Blue Eyed Shag - Parent and Chicks on Nest
This pair have arrived on their nesting site on a sub-Antarctic island as the last of the winter ice is breaking out. Blue eyed shags are not birds of the ice, usually staying out of the way of sea-ice. They are unique in Antarctic and sub-Antarctic birds in that they will maintain a nest year-round where the sea remains ice-free. They never venture far from their nest site out to sea and because of this were welcomed by the early explorers and sealers who were looking for isolated areas of land in the vast sea-scape of the southern ocean.
Shag chicks are unique amongst Antarctic birds in that they have the only chicks that are born naked with no down. This makes them particularly susceptible to bad weather and especially dependent on their parents when very young.
Photo; © Paul Ward - Pictures taken on Signy Island, South Orkneys, Antarctica.