Ian’s Bird of the Week – African Penguin

African Penguin by Ian

African Penguin by Ian

Newsletter – 7/16/2009

Well now, as they say, for something completely different here is the African Penguin. I was reviewing the contents of the website a few days ago, and noticed that there weren’t any penguins. Not having yet succeeded in photographing the only resident Penguin resident in mainland Australia, the Little Penguin, I rectified this by digging out some photos of what used to be called Jackass Penguins that I took in South Africa in 2001.

African Penguins strolling by Ian

African Penguins strolling by Ian

You’re right if you think that the background in the first photo isn’t snow, or even sand for that matter, and your suspicions will be confirmed by the second one – the photos were taken in the car park at Boulders Beach south of Cape Town. (The ‘CA’ of the car number plate refers to the old Cape Province.) The penguin colony is right beside the car park, and I found that the car park itself was the easiest place to photograph these very cooperative subjects.

The name Jackass Penguin refers to the braying sound that these birds make but, as their South American relatives make similar noises and this species is the only one resident in Africa, the name African Penguin is now preferred. Being a cynic, I had thought that the name change was for reasons of political correctness. With a length of 63cm/25in this is a smallish but not tiny penguin – much larger than the Little Penguin (40-45cm/16-18in).

It occurs right around southern Africa from Port Elizabeth in the east to northern Namibia in the west. The colony at Boulders Beach is a tourist attraction, and is something of a bad-news/good-news story. The bad news is that feline predators such as leopards have become less common in populated areas, but the good news is that this has allowed the Penguins to establish mainland colonies at a couple of sites near Cape Town. Two pairs first nested at Boulders Beach in 1982 and there are now over 3,000.

On the website, I recently revised the galleries for Storks, including the Jabiru or Black-necked Stork and Bustards, mainly the Australian Bustard though I’ve added a couple of ancient shots (originally on film!) of the rather similar Kori Bustard of Africa for comparison  .

Best wishes,
Ian

Ian Montgomery, Birdway Pty Ltd,
454 Forestry Road, Bluewater, Qld 4818
Phone: +61-7 4751 3115
Preferred Email: ian@birdway.com.au
Website: http://birdway.com.au


See Spheniscidae – Penguin

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