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ZEISS. Discover the fascinating world of birds, and win a birding trip to Columbia

Seeing all the penguin species (1 Viewer)

JTweedie

Well-known member
I have this dream of seeing all 18 species of penguin. Firstly, it's a small number of species so seems to be doable. But it's also a hook to use to visit some amazing places and see the other wildlife at the same time. I haven't seen a wild penguin yet and South Africa seems to be the cheapest option to get the first of the species - the African penguin.

But I looked at the latest trip reports on the Naturetrek website to see how many penguins they've seen. I counted 14 species over six different trips. One trip has seven (Antarctica, the Falklands & South Georgia), another has six (Sub-Antarctic Islands of New Zealand & Australia), one has two (New Zealand), and the other three have one each (Galapagos, Peru, South Africa). Some overlap of species over some trips, but this is the minimum I could find.

I'm sure other companies would do trips to places where the other four species (Emperor, Northern Rockhopper, Snares, Erect-crested) may be seen, but these all seem to be on particularly remote places that might need more specialised trips. An expensive dream.

Anyone seen them all or a fair number of them?
 
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Mike C

Emeritus President at Burnage Rugby Club
3 species of penguin in New Zealand
2 endemic
Fiordland penguin (Eudyptes pachyrhynchus)
Yellow-eyed penguin (Megadyptes antipodes)
plus
Little blue penguin (Eudyptula minor)

Yellow-eyed and Little blue are very easy to see - I’ve seen both twice on general touristy holidays.
Fiordland required a special trip and timing which I didn’t have at the times I was in New Zealand.

Penguin ticking is the dream which accompanies a decent lottery win.
 

opisska

Jan Ebr
Czech Republic
I have seen four, all were very easy, no expensive tours needed - Little in Tasmania basically in a city, with free local guiding, African in Namibia on an island near Luderitz, visible from the shore near town, Humboldt on Islas Ballestas in Peru from a mass tourist boat for a couple dozen bucks and Magellanic on Argentinean coast - that required some 20 kms of walking, but just because we were too cheap to rent a car :) I have notes that three more species are doable on or close to Patagonian mainland - Rockhopper, King and Gentoo - I actually hoped to see them last austral summer but then covid cancelled the one of the best trips I ever had planned ... I don't think any other species can be seen easily in South America, Africa or Australia, so combined with the above intel for New Zealand, which mentions two more species there , it seems to me that for 9 species you actually need a tour to Antarctica?
 

Andy Adcock

Well-known member
England
Emperor s an expensive one, usually requiring an expensive cruise, deep in to the Antarctic. There use to be a trip that ran on an old, Russian icebreaker which isn't operating in the area anymore, IIRC, cost was c£25K and that was in the 90's.
 
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opisska

Jan Ebr
Czech Republic
25K GBP per the entire icebreaker or per person? :) I have deep fears that the latter is true and in that case, simply wow ...

edit: checking the ebird recorde, it's clearly possible to twitch it in Patagonia, you just need to live in the area for a decade or so :) Also there are many sightings from the seas all around the Antarctic Peninsula, so they can probably be met outside of their breeding grounds, but it's clearly a matter of luck.
 

SlowLowFlyingTurkey

Well-known member
I did a Galapagos trip in 2010 and a couple on the cruise completed the full set with Galapagos Penguin. It seemed liked the hardest ones were the New Zealand sub-Antarctic island species. Some tour companies do a cruise of these islands which is very expensive and can be hard going - the people I met were confined to their cabin for most of the tour due to rough seas.

Personally I've seen five species, all on easy tourist day trips (apart from the Galapagos):
Little Blue at the Philip Island Penguin Parade (Aus.) and then at various other places in Aus. and NZ.
Yellow-eyed on the standard day tour of Otago Peninsula from Dunedin, NZ (including the Northern Royal Albatross colony).
Galapagos Penguin on the Galapagos
Humboldt on a day trip to Ballestas Islands from Paracas, Peru.
Magellanic on day tours around Valdes Peninsula and then at the Punta Tombo colony (also good for Chubut Steamer-duck), both from Puerto Madryn, Argentina.

Fjordland Penguin is also regular on the standard tourist cruises of Milford Sound, NZ but I didn't see any.
 

DMW

Well-known member
Seeing all the penguins was simply a function of having enough money; now it's also a question of whether the cruise industry will ever operate again as before.

The two really expensive ones are Emperor and Royal. You might get lucky and see an Emp on a regular Antarctic cruise, but to be certain you need to go on an expedition cruise that visits a rookery, which start around £10k. As far as I know, Royal is only accessible on the Heritage sub-Antarctic NZ cruise.

