We don't get to see many yellow-eyed penguins now in winter. They spend the day at sea and we are usually gone from the colony by the time they are coming home. Here we encountered an pair home early and enjoying each other's company.
These neighbouring cell mates are very cooperative at feeding time. Both are still very hungry and very keen to eat but not for long. Soon they will be released when they have lost the munchies and get back to their lives in the colony.
Winter routine has set in and our yellow-eyed penguins are going fishing every day and return at night - well most nights. Here is a hand-full on the beach busily preening after a day at sea.
This is Wotan's mate - or widow - who we had to bring into rehab for a little while because she had lost a little too much weight through the moult and we didn't want to risk her. She only stayed a few days and then we were able to release her again with a brand new set of feathers and in good weight. Hopefully she will fall for one of the bachelors in her neighbourhood and breed again next summer. For now, she is on holiday.
It looks like Mrs 91 is over it and Mr 91 could eat more....At some stage our moulting yellow-eyed penguins stop wanting food when they are in rehab and that is a sure signal that it is time to release them. However, with Mr and Mrs 91, he still wants food while she really can't be bothered, so we kept her until he lost his appetite as well and then released them together. This has worked very well for everybody and we were delighted to put them back near their box and let them get on with life. May they live long, be with each other long and make lots and lots of chicks.
Sometimes our yellow-eyed penguin pairs get themselves a little skinny and both of the pair end up in rehab. This is what happened with these two - first we picked her up (on the left) and then a week later or so we picked him up. Once they had settled and learnt how to eat out of the hand we put them together - and they sang and sang and sang (either that or they were comparing notes as to how they came to be there). We do worry to separate pairs when one of them needs a top up during the moult and we try to have them apart for as little time as possible so not to endanger their pair bond. Sometimes there is no need to worry - these two were quite happy together in rehab!!
We released Stitches weighing 7.1kg and almost through the moult - together with a couple of others, both her neighbours. No doubt her mate will have returned home that night and would have been delighted to see her back and looking so very, very chubby (it's her in the middle there). Stitches is like a cat: she has many lives and it is such a delight to help her out. Hopefully she will produce many, many more chicks in the coming years - and if she needs a wee top up during the moult, that's fine by us!
Here she is demonstrating that she remembered perfectly well how to eat from the hand - afterall she has been in rehab twice before. This stint won't take long. She just needed a little top up after raising two chicks this past summer. Her mate was already done with the moult - they were one of those cases where he came in much earlier before she did.
We had the privilege of caring for Stitches again this moulting season. Those of you who have been following us for a while will remember her as having come into our rehab facility as a 2 year old 3 years ago with a terrible wound. She healed, was released, needed a top up and started breeding - no luck first time - and produced 2 beautiful chicks this past summer on her second round. We were unhappy with her weight through the moult and brought her in. We were not taking any chances with the number of recent deaths we have had. So, here she is back in rehab and it did not take her long to remember - this is actually a good thing!
It did not take long for the Fiordland crested penguin to cross the beach hit the waves and then s/he was gone. S/he came up a few more times for a breath and a look around and then disappeared. Bye......and thanks for all the fish!!