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Monday, 11 March 2013

Penguins are so Sensitive

I don't go for fancy cars
For diamond rings
Or movie stars
I go for penguins
Oh Lord I go for penguins

Throw your money out the door
We'll just sit around
And watch it snow
I go for penguins
Oh Lord I go for penguins

Penguins are so sensitive
Penguins are so sensitive
Penguins are so sensitive
To my needs…

Lyle Lovett ”Penguins" from the album "I Love Everybody", 1994

Arawhata River, New Zealand
Arawhata River, New Zealand
We were walking across a short boardwalk over a little trickle of a stream when Ron suddenly stopped, stared into the bush beside him and then back at me. My eyes followed his gaze about 20ft into the trees. There to my amazement stood a Fiordland Crested Penguin, ankle deep in the stream peering through the foliage back at us. It would be an image forever burned just into my brain. All cameras were still in the backpack. With one step the penguin would slip back into the dense bush and out of sight, leaving us wondering if we had seen a mirage or did we really just see our first penguin in the wild? That vision appeared when we were hiking the short Bush Walk at Jackson Bay on the West Coast of New Zealand’s South Island. The trail winds through native forest about 20 minutes to a rocky ocean shoreline. The nearby café had a sign saying that the penguins were moulting and so hiding in the bush – meaning the chances of seeing one were probably nil. We started the hike anyway for the chance to stretch our legs, view the native trees up close, and perhaps see a seal at the rocky coast. Greenstone, Jackson Bay, New Zealand
Greenstone, Jackson Bay, New Zealand
So we were unprepared when near the beginning of the trail we spotted the penguin. Of course the rest of the trail was hiked slowly, camera ready hoping for another glimpse of the tuxedo wearing little fellow with yellow bushy eyebrows. On the return trip we would spot him again near where we first did. But this time he was hunkered down obviously hiding in the dense foliage. The shots Ron got that time were just proof that our sighting was real and not a mirage. Still they were too blurry to even post here. But after that I was hooked. I wanted to see another penguin! Jackson Bay Wharf, New Zealand
Jackson Bay Wharf, New Zealand
At Curio Bay we didn’t get as close as we hoped to a Yellow Eyed Penguin – also moulting (see last post). Forest in the Catlins, New Zealand
Forest in the Catlins, New Zealand
So on the Otago Peninsula near Dunedin Sandfly Bay, Otago Peninsula, New Zealand
Sandfly Bay, Otago Peninsula, New Zealand
we actually took an organized tour hoping to really view some of them moulting or otherwise. The Penguin Place is a private reserve created to protect the endangered Yellow Eyed Penguin. These penguins are unique to New Zealand, considered to be solitary, and nest at the edges of native bush. The warm NZ climate and intense sunshine is not exactly the icy habitat where most of us in the rest of the world believe penguins live. At the Penguin Place they have well-camauflaged trenches that run out to blinds or hides to watch the penguins come ashore to feed their young in breeding season. Yellow-eyed Penguin or Hoiho coming ashore, NZ
Yellow-eyed Penguin or Hoiho coming ashore, NZ
Or to just stand there and moult for a couple of weeks. Moulting Yellow Eyed Penguin or Hoiho, NZ
Moulting Yellow Eyed Penguin or Hoiho, NZ
We did get to view a couple more moulting ones. But I think to truly see this shy species one would have to visit during the summer breeding season. Moulting Yellow Eyed Penguin or Hoiho, NZ
Moulting Yellow Eyed Penguin or Hoiho, NZ

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Monday, 4 March 2013

Spinach Fettuccine Anyone?

That is what I thought the kelp swaying in the waves looked like – a big boiling pot of spinach fettuccine.  Kelp, Curio Bay, New Zealand
Kelp, Curio Bay, New Zealand - Click for larger
Yes I actually took that picture above.  Kelp, Curio Bay, New Zealand
Kelp, Curio Bay, New Zealand - Click for larger
 Kelp, Curio Bay, New Zealand
Kelp, Curio Bay, New Zealand - Click for larger
We were camped at Curio Bay in The Catlins on New Zealand’s South Island and had walked to the rocky shore to view the Petrified Forest and hopefully some yellow-eyed penguins that were known to come ashore there in the evening. ”Petrified
Petrified Forest, Curio Bay, New Zealand - Click for larger
At low tide you can see the fossilized remains of a Jurassic period forest. From a distance what looks like sculpted rock, on closer inspection shows the texture of the logs and stumps of what once were living trees. There was also a penguin on shore but unfortunately this is the time of year they are moulting which doesn’t make for very attractive pictures. During the moult they stand on shore or in the bush until their new feathers come in and they can return to the sea. ”Yellow-eyed
Yellow-eyed Penguin - Click for larger
There was a rope barricade to keep the many noisy spectators a safe distance away. If the penguin had been frightened and returned to the sea too early it would probably freeze to death without its new full feather tuxedo. We watched it preen or mostly just stand there. It was thrilling to see this endangered very rare penguin that is unique to New Zealand – even if in moult and at a distance. But Curio Bay and nearby Porpoise Bay are worthy photo subjects themselves! Curio Bay, New Zealand
Curio Bay, New Zealand - Click for larger
Curio Bay Dawn, New Zealand
Curio Bay Dawn, New Zealand - Click for larger
Porpoise Bay Dawn, New Zealand
Porpoise Bay Dawn, New Zealand - Click for larger
The next day we would move further into the heart of The Catlins. Royal Spoonbill
Royal Spoonbill - Click for larger

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