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Penguin Project Diary – Entry 5

Sep 21 2012
by NEW Zoo Education Dept

Today in Peru it was a bit misty and cooler than it has been. The guano was sticky, like the red clay at home, and built up on the bottom of my shoes.

The nearby cormorants were doing a lot more of their mating dance today – crossing beaks, twisting their necks and rubbing them together, bobbing up and down. They were neat to watch! Hopefully the guano workers finish up in the cormorant colony area soon so that the birds can get more into nesting mode!

It is really an incredible sight to see the cormorant colony take off to feed out at sea every day! The colony is around 200,000 to 250,000 birds.  One moment, they will all be hanging around resting, looking for mates and doing other bird things, and then, around the same time every day, some will start to surge toward the same spot on the cliff edge, where they run to and jump off and fly out.

As the first ones soar up and away, more keep moving forward to take their place in line, in order, to move to the cliff edge and take off, so that there is a continuous stream of birds taking flight. The birds near the back of the colony continue to sleep until it is their turn to move up and jump off the cliff. They all fly in the same direction, out to sea to feed. Sometimes, they stop closer to the coast and you can see them circling over a spot in the ocean, diving for food, so you know that there is a very large school of fish in that area!

Tonight, back at the field station, we are skipping meetings and having a relaxing movie night! So adiós for now!

-Jessica