STRANGER ON THE SHORE – MACARONI PENGUIN

Avian Leisure is situated directly above the Boulders Coastal Park that is home to over 1200 pairs of African Penguin. These delightful almost gnome like residents of our coastline are tame and highly confiding providing hours of entertainment as they go about their daily routines in the most endearing manner. In fact sitting on one of the boulders at dusk watching rafts of penguins coming ashore for the night is a delightful experience rich in photographic opportunity.

Over the years I have diligently scanned the collective gathering in the hope of sighting one of the vagrant penguin species recorded infrequently along our coast that may have been enticed into joining the vocal throng of resident species during the latter part of the austral summer. Such vigilance has to date been to no avail leading me to believe I should just get on and pay the price of heading south to Antarctica for sightings of King, Gentoo, Macaroni and Rockhopper Penguin so far recorded as ‘rarities’ in South Africa.

Well as it so happens a few weekends back while enjoying a light lunch in one of our local restaurants by the name of ‘Cest la Vie’ my cellphone went off in strident mode alerting me to the presence of a ‘mega rarity’ in the immediate area.

Such news is always welcome and immediately triggers the ‘twitcher’ within me as my stagnant SA list has recorded only one new listing in the past three years. And so it was: ‘an adult Macaroni Penguin in moult on the shore of a remote bay west of Cape Agulhas some 200kms away’ The very encounter I had been waiting for and the chance of an up close and personal sighting but for a host of pressing weekend engagements already agreed to…

Anyway to cut a long story short and after pledging a great deal in return I managed to get a ‘green ticket’ and set off the next morning with directions in hand and Marie Louise for company in this latest quest… In this regard we were not to be disappointed and were able to enjoy privileged views of this very special visitor to our shores that represented the ninth documented sighting. As can be seen from the images the annual moult was well underway and the penguin departed the scene in fresh plumage the following week.

So all in all a great weekend around an unexpected arrival and a great

addition to my SA list, which is now 869…

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