One good bang for buck option is to do a cheap cruise from Buenos Aires to Santiago via the Antarctic Peninsula and Falklands.
 

JTweedie

Well-known member
I've seen the trips to Ross Island to see the Emperors. Most set off from Australia and include a visit to Scott's hut. But as mentioned, this trip is very expensive. A lottery win would come in handy.

99% of the northern rockhopper population is in Gough Island and Tristan da Cunha in the south Atlantic Ocean. It looks like Tristan is accessible only by ship from South Africa - a six day trip. I'd imagine that would be a great pelagic trip though with many southern hemisphere seabirds and cetaceans.
 

JTweedie

Well-known member
The two really expensive ones are Emperor and Royal. You might get lucky and see an Emp on a regular Antarctic cruise, but to be certain you need to go on an expedition cruise that visits a rookery, which start around £10k. As far as I know, Royal is only accessible on the Heritage sub-Antarctic NZ cruise.
The Royal is one of six species shown on the latest report Naturetrek published on their Sub-Antarctic Islands of New Zealand and Australia, the others being King, Gentoo, Southern Rockhopper, Yellow-eyed, Little.

The trip with the most penguin sightings was Antarctica, the Falklands and South Georgia, with King, Gentoo, Adelie, Chinstrap, Southern Rockhopper, Macaroni, Magellanic.

These two trips together got nine of the 18 species, with some overlap between them, but some unique to each of them. I'm sure if you were lucky on the second trip you might see Emperor.
 

Larry Sweetland

Formerly 'Larry Wheatland'
I've see 8 of them without going on any expensive cruises. Luckiest was Northern Rockhopper which happened to turn up in South Africa while I was there, so we spun round and backtracked several hundred km to twitch it.

When a beached Emperor turned up on North Island NZ a few years ago, someone pointed out that it would be cheaper to twitch it with a return flight from the UK than it would ever be to see one otherwise.
 

Rob Hunt

Well-known member
Thirteen for me. I was booked on a sub-Antarctic trip last November, which would have got me Royal, Snares and Erect-crested. I’m re-booked to do the trip this November, but there seems to be no chance that New Zealand will be open to British tourists this year.
The Atlantic Odyssey would be the best option for Northern Rockhopper and a lottery win for Emperor.
 

JTweedie

Well-known member
Just looked up Atlantic Odyssey. Looks like if you don't mind sharing a cabin then it's potentially more affordable than many of the other trips I've seen.
 

Andy Adcock

Well-known member
England
One good bang for buck option is to do a cheap cruise from Buenos Aires to Santiago via the Antarctic Peninsula and Falklands.
I, along with a few others, am booked on a trip in Feb but three of the four countries to be visited are currently on the UK red list. I know it's a long way off but I just cannot see us being free enough of this thing, that out trip will happen.
 

DMW

Well-known member
I believe that this Weddell Sea - In search of the Emperor Penguin incl. helicopters | OTL22-21 | Oceanwide Expeditions is the least expensive way of guaranteeing Emperor Penguins (£8500). Visiting an Emperor rookery was probably my greatest wildlife experience, but it's a ton of money. On the same trip you will see Adelie and Chinstrap, which are both restricted to Antarctica, plus Gentoo and Magellanic. You could affordably add Southern Rockhopper and King as day trip add-ons while in Patagonia, or for rather more, fly to the Falklands for these plus Macaroni.

The Atlantic Odyssey is certainly a good option, but I believe they haven't see Emps on more than about 25% of the trips, and the timing is right at the end of the breeding season, when most of the Antarctic penguins have left their colonies and those that remain are moulting and look scruffy.

There's no way round the fact that penguin listing is a very expensive goal!
 

DMW

Well-known member
I, along with a few others, am booked on a trip in Feb but three of the four countries to be visited are currently on the UK red list. I know it's a long way off but I just cannot see us being free enough of this thing, that out trip will happen.
I tend to agree. I've got a cruise booked at that time and I'm not booking flights for now. All we can do is cross our fingers and wait.
 

Jeff Hopkins

Just another...observer
United States
I've got 5: Magellanic, Yellow-eyed, Little, African, and Galapagos.

I've signed up for a trip to New Zealand in February and a trip to Antarctica in Nov. '22 which if they happen should get me more. But to be fair, I'm not doing those trips for the penguins. I'm doing them for the gulls.
 
ZEISS. Discover the fascinating world of birds, and win a birding trip to Columbia
ZEISS. Discover the fascinating world of birds, and win a birding trip to Colombia
ZEISS. Discover the fascinating world of birds, and win a birding trip to Colombia

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