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.
This adult yellow-eyed penguin surprised us with his early return into the colony and his determined march up the hill and towards his nest site. No doubt he is going to park there for the night, occupying it means owning it and that will impress the lady - whether it is the old mate or he is looking for a new mate. So there is a lot of pre-breeding activity going on but usually not during the day: the order of the day is still to go fishing.
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!
Our lovely yellow-eyed penguin juvenile who has worked out life can be easy, will do almost anything to get fish. Just to make sure she does not miss out she goes and sits in the soft-release pen that has the door tied open. She thinks, the neighbouring pen has an adult in resident who surely will get fed, so if I stick by close to that one, I won't miss the fish delivery. So, when the fish arrives, she is in prime position for first dips. Enjoy!
When you get your meals delivered there is not much to do during the day, so Sally, our intrepid yellow-eyed penguin juvenile is hanging out with the seal pups in the forest. She won't approach us unless it is 3:30pm and we show up with a white bucket. No bucket no fish - so we are not useful to her and she moves away. Come feeding time, she is our best friend and follows us around until the bucket is empty.
When we soft-release yellow-eyed penguins the idea is that they are fed in the pens in the penguin colony for a week so they meet the locals, get used to the place and hopefully remember that there is food to be had here if they are in trouble.
Sally appears to have learnt this lesson rather well. While her "cell" mate got the idea after a couple of days after the pen gates were opened, Sally is still around and enthusiastically gobbling food we give her. Here she is trying to elbow out an adult who seems to have similar ideas. We are not worried that she will never leave. We have encountered her looking wet (no rain) in the morning and believe she takes dips in the water and may even leave for a few hours but so far she is always there when it's feeding time. Clever girl! Instincts will kick in soon and she will be off!
So Sally left on her own accord and in good health and nicely plump but life out there was not quite so easy. She returned quite skinny and we found her and brought her into rehab. Here she is sitting with the "cell" mate - must sit on box - on the right and they have both filled out nicely and were not far away from being let go. So the procedure is that they are first taken to a soft-release pen in the colony for a week where they are fed once a day. Then the gate is opened and they may leave if they wish. If they are still there the next day another meal will be delivered until they are gone.
Yes, that is a penguin draped over a tree stump - it's our Sally. She has a charmed life as she also has a sponsor who is watching her progress from the other side of the ditch (Australia, in case you are unfamiliar with the term).
Over the next week or so we want to tell the story of Sally: she is a beautiful yellow-eyed penguin chick that liked to sit in a tree. She is very recognisable by the interesting spots she has on the left side of her chest. She hatched as a singleton with plenty attention from her experienced parents and no sibling competition.