These gentoo nests are spaced
out in a way that nearly all penguin nests are spaced out, at just
over two "attack lengths" apart. If a penguin sitting on its nest
can get a peck at a nearby or passing penguin, then it will usually
do so. The resulting spacing is that penguins sitting on adjacent
nests are just that bit too far away to reach each other, so neither
feels immediately threatened and peace ensues. It reminds me of
House of Commons in the English Parliament where the government
and opposition benches are situated just over two sword lengths
apart, should the honourable gentlemen have decided to circumvent
the electorate in the days when that sort of thing went on.
The down side of this arrangement
is that when a penguin wants to leave the nest to go fishing, or
if it's coming back from fishing, it becomes in range of both beaks
from the adjacent nests when walking through the colony. So for
the time from arrival at the colony in the spring to when the chicks
have grown up a bit and hang around off the nest in "creches", coming
and going can be quite painful for these hardy birds.
Photo; © Paul Ward - Pentax equipment,
100mm lens, 35mm film, K64.
This picture may not be copied
or used in any manner without prior written permission.