This penguin has chosen a nest box on a really steep hill side and we were concerned that the small chicks might tumble out and not get back in. So we built this verandah for them: and he likes it! And why not? It's such a great place from which to survey his surrounds!
The Little penguins live here at the Moeraki peninsula in good numbers and they are starting to think about breeding. Little penguins in Otago (southern part of South Island, New Zealand) are very flexible when to start breeding each year (a bit like their Ozzie cousins) and it can be as early as May and as late as October. If food conditions are good and they lay early enough they can raise two chicks and within two weeks of fledging them the female lays two more eggs. It makes for a long breeding season but potentially they can raise 4 chicks in a season: it's a record in the penguin family set by the littlest of them all! Awesome birds!
What is now Penguin Rescue started 30 years ago as a project involving the expansion of one colony and the creation of another. Many trees were planted and now the former has a 1ha forest and the latter a 2 ha forest. Penguins don't need trees - although they are handy for shade. Penguins needed nesting opportunity and nest boxes were then and are still one of the most important things we provide for them. There are always more nest boxes than penguins - to give choices - and sometimes they have a guest in them: here a NZ seal pup is snoozing in a penguin nest box. If a penguin finds a seal pup in their house they turf it out - it's not a problem!
Belly-flop on the way home: Our Yellow-eyed penguins are coming home more regularly now, hanging out near the nests, strutting round trying to impress the mate - potential future one or the old one - occupying nest sites and they are starting to build their nests. The first eggs are only a month away - winter is almost over!
It is getting closer to the start of the breeding season for the Yellow-eyed penguins and they are certainly starting to think about nests and eggs. Here is a pair that stayed home during the day forgoing a day's fishing to strengthen the pair bond. The sexes are difficult to tell apart for sure but often it will be the male that is on the nest trying to impress his lady by showing her how well he would sit on the eggs and what good a father he would make. When the female is on the nest she will be trying it out for size and softness and then the male is often seen wandering about finding nesting material that he brings her. Both build the nest itself and both try it out before the eggs arrive in mid September.
This is Diesel Dick, founding father of Katiki Point Yellow-eyed penguin colony in North Otago, New Zealand. He was found diesel-oiled, and Janice and Bob Jones, then living at the lighthouse, cleaned and rehabilitated him. Diesel LOVED Janice and would always come up and say hello to her when she was in the colony. No one else ever mattered to him as much. He was rehabilitated many times over his 26 years and it was a year ago that we last saw him. He was inspecting some work we were doing in HIS colony: he marched through a gate that was to keep out NZ fur seals, had a look on the beach, marched back up and we took one last photo of him here in all his glory. He has many, many descendants in both our colonies - his genes live on - and the legend that is Diesel Dick will always be with us! What a bird!