After finding out more about these precious creatures, you might want to help us spread the word, so more people become aware of their struggle to survive in this busy world.
Manly’s Little Penguins (Eudyptula Minor) are the only remaining mainland breeding colony in New South Wales. There used to be hundreds of penguins fishing and breeding all around Manly, but now we only have around 60 to 70 breeding pairs.
The penguin wardens have been looking after those families who have chosen to breed in the middle of Manly’s CBD for five years.
2 court hearings, 2 adjournments.
Silverwings abandoned second-clutch eggs.
Moulting two months early.
Penguins at Delwood Beach.
We’ve just had the most dreadful heat wave, three days of temperatures in high thirties and on Friday, even Manly boasted 44 degrees Celsius.
I was called down to the wharf because Mr Silverwing was shaking and making strange grunting sounds. Lyn had suggested getting some iced water from the Bavarian Bier Café to cool him down. It worked; he stopped shaking and fled for more protection behind the shower steps’ beam.
Mrs Silverwing had started moulting soon after the assault, which makes me think that it was her who was caught up in that nasty incident when one of us was assaulted. Premature moulting can be brought on by stress or trauma.
She is now finished, but Mr Silverwing was still moping around under the steps during the heat wave. Little penguins can’t go fishing during moult because they are not water proof, so they go hungry for three weeks and that’s why they act strangely. They come out during the day, sitting anywhere as far away from the water as possible.
Moulting penguins have been found in people’s garages, on streets under cars…and worse.
Worse things are happening at the moment. Some penguins have chosen Delwood Beach to moult. I have been called to that area a few times. Once a penguin was what looked like floating in the water, but when I swam out to it, it was happily fishing for plankton on the surface. He looked at me as to say “What do you want? Don’t disturb me, I have to fill up quickly”. Sure enough, some of his feathers were brownish beige and there was a huge bald spot on his back. He had already started to moult. That must be the reason why he couldn’t dive anymore. Dave Thomas, Eco Divers, was there taking some photographs.
The next day this penguin was sitting under a rock at the same beach, not far from the rocky area where I saw a young lady with a large black dog. I spoke to her, explaining the penguins’ predicament. She told me that the Council Rangers had caught her on the sandy part of this small family Harbour beach and told her she and her off-leash dog could stay here amongst the rocks. She promised me, however that she would stay away for the next three weeks and tell other dog owners as well.
The very next day, I had a phone call from Marion, a Fairlight resident, asking me what she could do: there were three large dogs on Delwood Beach, one of them the above mentioned Rusty. We both rang the rangers who went there to find the dog owners had gone. They rang me to explain why they had been allowing dogs there: The ‘Wildlife Protection Area’ sign only shows Federation Point and doesn’t include Delwood Beach.
Unfortunately, this is true.
However, in December, shortly after the seven penguins were killed at Federation Point, all councillors voted for an emergency resolution which would give greater protection to the penguins. One of the measures was the uniform Dogs-On-Leash area of east Esplanade, West Esplanade and Scenic Walkway to Delwood Beach inclusive.
Why hasn’t it been implemented?
Moulting time is the most vulnerable period of the penguins’ breeding cycle.
We’ll probably lose even more penguins in that area. I think that these moulters are the two couples from Federation Point who only had one clutch of chicks, thus getting away before the killing.
This is a very sad state of affairs, especially since the State Government’s Little Penguin Recovery Team decided to ask Manly Council to take on more responsibility for the safety of the penguins and their protectors. That was after they voted against reviewing a possible Critical Habitat listing for Federation Point.
It doesn’t give us much hope for the survival of this threatened colony, the last remaining mainland colony in New South Wales.
One thing does give us hope, though - the support we have been receiving from the local residents, tourists and visitors.
The penguins at the wharf have been visited by hundreds of spectators every night over the holiday period. We volunteers received a lot of praise for protecting them and education the visitors.
It is only a handful of people, dog and boat owners, who keep trying to destroy our work. Sadly, they can do so much damage as the last three
months have shown.
The other hopeful development is that several new volunteers have been recruited to join our group for the next breeding season beginning in June.
One of them, a camera man, has already been helping us with his photography. His images helped to identify a spear fisherman last Saturday.
