King Penguins

At 96cm tall, the King Penguin is the largest and most recognisable of the five penguin species found on the Falkland Islands.  As a resident breeding penguin it was very rare by 1870, but due to conservation over the past 50 years it has increased in numbers.  The best place to see this handsome bird is at Volunteer Point which is a relatively short car journey from Stanley and is now a national nature reserve.

King Penguins can often be found in very small numbers on many of the islands as young birds come ashore after fishing trips, we saw two Kings on Sea Lion Island resting in the dunes.  The young birds live ashore for the first year of their lives before shedding their brown fur "teddy bear" fur which protects them for their first winter.  They then go to sea for four or five years before coming ashore to breed each spring.  It can take several years for a small number of penguins to start to rise in population but after about ten years they are in full cycle and the numbers then start to increase.  This has happened on Saunders Island where the small colony has risen to between 30 and 40 and is beginning to rise each year as the number of birds of breeding age rises.  

Due to the vast colony of King penguins at South Georgia, the King Penguin is not in population danger.  However there are not many colonies of Kings in the Falklands and visitors are asked to not approach nearer than 20 metres from the Kings, but as you sit quietly and watch them this will often result in the penguins coming a lot closer to you.  Sometimes they come up to one or two metres from you and are very inquisitive birds.  Indeed when you then walk off along the beach, they will often then follow you.