On the fourth day of our trip, we went to an island offshore of Auckland called Tiritiri Matangi, in search of kiwis and many other native birds. All of the predators that have been decimating New Zealand wildlife and birds have been painstakingly removed from this island and the island has been replanted with hundreds of thousands of native trees and shrubs, largely through the massive efforts of volunteers. Then, native birds have been introduced and a couple of species probably wouldn’t survive without this and a few other similar islands where they get relief from stoats, ferrets, possums, rats, mice, cats, and dogs.
And here are some of my partners in birding – from the left, a volunteer researcher, our guide Sav Saville, Mike (the most ardent photographer among our group), and Don. Mike’s wife Barb rounded out our group – she was up the trail taking video of parakeets at the time.
One trail on the island led down to the beach and advised that we could see penguins in a box (nesting boxes, that is). Well, I don’t know about you, but the idea of penguins in a box just struck me as inordinately funny, in a Monty Pythonesque sort of way. I couldn’t really believe it, but there were indeed penguins in boxes – really burrows in the ground with glass ceilings for people to look in.
From then on, we had the penguin-in-the-box joke – I just HAD to buy a little stuffed blue penguin in a little box, then there were penguins on postcards in the postbox, etc. But the real penguins were pretty cool.
We also saw a Yellow-Eyed Penguin nesting colony on the east coast of the south island at Oamaru and got to see the penguins coming in from the ocean, walking up the beach, and climbing up to their nesting/molting sites on the hillside. It turns out that penguins climb hills really well, which is just weird. I mean, these were steep hills. But who knows what they’ll do, if they’ll nest in boxes :D