It’s all Happening at XXX

 

I always loved the Simon and Garfunkel song “At the Zoo” and when things got noisy, like when my children were being particularly rambunctious, I’d find myself humming a line from it: “Someone told me it’s all happening at the zoo…” Now that my children are grown, I have found a new place to sing it.

Penguins preening next to the lighthouse.

Last week I helped Rosalie and Wayne check nests. When I walked through the gate, I was greeted by two penguins who took turns preening each other and giving me evil territorial looks as I walked past them. These days, six of them hang out next to the lighthouse and have no chicks to care for. It makes it difficult for Rosalie to get out of her driveway in the mornings. Imagine being blocked in by yellow-eyed penguins!

The yellow-eyed penguin chicks have doubled in size since my last visit. Covered in dark gray fluff, with comically huge feet and beady black eyes, they are as shy as their parents. They vary in size from nest to nest, but the wee ones will soon catch up with their bigger cousins because it is time to lay on some serious fat.

Closely guarded chicks.

In order to feed their chicks, penguins regurgitate part of their meals…and the smell of a penguin nest is….well…kind of like a bowl of Thai fish sauce left sitting in the sun. Some chicks are big enough to wander but a parent is always hovering nearby. Soon the guard phase will be over, and the chicks will be on their own all day long.

The island at the tip of the point is buzzing with life. On the left, red billed gulls (which have seen large population drops in recent years (Mills, et al. 2008)) are nesting and on the right, white fronted terns are doing the same. It is a raucous party all day long, very noisy with birds swooping in and out, squawking over territory, mating, and sitting on nests. The titi (sooty petrels or mutton birds) are in burrows and nearly invisible as are the little blues which may be sitting on a second clutch of eggs.

Red billed gulls on the left…
and white fronted terns on the right.

The white fronted terns are elegant birds; beautiful in flight. They have been away for three years so Rosalie is delighted to see them nesting there again. There are some brand new seal pups around too, but the one I saw was looking a little worse for wear because Mum must have been off fishing.

It’s all happening at XXX.

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One thought on “It’s all Happening at XXX

  1. Wow, Jill, this is interesting and fun. Especially the Lester and Lulu story. I like the part about disciplining adolescents too.

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