Thank you to all you wonderful people who have been supporting us, it will go a long way towards saving Manly’s Fairy Penguins.
January 8, 2011 Dog/boat owner’s assault on Penguin wardens but Mr. Silverwing saved at the Wharf!
Last year didn’t finish well and sadly, neither has the New Year started well.
That’ s not quite true, New Year’s Eve went smoothly except that we didn’t see any penguins coming out as there were, as always, huge crowds to watch the 9pm fireworks. There were mainly families and no alcohol was allowed, the sturdy star-picket fence kept the curious away, but not a single penguin appeared. Was this just one event too many after everything that had happened in the last weeks.
For the penguin protectors however, life was comparably easy, we dismantled the fence and packed up at 11pm since the crowds had dispersed and there were no drunks in sight. We went to the Bavarian Café to have our New Year toasts and went home nice and early.
The very next night (Saturday), all our relaxation was brought to an end by a very unsettling incident.
It was a quiet evening with lots of families picnicking and wanting to see the penguins.
Only one fat male penquin Mr. Silverwing came out at 9.15pm, who spent quite some time under the jetty drying and preening. Just when he’d come out to make his way up the beach to his burrow, a boat landed about 20 meters away. Two men jumped out and a middle sized very fit and frisky looking dog followed them.
I ran down and my fellow warden for the night, Johnyth, followed me. Now I wished I had noticed and stopped her. I ran, asking one of the men to please put his dog on the leash because there was a penguin right behind me. When this man replied by swearing
(“f…ing penguins etc, my dog is only playing!”)
I immediately rang the police who must have heard me call out “No, no, no!” before I’d hung up That was when the dog had discovered the penguin and started bounding towards me. I started running sideways back and forth between the dog and the penguin, a bit like a goal keeper. I still didn’t notice where Johnyth was. When the owner had finally caught the dog and put him on the boat, I went up to them so I could explain in more detail.
Then I was abused, I started taking mobile photos of the boat the dog and the owner. At that moment I heard a gasp of horror from the crowd, I turned around and saw Johnyth lying flat on her back.
The other man which Johnyth must have been talking to, was kicking water onto her. Two women from the crowd had reached her already and were helping her, while two men restrained her attacker who had pushed Johnyth over. Then the men got back on the boat, but I called out
“Don’t let them leave, the Police are coming!”
At that very moment eight police officers arrived, got the two men and their other six or seven passengers off the boat and interrogated them.
Johnyth and I were now sitting in the sand. Johnyth was shivering with cold and shock but we had lots of help and comfort from the public. I was so relieved when Phil and Jenny arrived, (fellow penguin wardens) who happened to pass by. They looked after the habitat and Mr. Silverwing until 2 am in the morning. That is how long it took for the frightened bird to reach his nest.
The police acted swiftly, professionally and seemed to take the incident very seriously. One police sergeant kept saying to the attacker and the giggling girls from the boat saying, “It’s not funny”
They also offered to take Johnyth to the hospital, but she insisted she wanted to make her statement and get home. After they had interviewed all the witnesses (we are deeply grateful to them for helping us and for giving up their time to give evidence), they took Johnyth to the station. I stayed at the wharf with Phil and Jenny and Mr. Silverwing, but when the police didn’t come back to interview me, I went to the station to enquire about Johnyth. She had just been driven home and now it was my turn. It was way past midnight and I was so tired, I got a few details confused. The whole thing was very difficult to grasp.
However, we must be very thankful that nothing worse happened to us. If the police hadn’t come so swiftly and the bystanders hadn’t come to our rescue, I can’t imagine what could have happened.
I wonder how the court hearings are going to proceed.
07/12/10 All of the Federation Point Penguins Wiped Out!
You will have seen in today’s Manly Daily that every one of the seven penguins at Federation Point were killed over the weekend, 3 breeding pairs, Romeo and Juliet, Pirate and Pearl and Mr. & Mrs. Clochard plus their chick, a late hatchling from the colony’s first clutch.
We found out by accident from a passer-by at Ocean Care Day three days after the killing. Those three bodies were visible to the public and were picked up and taken to the zoo by a ranger, one more was picked up on Saturday and three further bodies which had been hidden in crevices were picked up by the penguin wardens on Sunday night. We were shocked to find out for ourselves, we only came to investigate the story we had been told by a stranger at Ocean Care Day.
