Up until now I have tried to update the world on the penguin numbers each month from the Oamaru Blue Penguin Colony in the first few days of the new month, so I apologise for the relative tardiness of the numbers for December. However, it’s for a good reason–things in Oamaru have been JUMPING ever since before Christmas, with the town chock-full of visitors enjoying this charming corner of NZ during one of the busiest times of the year.
Those visitors will have been in for some amazing weather, incidentally, from an amazingly hot and sunny Christmas and a similarly balmy first weekend of the new year, to chilly weather and even snow in the higher reaches of the mountains nearby, and a few thunderstorms thrown in for good measure in between.
But the weather does not bother the penguins (in fact, in my experience, they seem to prefer to come in from the sea during inclement weather, making for better viewing for those visitors willing to put up with a bit of chill or drizzle), and in December their numbers were pretty steady throughout the month, from a low of 135 on 24 December to a high of 252 on the 12th. This is the time of year when the penguins are just getting ready for a second clutch of eggs to be laid, so they’re building up their reserves and preparing their nests for a long sit-in while the eggs incubate and then hatch.
If you’re curious to see how the year-long arrival numbers look, here is a chart that tracks the first-hour arrival numbers for the duration of 2012:
As you can see, the highest numbers are in spring and summer (November to January), with another spike in autumn (April-May) and mid-winter (July), but the important thing to note is that there is no time of the year when no penguins come in–they’re a year-round phenomenon here in Oamaru, and they’re always dressed for your visit!