Our trail camera so far has not picked up a lot of comings and goings by the Yellow-eyed penguins and we suspect that many don't bother coming home every night. None the less those that did come home and have decided to head out again will do so about the same time and sometimes there is a small traffic hold up on the path to the beach - just walk around them and keep going!
This is a yellow-eyed penguin female from box 199 - hence the name and she really struggled to raise her chick this past summer - so much so that we had to relieve her and do it in rehab for her. When this photo was taken she was in her 2nd week of the moult and she had wandered down to the beach - maybe for a drink, but she walked so slowly and laboriously and though there appeared nothing wrong with her, she 'felt' wrong. So we wanted to be safe rather than sorry and weighed her and she was only 4.7kg. She would have perished through her moult and we took her into rehab to see her through. Sometimes it's a gut feeling we get about a penguin which is hard to describe or justify but more often than not it pans out. In this case, hopefully with more fertile eggs in September!! Bless her, she was such an easy bird to care for.
Moulting by the pool
On a sunny day it can get a bit hot for a moulting yellow-eyed penguins and they can't take a dip in the ocean to cool off as they are not water proof. But they can do the next best thing: hanging by the pool and dipping the toes when it gets hot!
Finding new boxes
Our sponsored boxes are new boxes that have been added to the colony to give our yellow-eyed penguins plenty of choice where to breed. During the moult the penguins often end up sitting in a box that has never been used and they are claiming it as their own. Sometimes they end up breeding there as well - having said that, many pairs 'own' more than one box and it is the female who decides in the end which one is suitable for breeding. Here is a new box that was kindly sponsored and a moulting penguin took up residence for about 3 weeks. Thank you to the sponsors who make it possible for us to add more boxes for the penguins and give them real choices!
This is another lucky yellow-eyed penguin lady that has a kind sponsor. She had two chicks this past summer but one was loosing weight so we raised it through rehab and she and her mate did a great job on the other one. Sometimes two chicks are too much but this way the parents raise one naturally without risking getting too skinny through the moult. It's her on the left just starting the moult about three weeks ago.
This is one of our first sponsored nest boxes from way back when we first started offering this way to folks to support our work. It was a brand-new box at the time and it took until now for a penguin to like it and move in. The bird was quite shy but I got this photo of it and when I moved around I noticed that it had a friend inside the box. The vegetation did not make it possible to capture it but it looks like that maybe a pair has taken a shine to this box. About time too!! So thank you Ali, for sponsoring this box!
Continuing our current topic of sponsored penguins: here is an older male on the right moulting with his mate. Pengee I has been round the block a couple of times, in fact he will be turning 20 come September. He has been a very successful breeder over the past few years with this mate and they produced one chick - below average for this pair, but they managed one when many didn't manage at all. A bit of age and experience goes a long way. He now has a guardian angel watching over him in his sponsor and we hope that he will return again in September and bless us with more fluffballs!!
This is the favourite yellow-eyed penguin for a very special penguin friend who has sponsored him. He is a young male, a juvenile just starting to moult about a month ago when his sponsorship came through. He stayed more or less in the same spot for his moult so he was easy to follow up week after week while he was going from fat and grey headed to scruffy to slim and with a fancy yellow line. He is now an adult and will be commanding a little bit more respect from the adult males as he is now proper competition for the girls. He has his work cut out though if he wants to breed. At 2 years old his chances are slim so he probably will concentrate on carving out his territory in the colony, claiming a nest box and then see if he can persuade a pretty girl to come and move in with him. He seems to like it in our colony so if he sticks around we will be able to follow his progress over the next years! Thank you to his kind sponsor - we will keep you posted!
Moulting can produce some funny patterns - this yellow-eyed penguin adult almost finished with the moult except of his modesty patch on his lower belly.
Update on Vivek
It was time for Vivek to complete his moult in the colony. He was well over 6kg and has only 10 days or so to go so we figured it would be good for him to get to know some of the locals. We let him go and here he is under a bush seeking some shade on a sunny day. Not long now and he will head back out to sea.