Some yellow-eyed penguins are building their nest on their day off and others hang out in the forest - just chilling. It is holiday time for the penguins. There are no eggs or chicks that need looking after and the moult is over and they are at their most beautiful. So all they have to do is go fishing occasionally and hang out. Easy!!
A day at home
Some days a lot of yellow-eyed penguins stay at home - and shout a lot as see in the previous post. Others are already thinking about building nests and occupying their house (so no one steals it while they are out fishing). Here is a pair in their house - at a guess it is the male in the house showing his mate what a great nest he has built, how well he would look after her precious eggs and what a fab mate he would make. We didn't attempt to ascertain who is the male or female as this would have disturbed this domestic bliss and so it was just a quick photo to share and we moved on leaving them to it.
April 24th, 2016
Some days the yellow-eyed penguins stay home through the day and have a discussion like this group caught on one of our spy cams. Other days there is not a single penguin in the colony. It seems that either all go fishing or many stay home. Maybe it has to do with the females. If some females fancy a day off fishing then their mates also stay home to defend them against overtures from the single males in the neighbourhood. Afterall there are not enough females to go around, so if you have one you need to guard her or you join the single males.
Quick, run away.....
Our yellow-eyed penguins share the beach with seals - including pups. On this occasion the race is on who could get away from the little furry ones the fastest!!
Seals will not harm penguins. We have no evidence that NZ fur seals even eat penguins at sea. On land penguins are quite safe but the pups obviously want to play! Maybe not quite the thing for a penguin just home from fishing....
The march of the penguins
A group of yellow-eyed penguins on their way to go fishing march past our spy cam in the forest. They have a determined look "places to go, fish to catch".
Mututal preening of a pair of moulting yellow-eyed penguins gets at those tricky bits around the face. It is an act of faith for a penguin to let the mate get near the precious eyes with their most formidable weapon, their bill.
Early morning traffic
Our penguin spy cam has caught a beautiful procession of yellow-eyed penguins heading out to sea in the early morning. They leave in a group but generally arrive back at the colony in the evening one at a time - little is known about their behaviour at sea: a bit of a mystery what happens out there!! Maybe that's a good thing.
"Honey, I'm home!"
Yellow-eyed penguins are called Hoiho in the Maori language and it means 'noise-shouter'. Here is an adult announcing to all who care to know that he has arrived home. We think - and we are not at all biased in this regard - that yellow-eyed penguins have the most melodious ecstatic display call of all penguins!!
This is Mr 115 wearing his old feathers like a cloak. He is dozing - maybe dreaming of the ocean and the fish. Soon he will be away again in his brand-new feathers enjoying life at sea. Mrs 115 has already finished with the moult and goes out to sea every day and sits with him at night. This keeps their pair bond strong.
Here is a little puddle of yellow-eyed penguin feathers. Unlike feathers of flying birds they are very short and have a flat stalk in the middle. They lie on top of each other like (fish) scales. The bit closest to the body has down to catch air for insulation and the outer bit is smooth and the bird transfers oil from its gland at the base of the tail to the tip of the feathers to make them waterproof. A yellow-eyed penguin has about 45 000 of these. They are these white ones from the belly, the feathers from the back have black tips, there are really long ones from the tail and really short one from the flippers. We never find yellow ones because the colour has faded out so much by the time they moult that they look white.