December 2009

The White-flippered penguin population at Harris Bay is increasing with each breeding season and this year is no exception. The numbers of eggs laid and hatched this year is up on last year and the chicks are looking big and healthy so there must be plenty of food in the ocean for the parent birds. Some of the chicks are almost as big as the parents so you can imagine the tight squeeze in the nesting boxes especially if both parents return to shore on the same night. They will continue to feed the young birds until such time as the chicks are big and strong enough to leave for the sea (fledging) and fend for themselves. This happens during the months of January and February.

Two interesting facts have been observed by our resident ornithologist, Dr. Chris Challies. Firstly there is one female parent bird that is leucistic and two of her six chicks from this and previous years have also emerged the same. Leucism is a very unusual condition whereby the pigmentation cells of the penguin fail to develop properly. This can result in unusual white patches appearing amongst the feathers or more rarely, as a completely white bird. This condition differs from albinism.
The other interesting fact noted is that there has been an influx of little blue penguins from Otago into Harris Bay and although they have occupied some nesting boxes and laid eggs, these have yet to hatch. Have they been interbreeding with the White-flippered cousin or do they prefer their own ilk? Watch this space!

October 2009

On Tuesday 6 October the WFPT held its AGM at our Secretary's house where Rae Finlay (Secretary) provided us with refreshments and good wine for the evening.
Once the Treasurer and Chairman had submitted their annual reports, the election of Officers took place where Graham Baldwin stood down as Chairman for the past two years and David Evans was elected in his place. Rae Finlay was confirmed as Secretary/Treasurer for another 12 months and in his absence Hiroshi Naka was appointed Deputy Chairman. The year ends with the Trust in good financial health.

Notable achievements for the year were the printing of our new brochure and the construction of our web site. With a few minor adjustments, this shall be up and running by mid November and the push for new members can begin.
Chris Challies informs us that the current crop of Penguins are looking good and numbers are up on last year. Already over half the clutches have laid and it looks like we are heading for a bumper crop of fledglings.

Meanwhile Chris Challies has been accompanying groups of people to Harris Bay to view the Penguins and this is likely to continue right through November and into December. Each visitor to Harris Bay shall receive a brochure that clearly sets out the aims of the Trust, the history of the White-flippered Penguin and how people can support the Trust through membership. The new web site will be the ultimate link to all the updated information on the Conservation of the bird and how much progress is being made on the Penguin Parade at Boulder Bay.

The Trustees anticipate a busy year ahead as we concentrate on building up our numbers of supporters so to all those good people who have seen the wonderful asset that Canterbury has at Harris Bay, please link into our web site and confirm your support. Your input to our activities will mean the success of the WFPT.