Posts Tagged ‘little blue penguins’

Penguin Crossing Guard

March 29, 2016

The Penguin Post had found that somewhere in the world there is a giant penguin crossing guard.  But, upon further review it’s actually a sign for a “Penguin Nature Tour” just outside of Christchurch New Zealand. 1570906710_32fd8dfe58_b

A Penguins Best Friend Turns Into Movie

September 15, 2015

Mass penguin attacks on Middle Island by wild foxes seemed a frequent ordeal for a penguin loving town near the island on the coast of Victoria, Australia – until a local farmer came up with a canine solution.

It seemed unlikely, but it worked.  Now the use of Maremma sheepdogs to guard the colony of penguins has become one of Warrnambool’s most unusual features and a world first in conservation practice.783707-dog

Warrnambool council manager and dog-handler Peter Abbott said the program began in 2006 after plummeting penguin counts. “It got to a point where the colony was about to be wiped out,” he said.

The small island is just a few hundred yards from the shore, wadeable for humans and, as the locals discovered, swimable for foxes.

However, while animal-lovers can visit the dogs at the town’s maritime village, fraternizing with the public is a controlled exercise. They need to remain working dogs to remain effective on the job, said Abbott.
“The dogs stay on the island through the penguin breeding season at summertime and they stay there overnight of course by themselves. And also make sure people don’t go to the island as well.” Penguin numbers have increased to about 180 after the Maremma project was launched.
The success of using the Italian breed has spurred a multi-million dollar movie to be made and named in honor of the first dog guardian named Oddball.

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“We went from about 800 penguins, down to just four.”

The current pair of patrol pooches, sisters named Eudy and Tula, live on Middle Island to guard the Little penguins from predators such as foxes and wild dogs.

Little Little Penguin Census

November 13, 2014

The little fluffy penguin, which has been under siege for the past decade on Granite Island, Australia may have a future after all. The Little Penguin census on Granite Island was completed last month and it was found that there were 16 burrows containing 32 penguins. In 2013 there was evidence of 38 penguins, 2012 – 26 penguins and in 2011 – 102 penguins.w1200_h678_fmax

The Natural Resources Management Board (NRM) fund Flinders University to conduct the census and penguin ecologist Dr Diane Colombelli-Negrel said it is the second year the university has undergone the census. “The little penguin numbers seem to have stabilized since 2012,” Dr Colombelli-Negrel said. “Granite Island has greatly improved with the breeding success in 2013 being 1.5 (calculated as number of penguin chicks that fledged per breeding pair), which was the highest in the SA populations monitored. “However further monitoring is necessary to assess if this is a long-term trend.” What was most pleasing for Dr Colombelli-Negrel is the management and control of rats on the island. “Since 2006 we have done a lot of management to control the rats and our findings show there is no rat predation at all on the island now,” she said.

Orphaned Little Blue Penguins Go Home

May 22, 2014

The Penguin Post has learned that nine little blue penguins who were saved from certain death were released back into the wild last week, after being hand-fed for the past four months at Bicheno’s Pademelonpark Wildlife Refuge in Australia.

The baby penguins were left for dead by their parents and rescued from a rookery on the East Coast town’s coastline in January. “Every year towards the end of the [breeding] season you get late chicks and the adult penguins go into a molt stage and lose their feathers, so they can’t go into the water to find food to feed their babies, so they really have no choice but to abandon them,” Bicheno Penguin Tours owner Nic Wardlaw said.

Rehabilitated little blue penguins being released back into the ocean last week

Rehabilitated little blue penguins being released back into the ocean last week

Refuge manager Geoff Preston fed the then juvenile penguins twice a day until they each reached one kilogram in weight and their feathers became water resistant. “We fed them about 120 to 150 grams of fish a day each,” Mr Preston said. “The only hope they had was us because no one else was going to feed them and the release went perfectly, with no wind and the sea was flat.” Mr Preston said Coastal Seafoods supplied all the fish, which Bicheno Penguin Tours paid for. Mr Preston and his wife Vicki rely on donations to keep the park running and take care of injured animals and birds in the region.

Penguins Get Some Four Legged Protection

May 9, 2014

The Penguin Post has learned that there is now a very clever four legged strategy being implemented in Australia that may have far reaching implications into the future when it comes to protecting penguins from non-indigenous predators in temperate climates.   Sheepdogs!  Yes, sheepdogs are bred and trained to protect sheep against wolves, but that doesn’t mean that their skills can’t be used to protect different animals against other species. This is exactly what the Maremma Project did on Warrnambool’s Middle Island, off the south coast of Australia. They took 2 Maremma sheepdogs, a breed originally from central Italy, and brought them to the island to protect a dwindling and seriously endangered population of Little Penguins from foxes.

