Pen­guins prove pop­u­lar over sum­mer

South Canterbury Herald - - YOUR PA­PER, YOUR PLACE - KO­REN ALL­PRESS

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.

PHOTO: JOHN BIS­SET/FAIR­FAX NZ

Lit­tle blue pen­guins have proved pop­u­lar with vis­i­tors over sum­mer.

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