It was a bit of a shock after all of the good penguin publicity on the work of our Penguin Wardens that there was such a communication gap, staff at National Parks and Council didn’t seem to know what had happened even as late as Monday morning.
Most of the bodies we saw were intact and didn’t look ‘mauled’ at all, especially Juliet on the ‘Balcony’ looked just as though she was sleeping.
Also, the witnesses, who had seen two of the initial three bodies lying on the big flat rock, said they looked unharmed, as though they were looking at each other, with one flipper raised.
How did they get up there? I have never seen them on that rock?
National Parks are appealing for any information people may have about the deaths and they have retained two forensic scientists to get to the bottom of the killings.
In the meantime, provisional autopsy results from Taronga Zoo look as though all penguins were killed by one large to middle-sized dog.
Help us find the culprits. If you know anything or anybody who might have seen or heard something please contact:-
Manly Environment Centre on 9976 2842 or National Parks on 131555
01/12/10 A Big Win
Good news! Council wins court case against the Pavilion Function Centre
The penguins and their protectors were relieved when the Manly Pavilion Function Centre development was refused by the Land and Environment Court on the 1st December.
The venue is right next to Federation Point, the last natural penguin habitat in Manly Cove,
The penguins have been using the crevices in the rocky outcrop
for a long time (anecdotally at least 15 years) and we were concerned that the function center’s people traffic, noise, light, etc. would have threatened this part of the endangered Little Penguin Colony. The penguins have been so happy with their rock crevice nests here that the colony has grown from one breeding pair to three in the last few years!
18/11/10 Life and dead
One dead penguin - Stickybeak’s son under Bier table? - One chick for Silverwings, called Goldenwing - Two juveniles from the ‘Land of the Secret Agents’ - Pavilion Court Hearing
One dead penguin was found on the Oyama Beach and the next day a sick looking penguin was sitting under the rock at the bottom of the East Esplanade steps. After not moving for 24 hours, we took it to Taronga Wildlife Hospital. However, we could released it the next day again.
Was it Stickybeak grieving over his dead partner? All we know is that we haven’t seen Stickybeak nor his mate since Bob Tagg observed the jet boat speeding through the group of penguins near Oyama Beach; the same beach where Jake found the dead one with head injuries.
WHARF Habitat: Fortunately, we think that there must have had enough time to rear a chick: little Eira we rescued from the Bavarian Bier Café one sunny afternoon. Only a penguin with Stickybeak’s genes could have been found in this compromising position.
We think that the reason we didn’t see them rear their chick was that they had moved under the jetty, into one of the hidden breeding boxes.
We have also seen two, almost green-looking chicks peeping out from under the bottom ramp. That must have been just before they fledged. We call their parents the Secret Agents, as they are hardly ever visible, but we do hear their musical conversations.
Mr. and Mrs. Silverwing, who have their burrow under the beach shower at the busy promenade, have one chick only, again. But he is magnificent! We have christened him Goldenwing.He is almost ready to fledge, only has a bit of fluff left on its back and both cheeks. He likes staying out long hours, which makes us glad, as we have established double shifts for the Penguin Wardens.
FEDERATION POINT: On the 20th October an on-site hearing by the state government’s Land and Environment Court took place at Federation Point. The developers of the Manly Pavilion Venue had filed an appeal against the MIAP’s refusal of the level-one Function Centre. The centre would have an endangering impact on the penguin habitat. Several of the Fairlight residents and three penguin protectors gave evidence. We have not heard the outcome yet.
In the meantime, Romeo and Juliet also have only one chick, the first time in 6 years. They have always had 2 chicks, a girl and a boy. We named this lonely clutch Little Will in honour of Shakespeare, whose fame promptly called for some intensive ‘helicopter parenting’.
Little Will left 3 mornings ago. He’ll be away for 2-3 years until he is ready to start his own family near his birthplace. In the meantime his parents’ Balcony domain is now vacant, free for the water rats to do their clean-up. We are hoping that there will be another clutch before the March-Moult.
