Early home coming
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 don't get to see the yellow-eyed penguins in our colonies very much at this time of the year because they have left in the morning before we show up for work and we are gone when they return. However, our spy camera captures how sociable they are when they are on their way home and encounter other penguins on the way. Notice the beautiful sky pointing that is going on: the penguin walks (or runs) towards and then past another penguin and then stretches the head way up. It means "giddaye howzit going??" and it is always a little flirtatious.
This pair of yellow-eyed penguins have decided to take the day off and own this newly placed box. It looks a little like a half prison but the bars are there to keep the lambs out that might like to move into a nice sheltered spot like this.
First juvenile sighting
Well - it wasn't the first juvenile this year but it was the first HEALTHY looking juvenile. We have collected up a few over the last few weeks that needed a little pick-me-up but this one needed nothing from us. It was wonderful to see this strapping yellow-eyed penguin juvenile hanging about in the colony not really caring that we wandered by. We were thrilled because being there, being alive and hanging out meant it had learnt to fish. We felt optimistic that day about the future of these birds.
It's a slippery slope
We have set our spy cam on the access track to the penguin colony on video. After endless footage of NZ seal pups bobbing up the path and bobbing back down again - on a rainy day this happened: those flippers are just useless on a wet clay hill and the pup worked very hard but never got anywhere.
Keep watching, we clipped a video to the end showing how the penguins coped: "No worries, mate, I can even sky-point and show off on a slippery slope like that!" It helps to have claws.
We have Little penguins or Blue penguins in our colony as well - so here is one in its burrow - just for a change!
This is not a photo that exactly fits into the season and what is happening currently in our yellow-eyed penguin colony, as this adult is pre-moult and everyone has finished the moult. It is just an amusing angle on a sleeping penguin with no neck!
When we park the rehabilitated penguins in our soft-release pens they need to eat from our hand and feeding must not be stressful. By the time the gate is opened they ought to have learned that there will be food here if they get into trouble. We have evidence that this works: in the past we have found emaciated penguins hanging around in or near the soft-release pens patiently waiting for us to turn up. Usually they are so thin that they need two meals a day to fatten up, so we take them to our rehab facility for a while for more frequent feeding, observations and establishing whether they have injuries or are sick. This one is certainly knows how to feed nicely and in a day or two the gates will be opened and it can go - if it wishes.
When the yellow-eyed penguins return from their day's fishing they usually spend about 10-15 minutes on the foreshore resting and preening. This penguin has parked right in front of our spy cam and demonstrates who flexible he is. He reaches all the way to the base of his tail to get some oil and the fastidiously distributes it all over his feathers. Amazing flexibility!