This pair of yellow-eyed penguins have decided to take the day off and own this newly placed box. It looks a little like a half prison but the bars are there to keep the lambs out that might like to move into a nice sheltered spot like this.
Well - it wasn't the first juvenile this year but it was the first HEALTHY looking juvenile. We have collected up a few over the last few weeks that needed a little pick-me-up but this one needed nothing from us. It was wonderful to see this strapping yellow-eyed penguin juvenile hanging about in the colony not really caring that we wandered by. We were thrilled because being there, being alive and hanging out meant it had learnt to fish. We felt optimistic that day about the future of these birds.
We have set our spy cam on the access track to the penguin colony on video. After endless footage of NZ seal pups bobbing up the path and bobbing back down again - on a rainy day this happened: those flippers are just useless on a wet clay hill and the pup worked very hard but never got anywhere.
Keep watching, we clipped a video to the end showing how the penguins coped: "No worries, mate, I can even sky-point and show off on a slippery slope like that!" It helps to have claws.
We have Little penguins or Blue penguins in our colony as well - so here is one in its burrow - just for a change!
This is not a photo that exactly fits into the season and what is happening currently in our yellow-eyed penguin colony, as this adult is pre-moult and everyone has finished the moult. It is just an amusing angle on a sleeping penguin with no neck!
When we park the rehabilitated penguins in our soft-release pens they need to eat from our hand and feeding must not be stressful. By the time the gate is opened they ought to have learned that there will be food here if they get into trouble. We have evidence that this works: in the past we have found emaciated penguins hanging around in or near the soft-release pens patiently waiting for us to turn up. Usually they are so thin that they need two meals a day to fatten up, so we take them to our rehab facility for a while for more frequent feeding, observations and establishing whether they have injuries or are sick. This one is certainly knows how to feed nicely and in a day or two the gates will be opened and it can go - if it wishes.
When the yellow-eyed penguins return from their day's fishing they usually spend about 10-15 minutes on the foreshore resting and preening. This penguin has parked right in front of our spy cam and demonstrates who flexible he is. He reaches all the way to the base of his tail to get some oil and the fastidiously distributes it all over his feathers. Amazing flexibility!
As opposed to Sally, who is only now learning how to be a real yellow-eyed penguin, these two have it all sorted and have taken a day off. The female in this pair is sponsored and is called Mandy and here she is resting instead of rushing off to go fishing. As the penguins don't really need to look after anyone else just now, they can afford to take a day off every once in a while and just enjoy the sunshine for the day.
We have a spy cam down on the landing where the yellow-eyed penguins come and go and we got this footage of three adults on their way to sea. If you look carefully the fourth penguin in the group is Sally and she makes as if she is going to follow the adults across the beach and to the sea - and the video cuts out (it is set to 20sec). It still reassures us that her instincts are to go out and follow those adults - and one day at 3:30pm when we arrived with our white bucket with fish she will not be there but out there getting her own fish. We hope that she will remember that when life is tough, she can come back and there will be a white bucket with salmon for her for a little top up.
This concludes our little sequence of events in the life of wee yellow-eyed penguin girl called Sally.
She is very recognisable: those spots on her left chest are an individual marker that she will have for life. Even after her first moult she will regrow those black feathers surrounded by white ones. We didn't have a white bucket with us when I took this photo so she was not so keen and moved away. It was a different story of course later in the afternoon - about 3:30pm - when she was our biggest fan and gobbled her daily ration of salmon down!