Went on my first Little Penguin rescue today for Wildlife Victoria. I live a few kms east of St Kilda Beach, which is home to a small Little Penguin colony on a jetty in Port Phillip Bay. A large fence keeps tourists from shoving lenses in their beaks and trampling over their turf but you can occasionally see them swimming in the bay near the shoreline.
Obviously they're freakin' adorable. They're Little Penguins.
St Kilda pier.
Call came in this morning from a woman named Nicola who said she saw one with an injured leg and wing. I hurried to the foreshore, parked illegally close to the pier, grabbed a carrier and net from the boot of my car, and walked to the end of the pier. Passed a handful of shady looking fisherman and locals enjoying a magnificent Monday morning. Got to the pier's end but didn't see any penguins. Called Nicola for additional info but got no answer. Walked down to a short boardwalk along the jetty and was set to call WV to say the Little Penguin couldn't be found when there it was, behind a wooden stairway leading back up the jetty. A pair of tourists were walking down the stairway as I put my net together and prepared to step into a foot of water. They squealed when I pointed out the Little Penguin sitting pensively and alone. I asked them to distract him quietly as I worked my net near the tiny waterbird. Laying it over top of him was enough to capture him without undue stress to the bird, me or the two girls.
Giving me the stink eye.
The Little Penguin wasn't at all happy with being put in a box but that's a good sign. I drove us both to Williamstown Vet and passed him along to a vet who would be sure their wildlife specialist would have a look at him ASAP. If deemed fit the bird will go to a carer for rehabilitation and then released at Phillip Island, where a large population draws tourists to daily 'penguin parades'.
In other words, he'd better get used to having his beak photographed.