Our penguin colony is a lot like humans in New Zealand: we are separated by about half a degree of separation - the rest of the world? 6 degrees!
So it is with Ciara: she has been chosen specifically as Stewie Junior's (new) mate in Uncle Chang's box. Her father is mated to Poppy and she grew up across a small bay from where she found Stewie Junior. Her step-mother (so her father's previous mate) is Dylan's new mate - and these two sponsors are also related.....so she, her mate, her house and her two fertile eggs are so blessed - what could go wrong when so many fingers and toes are crossed - and of course we will be watching over this precious 2-year old as well!
Life is looking up for Dylan: he has a new mate, a new house, 2 brand-new chicks and now he also has a sponsor: Life is looking up for this yellow-eyed penguin male. It's not always been this good. Whilst we don't know where Dylan is from or how old he is exactly (about 6-7 yrs now) we know what he has been up to over the last four years since he was marked. He had a mate then and raised two chicks; then she disappeared and he sat out a year; found a new mate, raised one chick; then she disappeared and he sat out another year. But now he has all a penguin could wish for and he is a happy camper!
This box was used last year by a pair that raised two chicks. Unfortunately it looks like the female has not returned and here the male is making sure she is not in this box. He has been occupying a different box down the hill in the forest but alas, she did not come home. He has been seen and heard plenty in the colony but it looks like he is getting the summer off. It will give him time to go and chase a new mate for next season - and the Comfy Retreat box will always there for him
Another box sponsored by the lovely Penny has also got a pair breeding in it now. It is a 3-year old male with a 2-year old female and they have one egg. Interestingly they are both from this colony here and they grew up not 40m from each other - neighbours so to speak! Hopefully this will be the first of many years this pair produces offspring.
has a breeding pair in it. We have seen a bird use this nest but thought initially it was a lonely male, but alas there are two and they have eggs. Thank you, Penny, you are a wonderful supporter!
This house has a kind sponsor who has provided the funds for a box for the use of the yellow-eyed penguins. It has been taken up this year although there won't be any pitter patter of chick feet here. This is a widowed male whose mate unfortunately died of avian malaria last year and he was unable to find someone else. We have given him a dummy egg so he doesn't get ideas about wanting to take over someone else's nest and eggs but cares for his own for now. He will get the summer off as soon as the chicks are 3-4 weeks old and no longer in danger of fighting adults.
(not to worry: he will leave the egg occasionally to go fishing.)
We are always delighted to spot a juvenile yellow-eyed penguin. While we can't identify the individual we think we have spotted a total of maybe 4 in our colonies so far. This is encouraging as they have obviously learnt to catch fish and are regularly returning ashore in their chosen spot. So, welcome home, little one.
This yellow-eyed penguin pair had a sponsored box last year but they moved to the neighbouring box now where the female laid her two eggs. The penguins are territorial and can 'own' a number of boxes. In winter they will occupy them and even build nests in more than one. Ultimately it is lady's choice though because she will decide where she is going to lay the eggs. Once laid they can't be moved although the chicks can be mobile and move about a bit once they are old enough.
We moved this box from last year to a place that obviously pleased a pair: he has never bred before and she is a 2-year old breeding for the first time and they are the proud parents of one egg. Many 2-year olds only lay one egg which is just as well because two chicks would be a bit much for a young female especially with an inexperienced mate. An interesting aside, her mother breeds in the next box along - although this is not where she grew up.
This young and loved - aka sponsored - yellow-eyed penguin girl is back with a couple of eggs but she let us wait: she was the last to lay her eggs in the colony.
We now have 41 pairs for the season - that is 4 nests fewer than last year. It was not a good year in that we have recorded 3 dead and 8 missing females overall. The ones we found dead had succumbed to avian malaria and the others were never found and may have died also from avian malaria. On the better-news front we had 6 young (2-year) females starting to breed so there has been some recruitment after we have 11 young females recruit last year. (One female returned to breed at Moeraki after a year's breeding in a colony down the road.) We are very saddened by the loss of all these females - this is not good for a species heading for extinction on the South Island.