R is for Rockhopper Penguin
Rockhopper penguins are not like other penguins – they live on rocky, inhospitable places, mainly around the antarctic, so inhospitable these penguins have no land predators. Here is a wonderful picture of one by Robert Orr:
As well as being the kookiest-looking penguin, their behaviour is different. They do not slide around the place on icy floes, and neither do they do the famous penguin waddle – they BOUND around the rocky outcrops they live on, on their pink feet.
What is more, although they live and nest together in large, noisy colonies, they show none of the cooperation evident in other penguin species – they are quite aggressive with each other and will peck at anything at all that comes near them. But they are gentle with their partners.
They are small penguins, about 50 cm tall, and return to the same nesting places, and nests, and usually the same partner year after year – perhaps having fought for the right mate, they like to keep them!
Like all penguins they swim brilliantly, usually in the shallow seas around their home – but they can dive quite deeply to get their food of krill, squid and small fish (although they are happy to eat anything if food is scarce). However, out in the sea they are prey for seals and sharks.
They were the among the most numerous of penguins – but scientists estimate that their population has declined over the last 30 years by 30%, Eastern rockhoppers possibly due to commercial overfishing and pollution, Northern rockhoppers definitely due to fishing with gill-nets, and egging. Now the Southern rockhopper has been classed as Vulnerable, and the Northern rockhopper classed as Endangered by the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species.
Here’s their poem (title courtesy of Durbad @ https://durbadhyani.wordpress.com/):
red eyes and bill,
a pink-foot bound,
to slide around,
which we defend,
a noisy throng,
© Liz Brownlee
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Prose and Poem © Liz Brownlee, all rights reserved not to be used in any manner whatsoever without the permission of the author.