Several recent posts have been about birds that I saw on Penguin Island, but there’s plenty more wildlife to see there. It’s a great day out too. It’s just a 10 minute boat ride from the mainland or, if you like kayaking, you can kayak from the shore on a trip or in your own kayak. The boats don’t run during the winter because the island is closed during the penguins‘ breeding season.
This is the view from the top of the island looking back to the mainland. Plenty of people come over for a day on the beach with a picnic. It’s a good snorkelling spot too. Lots of visitors also go on the boat trip over to Seal Island or go dolphin watching.
The 2 pelican breeding sites are amazing to see. The chicks look even more clumsy than the parents, with wings and legs seeming to stick out at all angles. Each site looks very disorganised with chicks just lying scattered. They don’t appear to have nests. Maybe with a lack of predators and the warm temperatures they don’t need a nest.
Another common sight are the buff-banded rails. There are several on the island, but the ones near the visitor centre don’t have the level of shyness that you’d expect. They don’t come out at the height of picnic time, but when it’s a bit quieter they often come onto the lawn.
It’s well known for its King’s Skinks. If you try to have a picnic by the visitors centre they’ll come right up and hope for scraps.
These oyster catchers were having a good stretch while I watched.
Naturally there are plenty of gulls on the island. This little chick was feeling very shy. Patience paid off and it eventually came out of the bushes to join its mum.
There are lots of wierd rock formations over the island. A tern took advantage of this stack to make its nest.
I won’t subject you to any photos of me snorkelling, but there are snorkelling sites around and if you are lucky you might just be joined by one of the dolphins.
You’ve no idea how long it’s possible to spend thinking up bad tern puns (taking terns, one good tern deserves another etc etc.) If you know much about terns please feel free to help me identify the mystery tern and correct any that I’ve mistaken in this post, because many look so similar.
These pictures were taken a couple of weeks ago on Penguin Island. The majority of the terns there are crested terns. The most amazing and chaotic site and sight was on the far side of the island, where I found a nursery. Literally hundreds of crested tern chicks scuttling around in what looked like a herd.
Tern Coming in to land
The adults were flying in with fish in their beaks and then flying over the nursery looking for their young. All the chicks were shouting at once.
The other adults, including plenty of gulls, would try and steal the fish before the parent found its young.Those that managed to get a fish as far as the ground were then surrounded by birds all wanting to have a share.
This youngster had managed to catch his own lunch.
There were also plenty of bridled terns, with a horizontal black line across the eye. Not very shy and would let me get really close.
This one’s a fairy tern, much smaller than the crested terns. I only saw a couple of them compared to hundreds of crested terns.
And here’s my mystery tern. Red coloured beak, but dark legs. Caspian Tern? Should have black on its beak. Lesser Crested Tern? Doesn’t live in that area acording to my book. Roseate Tern? Should have red legs then to match its beak. Arctic tern? Wrong coloured legs and shouldn’t land on Penguin Island. So, my best guess is Caspian Tern, but hopefully someone will be able to identify it for certain.
The Australian Sea Lion becomes the first non-bird wildlife to make it onto my bird-flavoured blog, largely because we recently had a visit from this one.
Australian Sea Lion
My husband and eldest son went out in the kayaks when it chose to join them. They didn’t get a photo of it when it was right next to their paddles as they were concentrating on not being tipped out if it knocked into them. It was just curious though, and was happy to swim round them for a couple of minutes. Then they watched it as it went off hunting. To their surprise, it brought back its next catch (a small octopus), apparently just to show it off to them.
When they returned it was my turn to go out and, luckily, the sea lion was still there, so I was able to see it too. In fact, it stayed on this stretch of coast for 2 days.
Sea Lion at Seal Island
The first time I saw one was on a trip to Seal Island from Penguin Island, south of Perth. There’s a breeding colony there. We watched one jump out of the water and over the bow of a passing kayak. They’re quite playful animals and can be quite like playful dogs at times. Last time I visited Seal Island I watched one playing with a stick and chasing seagulls.
Sea Lions and Birds on Seal Island
You can see just how many birds they have to share the island with. There’s a breeding colony of pelicans there, pied cormorants, little penguins, ospreys, terns and seagulls.
Sadly, there are estimated to be just 11,000 – 15,000 Australian sea lions left in the wild, and they are only found off the South West coast of Australia. Hopefully their numbers may increase with the protection they now receive and also the protection of the fish stock in the region.
Australian Sea Lions at Seal Island