Penguins prove popular over summer
The little blue penguins living down on Timaru’s Marine Parade have pulled some large crowds over the summer but the breeding season is now winding down.
Peter Bennett, a member of the town’s penguin group, said there had been up to 11 breeding pairs living among the rocks at Caroline Bay over the summer.
‘‘It’s been good up until the last week. It’s pretty much quietened down there at the moment,’’ he said.
Group members were reporting seeing just one or two penguins coming in at night, with only three or four birds remaining on site.
Bennett said last year’s breeding period may have lasted a little longer.
During their stay the penguins had pulled a few big crowds, especially on weekends, and group members had been on shifts each evening since September to keep the crowds at bay.
‘‘It will be raining one night, 22 cars and about 60 people. I thought ‘ there will be nobody down there, I’ll just take my umbrella down and have a wee peak’.
‘‘There were cars everywhere and people down in the sand all getting wet.’’
The thousands of visitors had been well behaved. ’’I’m not speaking for all the group but nothing’s come back as being a major.’’
A few penguins will stay in Timaru during moulting season, when the birds change their feathers, and a few would winter over in June.
Bennett said the Yellow Eyed Penguin Hospital opened in Dunedin this month for six weeks was a positive development.
There hadn’t really been much of an issue with injured penguins in Timaru, he said.
Otago Polytechnic media liaison Megan Martin said the hospital was set up for yellow- eyed penguins, but any rare birds could go there for treatment.
‘‘The Yellow Eyed Penguin Trust raised money for a doctor, Lisa Argilla.’’
There were no wildlife vets based in the South Island so the trust paid for Argilla to spend the summer in Dunedin.
‘‘If there were penguins that were found to be injured up in Timaru, I know that she’d accept them,’’ Martin said.
Anyone who found an injured bird should ring their local Department of Conservation office and get them for collect it for treatment.
Little blue penguins have proved popular with visitors over summer.