King penguins

Nicky and Peng are on a fabulous adventure, a four year contract in the Falkland Islands where there are penguins … lots and lots and lots of penguins!

Nicky Armstrong and her pal, a large cuddly penguin called Peng, have been Supporters of the work of the West Coast Penguin Trust for many years.  Nicky’s passion for penguins extends to several other large soft toy penguins and in fact a penguin themed home!

So, as a lawyer drafting Government Bills and other legislation in Wellington, when the opportunity arose to work in the Falkland Islands, she not only jumped at the chance, but took Peng along for the adventure too.

She told me: “there are penguins – lots and lots and lots of penguins!!  The plan is to go around and meet every one of them in person.  We’ve met quite a few.”

Magellanic penguins at Rookery Point
Magellanic penguins at Rookery Point: Nicky Armstrong


And here’s the latest from Nicky:

We’ve got to the end of our first penguin season. It’s been very penguinny!!

The Magellanics and Rockhoppers have moulted and gone off on their winter holidays. They should be back in about September/October.  The Gentoos are here all year although without chicks to feed they can go off to feed for longer periods so they are not all on shore at the same time.

The Kings are also here all year round although the biggest colony – at Volunteer Point – is out of bounds for the winter because the farm track to get there is closed because it gets very boggy.  This autumn has been unusually wet so the farmer closed the track at the end of April.  Fortunately, a week after my visit.

King penguins
King penguin selection with one moulting scruffy Magellanic penguin in top left : Nicky Armstrong


Having a good camera and very photogenic subjects, makes it relatively easy to take good photos – but it does result in a ridiculous number of photos.  As I sort them out, I’m sharing them on my Flickr page.

Gentoo penguins
Gentoo penguins: Nicky Armstrong


The bird flu reached here this summer but fortunately not widespread.  There were isolated birds found in various places but mostly they were birds that don’t normally come ashore here, and it was thought they probably got blown off course because they were ill.   One of the outer islands had an outbreak that affected some of the penguins, and there was an outbreak at one of the albatross colonies.  But not the kind of mass deaths that have happened in some places.

A lot of the birds have now left for their winter holidays.  Some of the marine mammals (who can also get bird flu) – like the elephant seals and sea lions, also go off for the winter.  So, for now there is less concern about the flu.  But there is considerable concern about next season – all the wildlife will be coming back, some might bring the flu back with them, and others will be coming back still with no immunity.   We will just have to wait and see.

As we have mentioned occasionally, this latest strain of avian influenza is a massive concern for seabird and marine mammal conservationists around the world.  In our recent news story, we note that, while unlikely to reach New Zealand, it remains a possibility and we – all of us who visit coastal areas and beaches – must be vigilant and prepared.  Read more here.

Back to the fabulous photos of penguins.  Nicky has kindly allowed me to share her Flickr page here.  It’s a public page, but you probably wouldn’t have found it otherwise and it is well worth sharing with outstanding photographs of not only penguins but other wildlife, landscapes and much more – and if you look carefully, you might see Peng, especially in his yellow/orange Argyle fleecy top!  Enjoy!

(Featured image at the top – King penguins at Volunteer Point by Nicky)

photo album - penguins
Sample of photo albums on Nicky and Peng’s Flickr account


Rockhopper penguins
Rockhopper selection: Nicky Armstrong


Pebble Island photos
Pebble Island selection with Gentoo chicks and Sea lions: Nicky Armstrong