Sunday, March 31, 2013

Penguins and more

 Chris finally checked off " I want to see penguins " from his bucket list. The best sighting we had was at Curio Bay, from the penguin blind at the lovely clifftop campsite. We spent several hours getting soaked in the rain, taking endless photos and videos of Yellow-eyed Penguins on the shore below. They can play "statues" for hours, interrupting the monotony by a bit of preening and scratching to the delight of the crowd.

The best time to see them is at dawn or dusk when they go out to fish or return to the nest. One parent stays with the young chicks while the other goes fishing, changing roles every one to two days. There were not many to see as this is also the molting season. Losing all their feathers at one time means they cannot swim during this process, which can take 2-3 weeks. They prepare by gorging on fish and building up a fat reserve several weeks before they start losing their feathers. And they fast until they have a brand new water-proof suit.

The rare Yellow-eyed Penguin (Hoiho) at Curio Bay 

I can stand like this for hours.

 No privacy anywhere..Oh, that feels so good!
Sometimes I wish I could fly away from these paparazzi!

Hippity, hop. I wonder if I can give them the slip!
 At various lakes and lagoons, we saw a variety of ducks and many black swans. The zoom on our camera could not capture their colours and graceful movements.

Grey Ducks appear to be cemented but are swimming in a blooming algae pond

Keas at a lookout on the Arthur's Pass route 
 We may have mentioned that these colourful parrots are naturally curious and can be a pest, investigating loose bits of rubber on cars and prying it away, taking out rubbish from over-flowing bins etc.  We found these two quarreling over an empty Mcdonalds' glass in a car park.

Weka mooching off the tourists at the Pancake Rocks Visitor Centre
Wekas, or woodhens, are large flightless birds about the size of a chicken endemic to New Zealand. They are quite tame and approach tourists for tidbits in many places.

And, now for something furry and cuddly....

Bunnies playing in the flax at the campsite

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