Letter from Durden, our Penguin

February 16, 2013

 

Dear Caz

At last we have been able to get a nice photo of our chicks. As you can see from
the photo the chicks have been doing really well and they are growing fast. That’s
because there are lots of fish close to where we live, so the chicks get plenty
of food to eat. The more they eat the faster they grow.

Being able to catch food easily also means we have more time to spend with the
chicks. It is nice for us to spend time relaxing in the nest with the chicks,
but it is also important for the chicks. We spend lots of time grooming the chicks
to get rid of parasites such as ticks and fleas, which suck their blood and make
them sick if we don’t have time to keep the chicks clean.

Because we are adopted, we have kind people who come to visit us to make sure
that we are okay. That is a big help because we have a lot of work bringing back
enough food to feed the hungry chicks.

It takes about an hour to reach the beach from where our nest is. It is not very
far, but penguins don’t walk very quickly. Then we have to swim about 20km to
where the fish are before we can begin catching them. This takes over an hour
to swim the 20km. Then after catching lots of fish we have to swim the 20km back
home and walk back to the nest with the food for the chicks.

The whole journey takes about 12 hours, and we do it every day. It would take
a lot longer if there were less fish to catch. We set off in the early morning
and return in the afternoon. Luckily in mid summer it is daylight by 4 o’clock
in the morning, and it does not get dark until 11 o’clock at night, so we have
plenty of time to do it all in a day, and still have time to spend with the chicks.
That is the reason that we move here in the summer, because the days are very
long here in summer, making it easier to catch food for the chicks in a single
day.

Now that the chicks are bigger we both have to go to sea in order to bring back
enough food to satisfy their hunger. So the chicks are left on their own for
several hours each day. Of course the chicks get bored, so now that they are
big enough to leave the nest, they go and play with their friends in the neighbouring
nests.

It will not be long before the chicks are ready to leave the nest and head out
into the open ocean to begin life on their own. Before they do that they change
all their fluffy baby feathers for sleek waterproof feathers like ours. This
is important because the baby feathers are only for use on dry land. They soak
up water like a sponge if they get wet, but our feathers are waterproof and made
for the water.

But until then there is lots of work to be done, so I will write to you again
when the chicks are leaving the nest and heading out to sea.

Lots of love from Durden

A 171

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