A bit of good holiday penguin news as the Penguin Post has learned that Little Blue penguins are flocking back to Warrnambool’s Middle Island in South Eastern Australia with the biggest influx since the population was almost wiped out by predators six years ago. An estimated 190 little penguins have arrived for the annual breeding season and at least 17 chicks and nine eggs have been counted so far. Maremma guardian dogs Eudy and Tula have also returned to the island to protect the colony from foxes and roaming dogs. More than 600 penguins and short-tailed shearwaters once lived on Middle Island, near Warrnambool’s breakwater, but dog and fox raids reduced penguin numbers to less than 10 by 2005. Warrnambool City Council and the local Coastcare Landcare group swung into action to help restore the population, with an award-winning Maremma dog project as the centerpiece. City council officer Justin Harzmeyer said the dogs had been returning to the island every year since the first four-week trial in 2006. He visits the island twice a day to feed and monitor the dogs. “It puts our minds at ease knowing the Maremmas are back there watching over them,” he said. Mr Harzmeyer said he was thrilled to see penguin numbers on the rise. Middle Island has been closed to the public since 2009, but now there will be opportunities this summer to see the birds up close.