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The March of the Little Penguins

The Little Penguin is the smallest of the world’s 18 penguin species; just 45 centimetres tall. And weighing between one and two kilograms.

The Little Penguin, like most penguins, live in colonies. They gather on the beach at sunrise in groups called rafts. When all the penguins are on the beach, the raft enters the water. They spend the day out at sea, fishing. They return at sunset.

Today we went to Pilot Beach on Otago Peninsula to watch them return. We first spotted them when they were about 100 metres offshore. It looked like a swarm of something black in the water. If it had been above water, one might think that it was a swarm of locusts or flies. It was teardrop shaped with most of the penguins near the front and getting thinner towards the back. This big black thing went across the harbour and then turned toward the beach. As it got to the beach, the penguins began to appear.

They are the cutest little animals I have ever seen. They are a bluish-grey on the back and white on the front. Most penguins are black and white. We had a great spot to view them as they came up the hill from the beach. First they had to climb over a field of large rocks, then up the steep hill. They go surprisingly fast up the hill to their nests. It is a good five minute walk for a human. These little guys do it surprisingly fast on their little legs.

We were not allowed to use flash so I couldn’t get any still photos of them in the dark but we managed to get a little movies of them. (see above).

It was a real thrill to see them marching up the hill. It was over all too fast. We spent the night at a campground out on the peninsula rather than drive the narrow, windy Otaga Peninsula road back to the city in the dark.

(Have been staying in places that don't have internet. Will try to catch up soon)

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