiny crack in the shell, it can take up to a full day to finally emerge.
Once free the tiny bird will be warmed by its parent’s feet and brood, for its nearly 13-month fledging period while the chick develops feathers.
During this time the patient parents will head out to sea to feed and bring back food their child, a lengthy hunt that can see the chick go without food for up to five months at a time.
Derek, who runs tourist spot Volunteer House, said: “It’s great knowing all their hard work of sitting on an egg for around 55 days has paid off.
“More young will help keep numbers up in the colony.
“It can take more than 24 hours sometimes from when you first see a crack in the egg until the chick emerges.
“I had to visit several times and watch for the cracked eggs to show when the adult checks them.
“It’s a great opportunity to see something very few get to see.
“I like being able to let others get the chance to see it through my photos too.
“Everyone has commented on how wonderful it is to see this happening and think the photographs are great.
“The best time to see this is from early January until late February.”
The shots were taken at Volunteer Point, in the Falkland Islands, where there are believed to be over 1,500 breeding adult king penguins and up to 700 chicks raised each year.
Derek added: “They have no natural predators on land in this area.
“Visitors are asked to stay well back but if they sit down the chicks come right up to investigate.
“As long as the wildlife is respected Volunteer Point is one of the best and easiest accessible places to photograph king penguins.”
For more information visit: www.facebook.com/volunteerhouse