The Clochards are still taking turns on the nest; we don’t know whether the eggs have hatched already. It is worrying that the cable ties holding the fence keep getting cut and pushed away. I have given up on asking for CCTV proofs.
Our new couple, Pirate and Pearl, is still heard in the secret rocky burrow. Last night, however, I did see one of them retching for regurgitation on its way up; that’s a clear sign that their eggs have hatched. There is hope!
04/10/10 Speedboats - An increasing danger?
Manly’s Little Penguins face a new perilous threat: Speedboats. Several incidents have occurred over the past few weeks.
In addition to a rough sea, our Little Penguins had to cope with the increased water traffic around Manly, which made it difficult for the Penguins at Federation Point to land on the rocky cliff. One evening when the sea was quite bumpy, we were watching a Little Penguin trying to land. Normally, the Little Penguins anticipate the wash from the Manly Ferry and avoid getting injured. On this night they had waited as usual for the wash from the Manly Ferry to pass, but were surprised by another wash, and another and another. It took over half an hour for the penguins to land after being battered against the rocks.
An even more disturbing incident happened when a speedboat went through a penguin raft, as the penguins made their way home. The penguins ‘raft-up’ when they travel to gain ‘strength in numbers’. Speedboat drivers do not seem to know or watch out for this.
As a possible result of this one Little Penguin was found dead, washed up on the ‘Private Beach’ with head injuries the very next morning.
Another penguin was discovered disorientated near East Esplanade, possible affected by the loss of his friend. He and the dead penguin were taken to hospital. Fortunately the disorientated penguin was soon released into the penguin habitat at Manly Wharf again.
The grieving penguin might have been our notorious Stickybeak. Unfortunately for Stickybeak, this is not the first time that he has lost a dear one. His first partner was found trapped under a disposable coffee cup and a few days later with a supermarket plastic bag wrapped around her foot. She was rescued twice; however, we were not surprised when she did not return for the next breeding season.
As the old saying goes, there’s plenty of fish in the ocean, however, is their a penguin for our lonely Little Penguin out there?
02/09/10 Silverwings sitting again - Stickybeak visiting only? - Rocky habitat at Federation Point unchallenged by high tides
Wharf Habitat: Hurray, the barriers’ large gate was repaired by the council. It runs smoothly and quietly now, making our lives much easier. We think that Stickybeak has moved out. Garry and Michael, Penguin Wardens, have been observing a show-off penguin, tall, beautiful and noisy (or musical?) at Manly Point, a more secluded and rocky habitat. After spending hours of observation under the Manly Wharf’s jetty, I can understand why: There is nowhere to go up. The storms and high tides have bunched up huge amounts of sand. I could not detect any signs of Silverwing’s burrow nor could I see any footprints of our ‘Secret Agents’, the three hidden penguin families. Have all of them moved somewhere else? Do we have only one penguin family, the Silverwings, left?
Here’s some good news: that one family is doing well. They are sitting on eggs again and we think that we’ll have some spring chicks soon.
Uncle Stickybeak has come several times, just for a visit. He always snoops around, checking out his parents’ nest before waddling back into the water.
Federation Point: Romeo and Juliet on their rocky balcony are also sitting on eggs. It’s especially beautiful to observe the ‘change-over’. One of the couple comes home from fishing all day, sits in front of the burrows’ entry and preens until all dry. Then he or she goes into the burrow and we hear loud greeting noises. The penguin who’s been sitting on eggs all day comes out all dirty from the burrow. Normally it preens itself clean and guards the nest. Tonight, however, this one must have been very hungry because it disappeared down the rocky staircase for a swim and a spot of dinner. Sometimes, if the preening takes too long, the sitting bird comes out and we see the greeting ritual which looks more like a duel with beaks accompanied by a duet of penguin small talk.
The Clochards under the bridge are also sitting on eggs, but it’s much harder to observe them. We have to drop down onto out knees and try to catch a glimpse of them through the cracks of the boardwalk.
The third of the three couples we have been observing seems to be nesting in the crevice halfway up the ‘balcony’. They are still at the mating stage, sticking to the generational hierarchy. Patriarch, Romeo had his chicks first, then his Clochard son born five years ago. The next son to have chicks is his next son from 4 years ago, Pirate. There are also noises from around the corner. Is that the son from 3 years ago?
