Sunday, 26 February 2017

The Dance of the Hoiho- Part 1

Catch-up (Jan 13th, 2017)

I didn't quite get to post about the best Catlin experience of them all- not one but two encounters with the beautiful Yellow-eyed Penguin/Hoiho at Porpoise Bay. I don't like to anthropomorphize them but they are just so darn cute & comical it's easy to put a caption to their every move. 

We were still staying at the NZMCA Park at Niagara where, you'll recall, the weather was really grotty. But I wanted to locate some penguins before we left; we'd had an awesome experience with some the last time we visited the Catlins and I wanted a repeat. So, around 5:30am on a cold and drizzly summer morning, I dragged myself out of bed and headed to Curio Bay 12kms away. 

I took the Netspeed modem and my laptop with me so I could check for emails at the lookout too, the only spot for miles that we could get reception. As I drove through the Curio Bay campground towards the lookout, I couldn't believe my eyes, dead ahead of me, right on the edge of the Porpoise Bay lookout carpark were two Yellow-eyed Penguins, one waddling straight towards me. 

I quickly pulled in, grabbed my camera and spent the next two hours in the company of a couple of gorgeous penguins. I could have sat all day watching them, mind you, you nearly have to. They walk 10 paces, stop and preen for 10 minutes then walk another 10 paces, stop, preen, walk, stop, preen...

And now for the captions- the photos are in sequence too (Remember to click to enlarge & use your back arrow to return)...

You wait here, I forgot something and I also need to check on the baby (we're leaving him for the day to go fishing)-


Oohhh.....she still has that cute butt I fell in love with...


OK darling, I'll just do a little pre-moult preening while I wait (I'm not looking forward to this 4 week moulting palaver that happens soon, it drives me crazy every year)...


Oops...where did she come from, I thought we had the place to ourselves...


I'll throw her off the scent, I'll zig-zag my way up the road then she won't know we have a nest and baby up here in the flax bushes...


Just get a move on, I'm getting hungry (what the heck has she forgotten this time)...


I might as well have a little snooze while I wait...


I'm coming, I'm coming. I just find when I follow the track through the grass it catches in my feathers, I'm sure she didn't see me sneaking through the first part so I'm now safe to waddle down the road...
(this is a favourite photo, you just don't expect to see a penguin on a road- and such a busy one once tourists are about)



Hurry up, hurry up, we need to get going before this carpark fills with people who have slept in but arrive expecting to see us or our friendly neighbours, those Mickey Mouse dolphins...


Is that you? Yes that's me. Oooh that's good...


Let's go then...



Are you sure that's you?


YES, it's me...


OK, I just want to make doubly sure... I just can't get to those pesky feathers under my chin...me neither...


I'm off, catch up when you've finished checking for loose feathers...


I'm coming, wait for me...


In the photo above you can see the head of the first penguin making his way through the grass, half way up from the sign and just below the flax, they have their own track down to the human's track to the beach. There was a poor attempt at roping off the area, with no signs saying why, so most people stepped over it during the day (you'll see why that's a problem in Part 2).


After a fair bit of  'stop, preen, go, stop, preen, go', the pair made it down to the rocks below the track.


Watch out for slippery rocks, you know you always stumble...


Wait, is this one slippery?


King of all I survey....well this corner of Porpoise Bay anyway...


I'm not waiting for you any longer, slippery rocks or not!


Hmmm....she might not tickle my chin if I don't...


I'm coming, don't be so impatient...


I moved around to the other side of the pair to get some better light as the sun rose- this is another favourite photo...


Oooohhh......that's colder than I thought...


The Dance of the Hoiho- greeting each other at every opportunity, preening each other & reaffirming their partnership every step of the way.



Don't be scared, I'll hold your hand...


They swam around in the shallows for at least 15 minutes, ducking and diving...


...and preening, preening, constantly preening. The moult hasn't begun for these two yet, they're just getting ready. For the next few weeks they'll stay close to their home base building up reserves for when they aren't able to go to sea as they wait for their new feathers to become waterproof.


They eventually swam off and it was time for me to head off too. That's Waikawa and Niagara under the rain cloud at the back of the bay, I can just imagine David laying in bed listening to the rain on the roof and thinking 'she's mad, thank God I didn't go'.


I wouldn't have missed it for the world- just me and a couple of penguins.



To be continued...

8 comments:

  1. Shellie, You have certainly exceeded your past excellent writing and photography with this posting. Mr. Brown

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    1. Why, thankyou Mr Brown, glad you enjoyed the penguin blogs.

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  2. That was a special time and you captured it so beautifully.

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    1. It sure was, thanks Carol, much appreciated.

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  3. As always, the most beautiful photos. Loved your running commentary too.

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    1. Thanks Jenny, glad you enjoyed the penguin blog (and the commentary, it just fell into place).

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  4. Hehehe just loved this. will look for them when we get there..Joan 5566

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    1. Hope they're still there when you visit Joan, glad you enjoyed the blog.

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Thanks for taking the time to comment, it's much appreciated.