Wednesday, October 9, 2013

Club works to protect penguins

ray smith, george iles and chris coulter 

MYTCHALL BRANSGROVE/ Fairfax NZ. PENGUIN PROTECTION: Ray Smith, of the Timaru Yacht and Power Boat Club, left, along with DOC partnership rangers George Iles and Chris Coulter, plant native trees at the club to protect penguins living in the area.


Timaru penguins are getting another slice of Caroline Bay to officially call home.

The Timaru Yacht and Power Boat Club, in conjunction with the Department of Conservation, has started developing the area around the club to protect little blue penguins living there.
Representatives of both groups met yesterday to start work, including planting trees and shrubs. The project has doubled as a beautification project for the club.

Ribbonwoods, coprosma and cabbage trees are now lining a fence at the back of the club. Penguin boxes, yet to be built by children at Bluestone School, will also be placed in the area. The school has already built some boxes, which are being used by the penguins at various locations along Marine Parade.
DOC partnership ranger George Iles said the trees would provide shade for the penguin boxes, while also giving the penguins privacy.

"I think it's brilliant the yacht club is working in with this project because the penguins are already here in this area."
Some of the "very early" chicks could soon be ready to hatch, Mr Iles said.

Club commodore Andy White said while the club wanted to do its bit to protect the birds, its aim is to also protect property after some of the penguins were found nesting in the club's sheds.
"It's just to give them somewhere, where they can nest more safely.

"When they come into the club area they are more vulnerable to cars and dogs and things like that."
DOC is also planning a penguin count, with the help of the public, in December, making it the second event of its kind in the district. Last year 50 of the birds were spotted.

"The count will be an annual thing. We want to involve the community in the next count too because they depend on their community for survival."
Mr Iles also plans to have interpretation panels placed along Marine Parade. The panels will be designed to inform the public what the penguins are doing at different stages of the year, the best way to go about watching them and to encourage people to protect the birds.

"If they see people doing things they shouldn't do they might feel empowered to speak to them."
Mr Iles said with the community's help, Timaru's little blue penguin population has the potential to grow to the same level as Oamaru's.
"I don't see why not. It started from the same place," he said.


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