09/08/10 Waiting for the eggs
Our Penguin Protection Program is now well established. We have lots of volunteers, making it easier for staffing the days when people are away.
The penguins, even though they came back to Manly six weeks earlier than usual, have not advanced their breeding behavior. The couples we can observe, have been mating for two months but have not produced any eggs yet.
Manly Wharf: Mr and Mrs Silverwing had been sitting on eggs until we had another unusually high tide last Monday during the storm. Usually we only get one ‘king tide’ a year, this breeding season we’ve already had extemely high tides. We are afraid that the breeding couple under the platform had their nest flooded and their eggs destroyed. Instead of only one penguin guarding the nest, both of them are out again, busily mating and repairing the nest.
Federation Point: Romeo and Juliet have been smooching and mating and it now appears that they are sitting on eggs. Mr & Mrs Clochards under the bridge, are still mating. Under the heirachy the Clochards must wait until Romeo and Juliet have produced their first lot of chicks. Judging by the 'musical woeing, the three other nests seem to be occupied as well - we are not sure by who and how many, time will tell...
Weather conditions are vital for the penguins’ breeding cycle. What will the impact be of the unreliable weather patterns caused by climate change, have on our Little Penguins?
12/07/10 Penguin wardens’ training; Stickybeak very quiet this year; Federation Point habitat very active.
Manly Wharf: The weather has been much milder these past 10 days. It almost seems as though spring has come early. We still see Mr and Mrs Silverwing every night, waddling up to the shower platform, mating and preening there in public. Some disrespectful people call it ‘Penguin Porn’. What can we do but discretely turn away our red torches? Often after a long time of 1 - 2 hours, they go in under the bottom step of the staircase to sit in their ‘hall’ before disappearing altogether into the invisible burrow under the platform.
Stickybeak has not been his usual self this year. He often approaches under cover of the jetty to dry off before disappearing into his hidden burrow somewhere under there. We only know that he is there when he joins in the racket (we call it ‘singing’ ) that Mr and Mrs Silverwing make.
A few times he came out from there when his step-mum, Mrs. Silverwing, was passing. He wacked her, or was it a play-fight? Some observers even thought there was a bit of promiscuity going on. Has he got his own partner? We sometimes hear two voices trilling.
On Monday, Katie observed increased activity coinciding with a full solar eclipse. Don’t laugh, I have seen the same phenomena twice before. There was lots of running in and out of the jetty cover as well as dancing, singing and mating. She is sure there was some couple swapping going on.
Federation Point: Romeo and Juliet on their balcony, are out every night exhibiting their amorous behaviour under the romantic yellow street light from the boardwalk. Otherwise this is a beautiful habitat, a natural rocky outcrop with lots of mysterious crevices the penguins love.
All the burrows which were established last year while the developers blocked off the public pathway, seem to be active again. I’ve counted five other nests apart from the ‘Balcony Residence’; however, the security guard from the Pavilion told us that he saw even more than that.
Training Course: We had a great turn up for the NPWS’s training on Saturday.
I was especially happy to see so many new volunteers, whose help will be greatly appreciated further into the breeding season. Our penguins are becoming famous. It’s unstoppable now. It’s almost becoming too big; however, if we make the most of it by using this popularity to educate the wider community about the Manly Penguins’ plight, it will all be for the best.
We would like to thank John McPherson from Sydney Fast Ferry Service who has donated three sets of walkie-talkies which will enable us to keep in touch between the two habitats. The Sydney Fast Ferry Service crew are keen supporters of our Little Penguins.
06/07/10 Intensive family planning and celebrating the new breeding season
What a week! Our 'wharf penguins' are very lucky to have so many people rallying around them. Thank you to Robynne Millward from the Manly Environment Centre and Mel Tyas from National Parks for helping me to organize the Penguin Breeding Season 2010 Launch.
Cllr Jean Hay, Mayor of Manly and Sally Barnes, the Deputy Director General of National Parks & Wildlife Service were invited to help us launch the season. Included in the launch was the unveiling of the interpretive sign all about the penguins and to present the Stickybeak postcards and the Manly Environment Centre's penguin fridge magnets to the public. Les McLeod, an indigenous ranger, acknowledged country and Tula the giant penguin mascot (with Jake Tagg inside) helped the Mayor to unveil the sign.
