Now talk about cute! The Little Blue Penguin, standing only about 10 inches tall, to me, is the cutest of the cute penguins. I saw these tiny birds at the Oamaru Blue Penguin Colony in New Zealand. They have black heads, white chests and indigo-blue tails, where their tails and their size give them their name. They are the smallest species of the world’s penguins.
At the Oamaru Blue Penguin Colony, I sat in bleachers, as if I was watching a sports game or a concert. I was outdoors, in the dark, with artificial lights overhead. Once the sun had set, the penguins would waddle up the beach, and travel beyond the bleachers to their nests for the evening.
Little Blue Penguin..too cute!
Once the Little Blue Penguins had settled in for the evening, I had an opportunity to listen to their sounds, which differed from the noises of the Yellow-Eyed Penguins I had heard during another penguin encounter. The sounds of the Little Blue Penguins were absolutely like nothing I have ever heard before, however. The best way I can describe it is like an orchestra of 1,000 whining and crying babies, in a very good way. It was music to the ears!
My final penguin experience was in Australia at the Phillip Island Nature Park. Here I watched a species of penguin that is only found in Southern Australia, known as the Little Penguins. Yes, again very cute, as these creatures measure only around 13 inches tall. Like the Little Blue Penguins of New Zealand, the Little Penguins wait until after sunset before they come marching ashore to their sand dune burrows.
The home of a Little Blue Penguin, with feathers from molting.
To watch this event, each of us on the beach at sunset was given night vision goggles. It was a great way to see these penguins go from the seas to their homes, as without the goggles, it would have been too dark to see them. I must say that this experience also felt like I was spying on the penguins, as did my experience in the trench-like tunnels at the Yellow-Eyed Penguin Conservation Reserve in Dunedin, New Zealand.
Well, this now concludes my birding experiences with albatross and penguins during my travels to New Zealand and Australia. Very soon, I will be doing a lot more birding, as I head off to the Galapagos Islands off the coast of Ecuador. Here I hope to see the Galapagos Penguins (the only penguin to live on the Equator), the Waved Albatross (the only albatross to live in the tropics), and many other birds, including the Blue-footed Booby (an apparently clumsy seabird found most notably in the Galapagos)!