Monday 9 December 2013

Little Blue Penguins & Black Backed Gulls- Moturata Island

Today we walked out to Moturata Island just off shore from the Taieri River mouth to see what birds were making the island home.  It's the nesting season on the island & it's a very sensitive area so we were well aware that we had to take our time & try not to disturb the birds too much. The island is only accessible at low tide and only for about 40 minutes either side so our timing had to be precise. The waves start rolling back in and over the sand spit spilling into the river very quickly once the tide turns. We didn't want to get caught out over there like a family staying at the campground did last summer. They had to be rescued by local boats after dark & then only because someone on the shore heard cries for help.

To give us plenty of time we left for the island two hours before low tide and had to wade through shin deep water for quite a way but at least we knew we'd have plenty of time.

Once near the island we could see that most of the rocky cliffs contained dozens & dozens of Black Backed Gulls (Karoro) and their fluffy grey chicks of varying sizes. The chicks were everywhere and very well camouflaged but if we stayed still long enough we'd catch them moving. There were quite a few down at ground level, maybe they've fallen off their rocky ledge at some stage.

We found a couple of Little Blue Penguins(Korora) under some rocks and in a burrow nesting, there were signs everywhere that there were plenty of penguins about. And it didn't take us long to find these Little Blue in a rocky crevasse, seven in total, what a treat! They didn't seem to be at all perturbed that we were peering in at them. None looked like they were nesting (just resting) so I took the opportunity of grabbing a few shots before leaving them in peace. A couple had a brown tinge to their feathers & I need to do some research to see if perhaps they were juveniles.

We found a stoney alcove away from the noisy gulls & where we weren't disturbing the birds to have lunch before leaving for the mainland well in advance of the incoming tide.

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