Thank you to David Jenkins (nomadphoto.com.au) for his great picture of Stickybeak on the postcard and our internet ‘Penguin Gallery’. It was also an opportunity to welcome the new penguin wardens and to thank all penguin wardens for the time that they volunteer to keep our penguins safe.
It was a great start for the season and the penguins thanked us by doing some intensive mating at the wharf. Three penguins have been coming up openly every night. We don’t know why Stickybeak disappears so quickly. Has he got a partner?
With all the excitement at the wharf, we have been neglecting this habitat; however, there are plenty of people in the community, especially Fairlight residents who look out for them.
The new licensed venue, Manly Pavilion’, is not operating on full steam yet and the level-one 400-patron function centre was refused by MIAP, the Manly Independent Assessment Panel because of the penguins habitat being so close. I hope that the Land and Environment Court will uphold that judgment. Any daytime business would be acceptable.
In the meantime, we have had reports of sightings up to 10 penguins at federation Point. Tonight I had time to go there and just caught Romeo and Juliet mating on the ‘balcony’. There was also another penguin, yapping and trilling, sitting near the concrete slab. He later disappeared into the new nest halfway down from the ‘Balcony’. Two nights ago I had seen another happy couple at it on the right of the bridge. They were either the ‘Clochards’ from under the bridge or the new couple from the nest behind the Paperbark tree.
We are full of hope for this breeding season, now that everything is in place. I am also looking forward to working with all the new wardens who will get their training this Saturday.
29/06/10 ‘Wine, Women & Woe’ all week
It’s been fun and games for all the penguins, but only Mr and Mrs Silverwing have shown any constant patterns of behaviour.
Most nights one of the Silverwing couple stays back in the burrow, coming out to sit under the steps as early as 3.00 pm. Only twice both of them came back from fishing. And for a few nights a 3rd penguin came as far as Stickybeak’s nest. On two evenings we observed him having a play-fight with his mum who was passing by on her way up to the shower nest. It looked very funny. He was trying to provoke her but she just stood there patiently suffering his antics.
Only once did we see four penguins at the wharf, but this fourth one went back into the water.
There have also been two constant penguins sitting around the rocks. They look like new breeders exploring new habitat: one on the right of bridge in the rock face, behind the Paperbark and bush, and one on the left, halfway up the rocky balcony. Romeo, the patriarch, comes out and sits on his balcony much later when all the trilling and yapping of the young ones has ceased. Mr. Clochard was seen under the bridge only twice.
Two nights ago we had a sudden turn in weather, it’s really wintery all of a sudden, 5 degrees below average. The beginning of the breeding season was unusually warm, I am sure the penguins thought it was springtime already.
Tonight, on Monday, we had special visitors from England, a film crew shooting a documentary about unsolved wilderness crimes. They became interested in our penguins when the killings happened last year.
They interviewed me in the morning at Shelley’s Beach and filmed Bob Tagg on the ‘Private Beach’ at the ‘Addison/Oyama Critical Habitat B’ site. Their take on the story looked very interesting; we look forward to seeing the result on the National Geographic’s Channel.
An Invitation from the Little Penguins
You’re invited to join us to celebrate our return to Manly, the launch of the new penguin interpretive sign at Manly Wharf, as well as Sticky Beak’s new postcard.
Event: Penguin Celebration
Location: Manly Wharf (West Esplanade, Penguin Sign)
Date: Monday 5th July
Time: 3.45pm for 4.00pm start
Launch: The event will be launched by Cllr Jean Hay, Mayor of Manly with special guest Sally Barnes, Deputy Director General NSW National Parks & Wildlife Service.
I look forward to meeting you and hopefully one of the Little Penguins will appear for the launch!
21/06/10 Growing habitat
It’s been a mild winter week with more human traffic than the penguins might like.
Manly Wharf: Still only one couple visible
We are getting many children coming down to the wharf now. Most of them wait patiently for one or two penguins to come out. We enjoy meeting the Royal Far West Home children and their parents on a regular basis. It was lovely to watch the expression of delight on their faces when the penguins came out of the water.
