A good season for chicks

The Little Penguins at Penneshaw are moulting and will soon be heading out to sea to fatten up. The penguins need about a month eating full time at sea to make up for the energy they have lost during breeding and chick rearing. Soon there won’t be many penguins to see in the burrows around the Penguin Centre (February is a very lean month for penguin viewing).

Most chicks are already out feeding and growing up. It has been a very good year for chicks at Penneshaw which should produce a record total (in recent times) of 28 chicks.

One chick near the Penguin Centre lost its father (maybe to a snake) but its mother is bringing the chick up on her own.

Penguins at risk from fishing nets

A new article on The Conversation has some alarming news about penguins. It begins:

Fishing nets pose a serious risk to the survival of penguin species, according to a new global review of the toll taken by “bycatch” from commercial fishing. Fourteen of the world’s 18 penguin species have been recorded as fishing bycatch.

Chicks and Chris

This season is looking promising for the Penneshaw penguin colony. Four chicks have already hatched and others are on the way. Centre manager Nick Pike says that two new pairs have formed, and that he saw a White-winged Triller near the centre last week, only the fourth record for Kangaroo Island.

But all is not good news. Our beloved Chris Baxter has died. Chris was not only a dear friend to those of us who knew him, he had an encyclopaedic knowledge of Kangaroo Island birds. We’ll miss him but we thank him for the gift of his beautiful book, Birds of Kangaroo Island, a treasure to remember him by.

Coming ashore to nest

The Penneshaw Little Penguins, which have been out at sea feeding over the last couple of weeks, are now coming back to shore.

They’ll often stay ashore for about week and then go out to feed again. Little Penguins mainly eat pilchards and anchovies. They are fattening up in preparation for breeding.

About 12 pairs have set themselves up in Penneshaw so far, and more could come later. The earliest pairs should start laying eggs soon but we won’t be seeing any chicks out of the nest for at least a couple of months.

Penguins tours start at 6.30pm and 7.30pm from the Penneshaw Penguin Centre every night from tomorrow night.

Season close

Penneshaw Penguin Centre tours will conclude for the season on Saturday night, 14 January.

At this time of year, Little Penguins take to the sea for about a month to eat and restore their condition and body fat after breeding and raising chicks.

But the good news is that the two Hooded Plovers chicks are growing big and strong on nearby Hog Bay beach.

Tours will begin again on Wednesday, 1 March 2017.

Hooded Plover chicks

Three Hooded Plover chicks are being raised by their parents on Hog Bay beach, the first time eggs have hatched on the beach for 10 years. The area of the nest is clearly marked on the beach and most people are keeping themselves and their dogs away from the chicks to give them the best chance of survival.