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The situation was dire around seven years ago when the sheepdogs were introduced: Where a colony of around 1,500 Little Penguins once thrived, only 4, that’s right 4 breeding pairs remained. The colony was truly on the brink of extinction, at least on the island.   This project was first introduced about four-and-a-half years ago, and since then things have kept improving, surpassing the expectations of pretty much everyone involved. The last census showed about 200 breeding adults, but most importantly, not one Little Blue Penguin has been killed by a fox since their dog bodyguards showed up.  That’s what we call a successful operation. Two flippers up.  Way up!

This may be the cutest picture ever

This may be the cutest picture ever

A Town Called Penguin!

May 8, 2014

How would you like to live in a town called Penguin?  Where the kids all graduate from Penguin High, you get parking tickets from the Penguin Police Department (who drive around in black and white checkered cars). There’s the Penguin Fire Brigade, the public trash cans are surrounded by penguin sculptures and emptied by the Penguin Sanitation Department.  You can check out some books at the Penguin Public Library or hit the links just south of town at the Penguin Municipal Golf Club.

Penguin Gold Club Crest

The wonderful Penguin Golf Club crest which is a map of Tasmania and the ball is positioned on the location of the town of Penguin.

Have a bad fall after one too many at The Penguin Pub? Don’t worry, the Penguin Volunteer Ambulance will be there in no time and whisk you off to the Penguin General Hospital emergency room, and on and on.  This is not a dream, as the Penguin Post is happy to report there is indeed such a place.  The town of Penguin, with a population of about 4000 is located on the northern coast of Tasmania, an Australian island just off the southeast coast of the continent down under. 379338_10151365515283194_1316741404_n-1

The wonderfully named Penguin was first settled in 1861 as a timber town, and proclaimed on 25 October 1875. The town was named by the botanist Ronald Campbell Gunn for the nearby fairy penguin rookeries that are common along the coast.

Penguin Park

Penguin Park

The area was first explored by Joseph Fossey who traveled through the district in the 1820s and named the Dial Range which rises behind the town. Timber cutters soon flocked to the area to exploit the rich forest resource. Wharves were built along the coast to allow boats to load the harvested palings and this helped to clear the area where the town site was first settled in 1861 when businessman Edward Beecraft acquired 167 acres of land.tasmania-_31

The town continued to prosper as a port for local produce and it was proclaimed a township on 25 October, 1875. The arrival of the railway in 1901 led to a decline in Penguin’s role as a port as local produce was then transported  by rail along the coast to the larger nearby (unfortunately named) port towns of Burnie and Devonport.

A public trash can in downtown Penguin

A public trash can in downtown Penguin

But, Penguin continued to survive and these days is a mecca for tourists wishing to see the very flightless birds it was named after.  Evening tours to witness the Little Blue penguins returning from their day at sea are readily available in town, although the summer breeding months from November to March are the best time to see the penguins near the town called Penguin.282907_345780722228640_1948643645_a-1

Hundreds of breeding pairs of Little Blue Penguins come ashore after dark and make their way across the sand to burrows that may be among the rocks or in hollow scrapes under tussock grass or in tunnels up to 3 feet deep. There is wonderful statue of a 10 foot tall penguin in the aptly named Penguin Park in downtown Penguin, and a Dutch windmill in Hiscutt Park that was presented to the people of Penguin to commemorate the Dutch settlers in Penguin and the Dutch explorers who were the first Europeans to make contact with Tasmania.  A plaque proudly declares: ‘On behalf of the Dutch settlers of Penguin on the first day of October 1988 as a gift  in the Australian Bicentennial Year’.  A stroll along Main Street will more than confirm there is no shortage of penguins and all things penguin in this, a town called Penguin.

Little Blue Penguins coming ashore near Penguin, Tasmania

Little Blue Penguins coming ashore near Penguin, Tasmania

Penguin Sweater Project

May 7, 2014

These senior citizens are well accustomed to knitting blankets and clothes for children, but now the residents and staff at Princes Court Homes in Australia have taken to providing knitted sweaters – complete with flipper holes – for some feathered friends in need.

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Provided with a pattern by Knit for Nature, residents and staff have knitted 35 little penguin jumpers to be donated to Phillip Island Nature Parks for penguins affected by oil spills. Princes Court Homes nursing care director Sandy Wellington said she initially saw the project on Facebook and, despite her disbelief that the project existed, pursued it as a craft idea for residents.

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Sounds like a win – win to the Penguin Post for the residents and the penguins.

A New Little Blue Penguin Parade?

May 1, 2014

The Penguin Post has learned that a group of Kaiteriteri residents in Southern New Zealand have banded together in an effort to save their local Little Blue penguin populations in the hopes of creating a penguin parade in their area.  At its inaugural event yesterday, residents, holidaymakers and children met at Little Kaiteriteri to learn about ways they can save the protected species.

Spokesperson for the group working to save the penguins, Mark Oldfield, said he wanted residents to put nesting boxes in the area, as well as traps for predators.He said if residents worked to protect and encourage the nesting of the little blue penguins, they could have a penguin parade much like that in Oamaru where penguins can be seen scuttling between beach and nests at dusk and dawn.