We’ve had problems with dinghies from yachts. The yacht owners’ tether the dinghies to the pylons, just where the penguins come out of the water. We’ve had to move the boats further down the beach ourselves when we couldn’t find the owners.
Federation Point: Makeover men
All week Romeo had been holding the fort on his own, until last night when three other male penguins joined him. They were mainly checking out last year’s burrows and getting the renovations going. They also indulged in a bit of voice production exercises.
We are now getting students from the local schools asking some very informed questions. Project Penguin is working!
I am enjoying reading our new volunteers’ diary entries. They are so enthusiastic and charmed by these creatures. I feel the same. It’s difficult to explain, but, in a microcosmic way, the endangered Little Penguins colony in Manly represents what’s happening to our natural world as a whole. Their numbers are decreasing through human activity.
However, when you see them emerging from all the rubbish left behind on the beach, you are tempted to believe in miracles. It’s the volunteer Penguin Wardens who have to remove the rubbish on a daily basis to keep the habitat clean and safe and for this job alone, I thank them.
It makes it all worthwhile when we watch the Little Penguins at night, with their glistening white tummies and indigo blue backs dancing along the water’s edge by moonlight - we feel hope for the future.
16/06/10 Sunshine, students & spectators
No more rain! That makes our job easier in one way but more difficult in another - the spectator crowds have increased, making the penguins more shy and secretive .
Luckily, on Tuesday the third lot of local primary school students, this time from North Curl Curl, Manly Village and Beacon Hill had good weather to learn all about our work with the penguins. They listened to my talk followed by a talk with Judy Reizes (founder and manager of the Manly Environment Centre). After these talks the students surveyed the public on the awareness of the Little Penguins at Manly and then went off to do some weeding at Collins Beach – learning how to care for the Manly penguins’ habitat. This was same the program the other six schools has taken part in, in the previous weeks.
‘Project Penguin’ was organised by Taronga Zoo and National Parks. It has now been running for three years involving young people from the Northern Beaches community teaching them all about the protection of our Little Penguins. What a brilliant idea!
Because the talks took place during daytime, the children couldn’t actually see any penguins, only their habitat. I am very happy now to see the children who attended this program, bringing their families along at night time to visit the penguins when they come out .
07/06/10 Rain rain rain… and very high tides
We were drenched every night of last week. Good for the garden!
Still, the penguins (mostly just one) showed up every night, they don’t mind getting wet. There were reports of major sewage overflows. We are worried about pollution in the harbor and how it will effect the penguins. The weekend evenings were either very cold (Saturday) or very wet (Sunday), making it easy for us wardens. Even though we got cold or soaked with rain, we didn’t have to stay too long as there were no spectators who needed to be educated. On Saturday night we didn’t get to see any penguins but last night there were two coming out - with one disappearing under the jetty and one under the shower steps.
During the day, Saturday and Sunday were taken over by the council’s annual Wine and Food Festival which this year had the additional tag of ‘Sustainable Festival’. The Manly Environment Centre stall focused on ‘World Environment Day’ (June 5th) and ‘International Year of Biodiversity’. We took the opportunity to raise awareness for our Little Penguins. Jake paraded Tula, the giant Eudyptula Minor (a penguin costume) and gave out the brand new fridge magnets with the Wardens’ logo and the MEC’s web page. A very hot job indeed!
On Sunday morning we had a working bee with several wardens to get the Federation Point Habitat ready for the season. There wasn’t much to do because the council had picked up the last of the developers’ mess. So I gave the new volunteers a guided tour of both CBD habitats, giving them some stories of our experiences. There were two dogs running on the beach and, luckily, the rangers came straight away to talk to the owner who was unashamedly playing with his pets.
31/05/10 One couple and 3 explorers
At the Wharf Habitat Mr & Mrs Silverwing were still grooming on Monday 24th.
They carefully preened each others faces, something they can’t do for themselves.
By the light of a ¾ moon and mild weather, Mrs. Silverwater was lying on her tummy alot.
The next evening she was not to be seen. After coming home at 6.40 pm, Mr Silverwing spent all night guarding the burrows entrance.
All week we have only seen one Silverwing. Does that mean they are taking turns incubating eggs already? Very early indeed!
