I have had a fantastic first season in the field this year. It has been so interesting to follow the season and watch the adults prepare their nests, lay eggs, incubate, little black golf balls of fluff turn into larger brown balls of fluff and then the alopecia style hair do’s of brown fluff and the mullets and then the day you arrive and there is nobody home….. they have fledged the nest and we say good luck to them.

Ever wondered what blue penguins look like at each stage of their lives?

And what my Ranger role entails?

Some photos courtesy of Oamaru Blue Penguin Colony and some from the local colonies – enjoy!

It has been very exciting for local school students to have a visit from the ranger who is still covered in mud and poop, smelling like penguins, with fresh photos from the colony that morning. We have all enjoyed the journey this season!

 

 

Chicks 1 – 7 days old are sparsely covered in dark grey first down, their eyes are slits until day 6 or 7 then finally open.

 

Chicks 2 – 3 weeks old have thick chocolate brown fluff, their 2nd down, look for the area between their nostrils and eyes being bare until week 3

 

At 4 – 5 weeks old, the chicks have sheathed feathers and the down feathers shed from the underside of the flippers. They start to become more upright and mobile

 

 

They then start gaining more blue adult plumage and lose their chick down

 

Around 7/8 weeks they are 2/3 blue and generally the last bit to go is the neck ruff

 

When they have grown all their adult plumage they are brighter blue than other adults, with smaller bills

 

Burrowscoping in nooks and crannies looking for penguins

 

We use a burrowscope to find penguins in the darkest most difficult burrows

 

A great first season