Snowy Sheathbill trying to steal foods from Gentoo penguin at Port Lockroy in Antarctica.
Snowy sheathbills are gregarious and pugnacious birds, and except during the breeding season, they live in small flocks, feeding together and often fighting. Although they fly well and will make long journeys, even over sea, they spend most of their time on the ground. They swim well although their feet have only rudimentary webs. Sheathbills are avid scavengers and haunt seal and penguin colonies to seize afterbirths or weak young. They also search the shore for all kinds of fish, invertebrates, carcasses and almost any other debris that they can eat. They consume quantities of seaweed for the invertebrates that it harbors. Sheathbills nest in isolated pairs in a crevice or among rocks. The 2 or 3 eggs are laid on feathers, seaweed and other soft material. Both male and female incubate the eggs for a total of 28 days, but it seems as if only 1 chick is actually reared as a general rule. In winter, sheathbills in the extreme south of the range migrate north, but those on subantarctic islands usually remain there. The other species in this family, the black-billed sheathbill, C. minor, occurs in the subantarctic sector of the Indian Ocean.
Port Lockroy is on Goudier Island (64º49’S, 63º30’W) in the Antarctic Peninsula. Following a conservation survey in 1994, British 'Base A' - Port Lockroy was recognised for its historical importance and designated as Historic Site and Monument No. 61 under the Antarctic Treaty. The buildings were renovated in 1996 by a team from the British Antarctic Survey (BAS) and since then opened to visitors during the Antarctic summer. This is made possible only by the proceeds of the small gift shop. Any surplus from the shop proceeds goes towards renovation of other historic sites in Antarctica.
Port Lockroy is not only an important natural and historic environment, but also a destination for many from around the world who want to come and learn more about the Antarctic.