The penguins were creating burrows under homes at Little Kaiteriteri, which some residents encouraged, while others did not, because of the noise and smell. “This is why we are encouraging people to set up the nest boxes.”

Department of Conservation partnership ranger Al Check said there were many risks to the penguins, including traffic, rodents and dogs. He was concerned about the influx of dogs over the holiday season. DOC would provide dog training to stop dogs from attacking the penguins, he said. The group were encouraged to use traps for predators and nesting boxes for the penguins. Some traps had been donated to the residents.Conservation Minister Nick Smith said he supported the “fantastic initiative” of the residents.

“These are a very wonderful creature, and if we don’t look after them they won’t survive.” He said they were iconic to New Zealand and DOC was committed to their survival. “We need to make sure that the children here today can one day come back with their grandkids and there will still be the little blue penguins.”

Kori the penguin lifts Shannon Bradford, 3, of Motueka after the Save Our Little Kaiteriteri Blue Penguin launch held at Little Kaiteriteri

Kori the penguin lifts Shannon Bradford, 3, of Motueka after the Save Our Little Kaiteriteri Blue Penguin launch held at Little Kaiteriteri

Little Blue Penguins Tracked

September 15, 2013

Little blue penguin enthusiasts will soon know more about the fishing habits of the birds whose movements are about to be tracked for the first time on the West Coast of New Zealand. Six GPS tracking devises will be fitted onto penguins from two colonies with nest boxes at Charleston and will track their movements at sea. The Blue Penguin Trust  of New Zealand had been measuring breeding success at Charleston, including when eggs were laid, when chicks hatched and how many chicks survived, said trust ranger Reuben Lane. “That’s given us a pretty good idea of what’s happening on land. That’s why we’re moving to this tracking study because we sort of need to fill in the other part of the picture,” said Mr Lane. “They are marine birds, they spend most of their time at sea, so we kind of need to know about that.” The trust hoped to find out where the penguins were fishing. That information had implications when marine reserves, bottom trawling or any activity that might impact the penguins was being discussed. “If we don’t know where they’re going then we can’t have an intelligent input into that kind of discussion,” said Mr Lane. While there had been a lot of work done on tracking penguins, none had been done on New Zealand’s West Coast. The Coast’s birds and its fisheries were different to elsewhere in the country. Antarctic currents meant the east coast had a rich sea life close to the shore, whereas he thought the birds struggled more on the West Coast. Analysis of stomach contents showed Coast birds often seemed to have to feed on squid, which Mr Lane described as “the tofu of the sea” without much nutritional value. Temperatures on the West Coast also meant the fish tended to be more spread out and harder to catch. While it was the first time the devices were being used on the Coast, the same work had been done at Phillip Island near Melbourne in Australia. Mr Lane said he was there in May learning how to apply the devices. The devices were smaller than a matchbox. They were taped to the feathers on the penguins’ backs, just above their tails, so they could still steer. They were designed not to create drag and didn’t seem to hinder the birds. The GPS devices would be put on birds with young chicks who were going out fishing for a day at a time, leaving at dawn, then returning just after dark. They would stay on each bird for a day before being moved onto another one. Mr Lane said the first penguin chick should hatch in about three weeks time so he hoped to deploy a few tracking units in mid-October.

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Penguin Dinner In New Zealand

June 27, 2013

The Penguin Post has learned that at the penguin dinner fundraiser on Friday, June 14 more than $9000 was raised at the McCracken Country Club and coordinator of the night Rob Heaslip said awareness on the plight of the Little Penguins on Granite Island has been heightened.  “It was an excellent night and I would sincerely like to thank McCracken and all the other sponsors for bringing the attention to the penguins on Granite Island,” Mr Heaslip said. “We all left the night astounded to the extent of the decline of the penguins and hopefully now, both local and state governments will get behind this to look after one of the Fleurieu Peninsula’s main tourist attractions.” City of Victor Harbor mayor Graham Philp said the night was very educational with special guest speakers, Liberal leader Steven Marshall and penguin researcher professor Sonia Kleindorfer. “Their input made the night special,” Mr Philp said. “Save the Granite Island penguins campaign is about raising awareness of the issues surrounding the decline of penguin populations, not just on Granite Island, but throughout the state. “There is still a lot of work to be done, but we have achieved a small step to go forward. “We need the community to write letters and apply pressure to state minister for the environment, Ian Hunter to allocate funds to research the problem further. “It is important the community gets behind the campaign now.” The $9,027 raised will be held in the Victor Harbor & Port Elliot Lions Club bank account, until it can be utilised to help the Little Penguins on Granite Island. In 2001 there were 1548 Little Penguins on Granite Island and at last count in 2012 there are only 26. Scientific research has proven the growing population of the New Zealand Fur Seal is the major reason for the rapid decline.little1