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Leigh Penguin (Kororā) Project - May 24 update

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Leigh Rag

08 June 2024, 9:00 PM

Leigh Penguin (Kororā) Project - May 24 update

In April and May, as we move into the cooler weather, our Korora Little Penguins spend long periods out at sea where they feed in preparation for the upcoming nesting season. In doing this they swim up to twenty-five kilometres offshore, and up to seventy kilometres away from their nesting place, reaching speeds of up to six kilometres an hour. Quite impressive for such a small seabird. They mainly feed on small fish, plankton, squid and shrimp like crustaceans.

The Korora commonly return to burrows, caves, rocky crevices, under tree roots, and of course to nesting boxes every year. It’s not uncommon to see them residing under holiday homes and houses near the sea. Despite being small in stature they can nest in dunes, coastal forests, farmland and rocky areas, up to two hundred metres inland. The Little Penguins often mate for life and return to the same place to lay their eggs and to raise their chicks every year.

Our team of local volunteers still monitor the coast at this time of the year, intermittently seeing evidence of the Korora Little Penguin on footage in the nesting sites monitored by cameras, but also spot guano, and sometimes if the tide is right, footprints. During May’s Leigh Community Day, our volunteers were busy talking about our Korora Little Penguins, answering lots of interesting questions. There was a heart-warming response and a lot of interest in the wellbeing of these precious seabirds. Popular questions are below.

What is the size of our local Korora Little Penguin population?

The Leigh coast, Ti Point and Goat Island populations are very small, compared to the rest of the country, but especially the ones in South Island.

What’s the biggest threat to the survival of these birds?

According to recent studies, sadly 73% of deaths are due to starvation. This is particularly worrying in the Hauraki Gulf. 8% are made up by dog attacks, an additional 8% are struck by boats, and 3% of deaths are caused by fishing equipment. The remaining 8% are undetermined.

What can people do to help protect our local Korora Little Penguins?

An important and hugely positive step that anyone can take is to set up pest control. Catch those pesky vermin. But more importantly, keep your dog on a lead when walking along the coast where the birds nest. The Korora are incredibly vulnerable, especially so when they’ve laid eggs, looking after their young and when the chicks fledge, but also when the adult birds moult. We appreciate any reports of penguin sightings on land.

Madeleine Roberts -The Leigh Penguin Project

[email protected]

Shared with permission from Leigh Rag