Penguins at Sulphur Creek

We love the area between  Devonport and Cooee Point so we decided to stop once again but this time we free camped at Sulphur Creek and hopefully we can avoid some of the wind that we encountered at Cooee Point the first time. We are only about 10km further east of Cooee Point.

I was hoping to see some Fairy Penguins

I have a burning desire to see various animals and Sulphur Creek has the advantage of having a small penguin colony adjacent to the camping area. I have always wanted to see animals in their own wild environment. I have seen platypuses (saw my first at Nagambie, Vic and my second at Geeveston), wombats, (they wandered under our caravan and around the park at Bendeela), emus, camels, kangaroos and wallabies. I have yet to see wild koalas, dolphins, quolls, and Tasmanian Devils. I did see penguins at Wilson's Promontory, Vic, but I want to get up close to one and hope to do this here at Sulphur Creek.

The beach at Sulphur Creek

It is also a place where some penguins come in to roost and feed their young from approximately October to March each year. I also liked that Sulphur Creek is closer to sea level and surprisingly more protected from the wind than we found at Cooee Point.

A sign seen on the road elsewhere

On our first night there, we went to the little track on the western side of the park. Rob has his night vision goggles. We met with some other campers that were also hoping to see the penguins. They had some cellophane over their torches but they were still rather bright. I am not sure how bright the penguins can handle even red light?

The Robbiebago camped at Sulphur Creek

We could hear the young penguins calling out to their mums as it was getting rather dark. Then at 9.21, we see one lone penguin come out of the surf. One of the men with the torch, shined it on the penguin and scared it off back into the water. We waited patiently and that same penguin came back out and scuttled up the path somewhere. We waited and waited for more. We left the others and walked along the beach a bit and hoped to distance ourselves from their light and noise hoping that this would encourage more sightings all to no avail. We gave up after about another hour. It wa jolly cold and as Rob says it was a lazy wind, meaning that the wind goes right through you rather than around you.

Rob admiring the lichen on the rocks

The next day, I had to go to the local hospital for a CT scan and Rob enjoyed a decent sleep in. Then we did a little bit of shopping and fellowship with other campers espeically made friends with Kerry. I had spent some time on the internet researching sighting around our area, what environment the penguins favour and what to look for.

Penguin tracks

I had the idea to look for their tracks in the sand and set out along the sand dune edges to see where there was a proliferation of tracks. I narrowed it down to two major areas. Sadly I also found 2 dead penguins. I saw a little blood on the side of one head but I have no idea as to the cause of death.

It was sad to see some dead penguins

This time we decided to start our vigil later. As soon as I hop outside the motorhome, some other campers, pointed out a couple of penguins up on the grass very close to where we were camping. I was so excited and very surprised to see them wandering around on the grassy area a third way between the sand dune edge and the train line. I told Rob and ran off to get Kerry. Neither Kerry or Rob get to see these ones.

Fairy Penguin at night - source Australian Geographic

We took off down the same tracks as last night but went west along the beach only about 100m. We could hear the chicks all around us. It was a much warmer night and thus much easier to stay out longer. We were rewarded with seeing a couple of penguins. Eventually we went back to the bushes near grassy area where I saw the earlier birds and were rewarded to see some more that were a tad easier to see without the goggles, though obviously the goggles made it much easier to sight them.
All in all we saw about ten birds and we thoroughly enjoyed ourselves. We called it a night after about 90 minutes.

(I saw Kerry again 5 days later and she told us of seeing more penguins the next night and had the delight of one penguin actually walking over her foot! She was also blessed to see a pod of dolphins off the shore at the park too in the afternoon.) We had to move on as we had an appointment to meet up & stay with some people at Wesley Vale just 15km outside Devonport towards Port Sorrell.

Happy travels until the next time

Michelle & Rob

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