South Africa’s most famous penguin colony, Boulders Beach, is action packed at the moment .. and oh boy are those cute little birds getting action!
It’s a lascivious den of iniquity – the beach and surrounding area is crawling with penguins mating and cuddling and courting and all of it boldly done in full view of tourists, kids included who giggle and ask awkward questions. It’s all about the eggs really. Making eggs, sitting on eggs, protecting eggs, hatching eggs.
We’re so privileged to have this treasure on our doorstep. Many Capetonians don’t have the time to drive all the way down to Simon’s Town but we guides have all the luck, we get to visit them all year round.
My best time of day is late afternoon at the end of my favourite tour. The light is lovely and casts long shadows, there are less people round, there are more penguins as they come back from the sea all fattened up, settling down for the night. You can watch the interaction between single penguins clearly looking for trouble as they try to interfere with those protecting their eggs. Here and there a couple will start the process of mating which is hilarious to watch as they rock and over-balance before abandoning the effort, only to try again a few minutes later.
The singletons stand alone – where are their mates? They could be out at sea, they might have fallen prey to a predator, or perhaps they have yet to find one.
The family groups – the young chicks are easy to spot with their grey/brown fluffy down, standing very close to a parent, safe and protected, for now.
Every now and then there is a brief skirmish as a potential interloper is dealt with and a naughty penguin is sent on its way, away from the eggs or the chicks.
I could stand and watch them for hours and luckily most of my clients are happy to do that, too.