2014 began with a penguin.
After the inevitable post-celebratory ditherings of the post-NYE morning, a few of the assembled rabble, myself included, managed to make our way out of the Bicheno shack, and down to the local supermarket, via the beach.
The rocks of the Bicheno coast are a fabulous conglomeration of rounded, lichen-spattered granite, piled along the coastline, backed by weedy coastal scrub. One of the first things you notice upon descending to the coastal edge is the malodorous stench of that most hilarious of birds, the little, or less politically correctly, fairy penguin, Eudyptula minor. These fat little buffoons of the bird world breed along the coast here, both on the mainland and offshore islands, and their presence is marked by well-worn little runways in the coastal scrub. It is breeding season, and most of the baby birds spend their days huddled in their nests, waiting for their parents to return from the sea with some tasty, regurgitated fish for their dinner.
Today however, one had apparently found its way out of the family burrow, and had taken a toddle down the rocks towards the sea. George spotted it hunched under a low granite outcrop, peering suspiciously at us from its hiding place. I’m not sure if it was a well-developed baby, or an adult recovering from it’s own New Year’s party, and couldn’t resist the urge to take a dodgy picture of it on my grotty clever-phone.