Exploring Penguin Island, Western Australia

Penguin Island is a nature reserve about 500m off the coast of Rockingham and home of the little blue penguin.

On Sunday May 7 2017 my son and I decided to go and explore Penguin Island. Arriving at the departure point I immediately spotted a wattle as well as a sign saying Beware of Snakes - a reminder that even though there are dunes and vegetation to not go wandering off the paths as I usually do and keep an eye out for snakes!

Penguin Island is connected by a sand bar that is shallow enough to walk. However as we do not know the currents here we took the 5 minute boat trip boat across. We could easily see the bottom of sand bar, which also had alot of eel grass - not the species that grows at home though. I also saw eckolonia ratiata washed up and flocks of pied shags (Phalacrocorax varius) flying around but too swift to get good photos :(

From the jetty we went to the Discovery centre and passed 100's of seagulls that were hanging around in the vegetation beside the boardwalk and totally ignoring humans. Their bills have a black tip and when I go the photos up here I found out that these are not the red billed gulls of home, but the Silver Gull (Chroicocephalus novaehollandiae).

Arriving at the discovery centre we spent alot of time there while I photograhed the little blue penguins that live at the centre. The wild population are out at sea during the day so this was the best opportunity to get photos of these little birds.

Next we were off to the beaches and coastline. Tides are not really a factor here as there is only about 200mm between high and low so the coastline can be explored anytime and the west side of the island is the only open sea of the Indian Ocean and the only place on the island where there was at least some surf pounding. I was fortuate enough to be shouted a 3mm body suit, dive socks and boots so wading around was not a problem LOL We spend about 5 hours exploring rocks all around the island looking for marine life and again it was reinforced to me how lucky I am that my tribal area has marine life everywhere, as here there was not much, with home being the enchmark for me. An intersting find was the Little Blue Periwinkle (Nodilittorina unifasciata) similar to out blue banded periwinkle, but bigger. Also found a few limpets, a couple of chitons and a jellyfish as well as the Purple Rock Crab (Leptograpsus variegatus which lurks around home.

Birds here include the Willie Wagtail (Rhipidura leucophrys), and the Great Crested Tern (Thalasseus bergii) and I could tell it was a tern but had to wait until I was home to find the species. The tricky bird was the Australasian Darter (Anhinga novaehollandiae) which from a distance looked like a black shag, but when I got those photos loaded that is when I found out what it was.

The signs around here explaining about the plants and wildlife are general helpful but specifically useless. For example a sign said the limestone areas are vegetated by the berry saltbush and the wild grape, otherwise known as the mitre bush but I can not find the real name for the wild grape or the mitre bush which is what I photographed so resorted to "plants" again LOL

Below is a selection of what I found.

Posted by tangatawhenua tangatawhenua, May 16, 2017 02:49

Observations

Photos / Sounds

Observer

tangatawhenua

Date

May 7, 2017 03:22 PM NZST

Description

At the beach.

Can see sand - CHECK
Can see wattle - CHECK

Wait ... can see sign warning about snakes - must be in Aus and not home!

Photos / Sounds

What

Silver Gull (Chroicocephalus novaehollandiae)

Observer

tangatawhenua

Date

May 7, 2017 04:02 PM NZST

Description

Not sure if this is the right species because of the black tipped bill.

Photos / Sounds

What

Little Penguin (Eudyptula minor)

Observer

tangatawhenua

Date

May 7, 2017 04:11 PM NZST

Description

Hanging out

Photos / Sounds

What

Common Kelp (Ecklonia radiata)

Observer

tangatawhenua

Date

May 7, 2017 03:41 PM NZST

Description

I think.

Photos / Sounds

What

Great Crested Tern (Thalasseus bergii)

Observer

tangatawhenua

Date

May 2017

Description

Side profile showing the crest

Photos / Sounds

What

Little Blue Periwinkle (Austrolittorina unifasciata)

Observer

tangatawhenua

Date

May 7, 2017 04:32 PM NZST

Description

Small snail shells, like the blue banded periwinkle of home.

Photos / Sounds

What

Pied Shag (Phalacrocorax varius)

Observer

tangatawhenua

Date

May 7, 2017 04:43 PM NZST

Description

I think this is the species for here

Photos / Sounds

What

Amaranths (Family Amaranthaceae)

Observer

tangatawhenua

Date

May 7, 2017 05:13 PM NZST

Description

The sign said "the limestone areas are vegetated by the berry saltbush and the wild grape, otherwise known as the mitre bush but I can not find the real name for the wild grape or the mitre bush so will have to start with vascular plants.

Photos / Sounds

What

Purple Rock Crab (Leptograpsus variegatus)

Observer

tangatawhenua

Date

May 7, 2017 06:01 PM NZST

Description

Lurking in the rocks.

Photos / Sounds

What

Willie Wagtail (Rhipidura leucophrys)

Observer

tangatawhenua

Date

May 7, 2017 06:18 PM NZST

Description

I think this is the willie wagtail.

Photos / Sounds

What

King's Skink (Egernia kingii)

Observer

tangatawhenua

Date

May 7, 2017 06:36 PM NZST

Description

After finishing a meal (those photos are blurry) this one wandered off into the undergrowth. By the raised broadwalk.

Photos / Sounds

What

Australasian Darter (Anhinga novaehollandiae)

Observer

tangatawhenua

Date

May 7, 2017 06:39 PM NZST

Description

Yawning as the tourist go by

Comments

Really interesting read! And also interesting that you found less marine life in the pools. Neat to see new stuff as well as the occasional 'familiar'.

Posted by heni over 5 years ago (Flag)

Really like the Neat to see new stuff as well as the occasional 'familiar'. - so well put @heni :)

Posted by tangatawhenua over 5 years ago (Flag)

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