Tuesday, October 1, 2013

Penguin Parade!

[Robin and Will] On Saturday we went to the penguin parade on Philip Island.

[Will] I expected to see penguins come out to the water to the house. We would watch this and then leave.

[Robin] I expected to see a big wave of penguins come out of the water and up to the beach and... that's it. We would go home after that.

We had two choices for penguin viewing, jut sitting in the grandstand with the crowd or go on a ranger-guided tour.We decided on the ranger guided tour and it was well worth the expense.

Note: sign says no photography beyond this point so everyone
is taking pictures of the rainbows.
Once we got to the penguin parade place, we had to join up with our group.  About 8 people and the ranger in our group. The ranger taught us about penguins and she gave out seats and binoculars and headset to listen to her talk.

[Will] I felt kind of silly walking around with the headset and all this stuff around my neck.

[Robin] I felt kind of cool and special.

[Michele] The listening system didn't work with my hearing aids, which was frustrating. They should get t-coil loops!  I was able to use the system without my hearing aids and along with lip reading and I learned a lot.

When we were about to go down to the beach a double rainbow appeared.  A good sign of things to come.

[Robin] The penguins that we saw are the Little Penguins. The name kind of explains it all. They are the littlest type of penguin in the world and they are only about a foot tall. Victoria is one of the few places in the world that you can see penguins.

[Michele]  Can you see penguins any time of the day?

[R&W] Penguins are best to be seen at dawn and dusk because at dawn they go out of the water and then at dusk they come back to their homes.  They spend most of their time in the water eating. Coming in and out of the water, they have to cross the beach when it is dark because otherwise birds and foxes will eat them.

[Robin] Not many of the penguins came out of the water right in front of us, they were usually a ways down the beach. That is where the binoculars came in handy.

[Michele] What was the cutest thing you saw the penguins do?

picture stolen from the internet since no
photography is allowed
[Will] there was one penguin that go lost and it wandered in front of the grandstand.  It walked right in front of my feet.  Because we were on the ranger-guided tour, we got to sit in the very front

[Robin] The cutest thing that I saw was when we left the grandstand and saw the penguins coming to their homes.  There was one little penguin that was a couple feet in front of us (with a fence between us and the penguins) and it was gathering grass for its nest.  It would grab the grass with its beak and pull and pull and pull until the grass snapped off and take it back to his nest.  That was a male penguin decorating its nest impress the ladies.

[Will] It is breeding season so many females are pregnant.   Some of them walk towards the beach eating shells for the calcium to grow the baby penguins.  This is weird  because most of the penguins are walking away from the beach towards their homes and so when you see a penguin going the wrong way, you might think they are confused but they are just looking for shells.

[Will] Another way that we felt special was that about three times every ten years one of the penguin 'highways' (paths that the penguins take home) floods and becomes a stream.  It was flowing during our visit so we got to watch some penguins swim to their homes instead of walking.

[Robin] Another cool thing about the penguin parade is that it is on the very spot where G'ma Lorna and Uncle Larry spent summer holidays.  They watched the penguin parade too but there wasn't a grandstand back then.  They stayed at their auntie Lorna's house, which was where the gift shop is now, and they scrambled down the cliffs, exploring the penguin burrows and watching them come in from the sea.

The last cool thing is when we were going back to the car, we saw a lost little penguin wandering around in the car park.  Penguins make their homes in the same spot that they were born so when the car park expanded, it took over some former burrows. Some penguins keep trying to go back 'home'. They had to get a ranger to come and chase it to the park.

[Michele] So did the penguin parade exceed your expectations?

[Will] Yes, definitely! I would recommend that everyone have the ranger guided tour, you learn a lot and you get to see more penguins.

[Michele] We enjoyed the experience so much that we were among the very last people to leave the park.

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