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Penguins Photographed in their Breeding Colonies on New Zealand's Otago Peninsula, Fiordland and West Coast

Penguins are part of the Spheniscidae family of birds, which belongs to the Sphenisciformes order of seabirds and there are just seventeen species. I photographed three; the yellow-eyed penguins (Megadyptes antipodes), Fiordland Penguins (Eudyptes pachyrhynchus) and little penguins (Eudyptula minor) in New Zealand South Island.

Two of the penguins are New Zealand endemic species, both are IUCN red listed; the yellow-eyed is endangered and the Fiordland is vulnerable.

Yellow-eyed penguins are probably the rarest, the population is in decline with an estimated total population is around 5000 with less than 2000 breeding pairs, an estimated quarter of which breed on the South Island's East Coast. The Otago Peninsula population is suffering from avian diphtheria and has nearly halved since I photographed them 2012.

Fiordland penguins are also in decline with around 2,500 to 3000 breeding pairs. They nest on Stewart Island, Solander Island and the New Zealand's south and west coast.

The native little penguin range is around all New Zealand’s coasts and most of the southern Australian coastline (Western Australia to New South Wales and Tasmania). There are around a million birds.

Yellow-eyed Penguin

The Otago Peninsular has several yellow-eyed breeding colonies I have visited four: Pipikaretu Beach, Sandfly Bay, Pilots Beach and Penguin Beach and captured their images.

Pipikaretu Beach (Penguin Place) and Penguin Beach (Natures Wonders) are located on working farms, both are tourist attractions and they re-invest entrance money to conserve and support the penguins. Penguin Place is a great place to photograph the penguins, Natures Wonders less so. In 2015, at Penguin Place I was able to photograph three different birds, a female on the nest and two males that both came up the grassy cliff slope from the sea.

In 2012, at Pilots Beach I watched an immature bird cross the boulder-strewn beach, from the cliff to the water's edge, wait for the incoming tide and then take a swim, this took about forty minutes.

Sandfly Bay is on Otago Peninsula’s southern shore at the end of Seal Point Road. The colonies viewing hide is at the far end of the beach reached from the carpark by climbing down the sand dunes and walking 800 m along the beach where sea lions and seal haul out. In the late afternoon from the hide, I managed to photograph one individual on the rocky part of the shore, as can be seen in the images it had deep gash on its back. The bird wandered around, preened itself and then after about fifteen minutes laid-down.

Fiordland and Little Penguins

I photographed Fiordland penguins on an island at the entrance to Doubtful Sound and on Munro Beach on Zealand's south west coast. These species are probably the most difficult to find and photograph as getting close without disturbing the birds is difficult.

There are several little penguin colonies on the Otago Peninsula; the largest at Pilots Beach, which has a viewing area with access managed by the Albatross Centre. The birds return to their colonies after dark, non-flash photography is allowed. I photographed the little penguin chick at Penguin Beach.

Featured Penguins, Sphenisciformes order

Spheniscidae (Penguins) family

Yellow-eyed Penguin (Megadyptes antipodes) [EN] {M&F}

Little Blue Penguin (Eudyptula minor)

Fiordland Penguin (Eudyptes pachyrhynchus) [VU]

Abbreviations

IUCN: International Union for Conservation of Nature

IUCN Red List Category: [EN] Endangered, [VU] Vulnerable

{M} Male, {F} Female

Male Yellow-eyed Penguin (Megadyptes antipodes), Pipikaretu Beach, Otago Peninsula, New Zealand, 2015 Yellow-eyed Penguin (Megadyptes antipodes), Female on Nest, Pipikaretu Beach, Otago Peninsula, New Zealand, 2015 Male Yellow-eyed Penguin (Megadyptes antipodes), Pipikaretu Beach, Otago Peninsula, New Zealand, 2015 Male Yellow-eyed Penguin (Megadyptes antipodes), Pipikaretu Beach, Otago Peninsula, New Zealand, 2015 Male Yellow-eyed Penguin (Megadyptes antipodes), Pipikaretu Beach, Otago Peninsula, New Zealand, 2015 Male Yellow-eyed Penguin (Megadyptes antipodes), Pipikaretu Beach, Otago Peninsula, New Zealand, 2015 Immature Yellow-eyed Penguin (Megadyptes antipodes), on Pilots Beach, Otago Peninsula, New Zealand, 2012 Immature Yellow-eyed Penguin (Megadyptes antipodes), on Pilots Beach, Otago Peninsula, New Zealand, 2012 Immature Yellow-eyed Penguin (Megadyptes antipodes), on Pilots Beach, Otago Peninsula, New Zealand, 2012 Immature Yellow-eyed Penguin (Megadyptes antipodes), swimming at Pilots Beach, Otago Peninsula, New Zealand, 2012 Yellow-eyed Penguin (Megadyptes antipodes) on the beach at Sandfly Bay, Otago Peninsula, New Zealand, 2012 Yellow-eyed Penguin (Megadyptes antipodes) on the beach at Sandfly Bay, Otago Peninsula, New Zealand, 2012 Fiordland Penguin (Eudyptes pachyrhynchus) and New Zealand Fur Seal, Doubtful Sound, Southland, New Zealand, 2015 Fiordland Penguin (Eudyptes pachyrhynchus), On Monro Beach, West Coast, New Zealand, 2015 Two Fiordland Penguins (Eudyptes pachyrhynchus), Going to Sea, Monro Beach, West Coast, New Zealand, 2015 Fiordland Penguin (Eudyptes pachyrhynchus), On Monro Beach, West Coast, New Zealand, 2015 Immature Little Penguin (Eudyptula minor) in nest, Otago Peninsula, New Zealand, 2012 Little Penguins (Eudyptula minor), Pilots Beach, Otago Peninsula, New Zealand, 2015 Little Penguins (Eudyptula minor), Pilots Beach, Otago Peninsula, New Zealand, 2015 Little Penguin (Eudyptula minor), Pilots Beach, Otago Peninsula, New Zealand, 2015