The two penguins at Federation Point are very secretive. We only hear them quacking occasionally. Romeo and Julia are not sitting on their balcony yet. Just as well, we don’t want them attracting too much attention while we are still short of wardens
On Thursday the Wharf Habitat saw some penguin excitement. Just in time for two new volunteers to admire them, three penguins came dancing out of the water.
Unashamedly flipping their flippers, they went about exploring this popular but controversial estate. One of them who behaved a bit like Stickybeak , waddled straight over to Hugo’s restaurant. I think he was just checking out whether they had proceeded with the DA for their extensions.
Quite satisfied with the lack of building activity, but disgusted by Hugo’s new marketing poster, ‘Penguins love Hugo’s’, he came back to the jetty.
We have had unusually high tides every night. A lot of sand has been washed up under the jetty. I hope Nest 3 is still above the high water mark.
On Friday it was full moon, but only one penguin came in the wake of the 5.30 pm ferry. It ducked under very quickly. The tide was terribly high again.
24/05/’10 Federation Point Penguins are back!
We’ve had an eventful weekend. I haven’t managed to get the wardens together. Luckily the weather has been terrible, keeping away most of the usual spectators; there was no real need to close the barriers at the Wharf Habitat. Just as well, because council staff haven’t got back to me about opening them in the morning.
I was happy to have Julie helping me on Saturday when Mr Silverwing arrived at 5.20pm. Again, it poured with rain, making us take refuge in the bus shelter.
Mr Silverwing took a long time to come up. He was still sitting on the sand when Mrs Silverwing lost patience, marched down and wacked him with both her flippers. He took it on the chin and immediately rushed up to the burrow, devoting his attention to a prolonged singing and preening session. We checked on the Federation Point Habitat but couldn’t see any signs of roosting penguins there. On Sunday I had Julien helping me at the Wharf Habitat. The weather was a little better, attracting more penguin watchers. However, we still managed without the barrier. It was enough to place just one 'witches' hat' on top of the shower steps because the happy penguin couple tends to hang around in the dark just below the bottom step.We went home when they had disappeared through the bottom step at 7.15pm.
That was when Murray rang me from the Federation Point Habitat: “There’s a couple of penguins mating near the new nest just below the ‘Balcony Burrow’!”
When I got there I was relieved to see that it was happening on the part which had been tidied up by the council. Even though the fencing screen should be higher, at least they are no longer lying on the sand where the penguins land. Hopefully, the screen on the other side will be picked up soon. There are four more couples due back any day.
21/05/'10 Penguin privacy issues
Last night, Thursday, I stayed at the wharf from 5.30pm to 7.30pm and it was all happening. Mr and Mrs Silverwing came out of the water and waddled up on the beach in full view of an enthralled public. You should have seen the happy faces and heard their comments: “Look, our penguins are back, how beautiful!”
I left when they were sitting safely under the shower steps. Mr Silverwing had managed the high jump onto the boardwalk, no sandy ramp yet, and Mrs Silverwing had taken the detour up the ramps. So - no secret tunnel after all?
I’ll have to ask the volunteer Penguin Wardens to start their guarding earlier this season.
Perhaps we should have taught our penguins to read, so they can stick to the experts’ opinion on their breeding cycle
20/05/'10 Silverwing not alone anymore
Last night Silverwing was there again and at 7.00pm a ‘hello-quack’ hailed from the water. When I came back from my meeting, two penguins were sitting under the shower steps.
19/05/'10 The Return of the Penguin
Mr Silverwing, the penguin Godfather of the wharf habitat, has finally realised that he is sitting on one of the most valued real estate in Manly.Thus he has returned from his travels to guard his burrow under the shower steps 6 weeks early. Is this the reason why he returned early, or is it for breeding
The patriarch, Romeo, at the other Manly habitat at Federation Point has not returned yet. Just as well, as there are still remnants of the building activities from the revamped bathers pavilion. His wife Juliet is imploring the Council to make their home clean and safe before breeding.
By the way, Romeo and Juliet’s balcony, as well as her offspring’s nests, will need extra nightly wardens to protect them from the extra traffic.
Perhaps we should have taught our penguins to read so they can stick to the experts’ opinion on their breeding cycle.