Photo: David Jenkins

Photo: David Jenkins

The little penguin chicks that hatched at Manly Wharf in early December are now fully fledged and have left home.

The local population is vulnerable and is the only known breeding population on the NSW mainland. “It’s great to see these chicks heading into the next stage of life, leaving the nest!” said Manly MP James Griffin.

“This second pair of penguin chicks brings the total number of chicks at the wharf for this breeding season to four. We need to make sure we look out for our little local residents, and keep pets like dogs and cats away and inside at night time,” he added.

A team of volunteer penguin wardens works closely with National Parks and Wildlife Service (NPWS) staff at Manly to help protect and conserve this endangered population of little penguins.

It’s also moulting time for the penguins and locals are being urged to help protect them while they are losing their feathers and growing new ones.

NPWS Ranger Mel Tyas said the penguins come out of the water for around two weeks at this time of year while they grow a new set of shiny waterproof feathers. “When the penguins come ashore for moulting they aren’t waterproof, so they find it difficult to avoid predators as they can’t escape to the water,” she explained.

“Penguins can moult anywhere, so in particular we ask that people keep dogs on a lead and away from the harbour foreshore. People walking their dogs in the critical penguin habitat at any time will face on-the-spot fines of $300,” Ms Tyas said.

Anyone who finds an injured or dead penguin in the North Head area is asked to report it to the NPWS Duty Officer on 9457 9577.