Liz Bonnin presents the adelie penguin on a windswept Antarctic shore.
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Liz Bonnin presents the adelie penguin on a windswept Antarctic shore. A huddle of braying shapes on a windswept shore in Antarctica reveals itself to be a rookery of Adelie Penguins. These medium sized penguins whose white eye-ring gives them an expression of permanent astonishment were discovered in 1840 and named after the land which French explorer Jules Dumont d'-Urville named in honour of his wife Adele. They make a rudimentary nest of pebbles (sometimes pinched from a neighbour) from which their eggs hatch on ice-free shores in December, Antarctica's warmest month, when temperatures reach a sizzling minus two degrees. In March the adult penguins follow the growing pack ice north as it forms, feeding at its edge on a rich diet of krill, small fish and crustaceans. But as climate change raises ocean temperatures, the ice edge forms further south nearer to some of the breeding colonies, reducing the distance penguins have to walk to and from open water. But, if ice fails to form in the north of the penguin's range it can affect their breeding success, and at one research station breeding numbers have dropped by nearly two thirds.