Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Penguins Seeking Homes

A group of penguins seeks shelter under a bush at the refuge. Photo by Lorraine Adams.

Penguins seeking homes

By David Bruce on Sat, 4 Oct 2008
The Regions: North Otago | Your Town: Oamaru

The plight of homeless penguins at the Oamaru Creek refuge is upsetting Coastcare environmentalist Lorraine Adams.

She said the birds had no nesting sites, despite her attempts to put more nesting boxes in the refuge which stretches along the Oamaru foreshore from Holmes Wharf to the Oamaru Creek.

But the Oamaru blue penguin colony, which monitors the refuge on behalf of the Department of Conservation has not recorded any problems.

Monitoring was carried out daily and if problems were recorded they would be addressed, in consultation with the department, colony manager Jason Gaskill said.

Miss Adams said the situation had been aggravated by coastal erosion, which has washed away a large area of the refuge at its southern end.

Erosion protection work on the foreshore further north may also have buried potential nesting sites, forcing those penguins to the refuge.

Penguins are now preparing for the breeding season and Miss Adams said there were birds without nesting sites.

Some were trying to dig burrows because of a lack of nesting boxes.

"I've never seen so many penguins with nowhere to go," Miss Adams said.

Erosion had washed away rocks which had also provided nesting places and she had had to dig a path up the eroded bank to they could get to the reserve at the south end.

Miss Adams has been campaigning to have the refuge area enlarged, both before and after erosion which has reduced its area.

She estimated about 30 penguins were without nesting sites and at least 30 more boxes were needed.

Mr Gaskill said nothing had shown up in monitoring to indicate there was a problem relating to erosion or with nesting sites.

He said if people had problems or concerns about the refuge they should contact him.

Story and image courtesy of The Otago Daily Times

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