Midwinter in Antarctica
and one of nature's most extraordinary stories
is about to begin.
Through two months of biting winds, blizzards and unimaginable cold,
these male emperor penguins
have each nurtured a single precious egg.
One by one, they welcome their tiny chicks into the world.
But not all eggs will hatch
and one father is still waiting.
A neighbour shows off his own new youngster.
His calls will encourage the chick to emerge.
Finally, the youngest member of the colony is born.
But growing up in the world's most extreme nursery
will be a huge challenge,
for in just six months
he must have learned enough to fend for himself
in the great Antarctic Ocean.
This is the dramatised story of one extraordinary little bird.
Far from their chicks,
the mothers have spent the last two months catching fish and fattening up
while the fathers were left alone
to hatch their eggs.
Now, the race is on to get back and feed their young.
Among the excited crowd is Snow Chick's mother.
She's got a belly full of fish for her newborn,
but between them
is a gruelling 60-mile trek across the frozen sea.
Waddling at less than 2mph,
it will take many days to get home.
Instinct drives them on
their babies' lives depend on them arriving in time.
Back at the colony, the father is getting to know his chick.
He gives him some high-calorie baby milk
produced from a gland in his throat.
But these supplies will only last a few days.
It's just as well his mother is on her way.
Following her maternal instinct,
she and all the other females
are making steady progress on their journey home.
But in places, the ice is wafer-thin.
Below, a predator tracks their every move.
A leopard seal, the penguins' greatest enemy.
The chick's mother senses danger.
She was right to be cautious.
Broken ice is a death-trap.
For the rest,
their chick is their only concern.
But the seal needs just one victim.
A near miss
and she still has 40 treacherous miles ahead of her.
While the chick waits for her return,
outside temperatures are at -30.
But the pouch covers him like a tea cosy
and keeps him at a comfy +37 degrees.
For a new father,
walking with a chick on your feet is a tricky balancing act.
He'll get the hang of it soon.
The mothers are also struggling with the icy conditions
and they are crossing
some of the toughest terrain on earth.
Their sharp claws grip the ice,
while scales on their feet act like treads.
But where the snow melts and re-thaws
it creates slippery conditions that
even a penguin finds challenging.
Back at the colony,
it's been a week since the chick was born.
At these temperatures,
survival depends on getting enough to eat.
His father tries,
but there's nothing left to give.
The mothers battle on.
可惜的是 有些年份 她們沒能準時回家
Sadly, some years, they simply don't make it in time.
The chick is getting weaker by the hour.
Then, at last, some weary figures appear.
Utterly exhausted by the walk,
the mother still has one final challenge
before she can meet her chick.
There are over 3,000 fathers with chicks here
and, even to penguins, they all look the same.
For the chick, time is running out.
But the penguins have a solution.
The fathers get in line
and dad and his chick join them.
They form an identity parade.
All she has to do is simply work her way along the line.
Sounds simple enough,
but among all the penguin lookalikes
her partner is still tricky to recognise.
So, every so often, she stops and calls.
Her cry is unique
and the father responds with a call of his own.
It's what she was hoping to hear.
After two months at sea
and a 60-mile trek across the ice,
she's made it back in the nick of time.
In a miracle of natural timing,
he gets a morsel that will save his life.
It's now his mother's turn to take over the childcare...
..But they must be careful -
a few seconds too long on the ice and their chick will die.
Finally, they unite as a family.
The bond they share
is one of the most remarkable in nature.
For over the next five months,
they'll take it in turns to trek to the sea to bring back food
for their ever-growing baby.
His father endured so much to get the tiny chick this far.
Saying goodbye is hard.
This time, there's no looking back.
In four weeks, he will return with fresh supplies.
But first, there's the little matter
of a 120-mile round-trip to the sea.
Now, it's Mum's turn to feed him.
A natural preservative
has kept the fish as fresh as the day it was caught.
The chick may be satisfied,
but his father hasn't eaten for four months.
He and the rest of the hungry fathers
are now two days into their long walk to the sea.
But sometimes, the ice offers a short-cut.
An ice hole,
a portal to the sea
which could cut their journey by days.
And when you're famished,
it's got to be worth investigating.
But such holes don't appear by themselves.
There had to be a catch.
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