Friday, August 30, 2013

Pre-season Working Bee

Volunteers were at it again this year, maintaining the artificial penguin nests, removing weeds and littering, planting natives,... All to ensure the penguins have a safe home to return to, inducive to breeding!

Here is our platform, looking good. This year the penguin fences along the Bass highway have also been repaired and are up to the task of keeping our creatures safe from the motorcars barelling alomg the tarmac.
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Thursday, November 24, 2011

Volunteers needed!

Image: Perviz Marker

The Friends of Lillico Penguins (FoLP) and Tasmanian Parks and Wildlife Service are organising a census of Little Penguins at Lillico Beach Conservation Area on Saturday 14 January, 2012 and would appreciate some help. 

Here’s a special message from the FoLP President and Secretary:

“Our previous census took place four years ago, in January 2008, and we believe it is time to update our information on the penguin population at Lillico. The beach is home to one of the largest colonies of Little Penguins on mainland Tasmania and our last count indicated over 2,000 resident birds. Lillico Beach Conservation Area is about five minutes drive to the west of Devonport and forms the northern boundary of the Bass Highway for a stretch of three kilometres.

To count Little Penguins along the length of the beach requires more people than we have members of FoLP, and so we are calling for help from interested volunteers. If you think you would enjoy an evening in the company of Little Penguins, sitting on the beach and counting them as they return to their nests, we would love to hear from you. Your help would be a valuable contribution towards furthering our understanding of these fascinating birds. We are sure you will also enjoy a memorable evening!”

To find out more please contact either;
Patricia Ellison, President, FOLP, Tel: 0459 084 742
or email: 
John Coombes, Secretary, FOLP, Tel: 6424 6795

FW: FOLP in the local rag!

Always nice to get some recognition for what we do.

We do hope that people don't get it in their mind to go and take photos like
this as it requires professional equipment to shoot in low light like this.
Most attempts by visitors we observe results in accidental flashes going
off. Flash photography, accidental or not, can interfere with little penguin
breeding as some penguins may no longer feel safe when exposed to bright
lights such as a camera (or phone!) flash.

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

Vale Barry Hebbard

The Friends of Lillico Penguins have been deeply saddened by the sudden passing of Barry Hebbard on 28 August 2011.

Barry was a founder member of the Friends and remained involved in the group’s activities to the end. Over 20 years he never missed a season as a volunteer guide at the viewing platform at Lillico and for the last few years was on duty two nights a week. He was a familiar figure to regular visitors to Lillico and was always keen to help protect the Little Penguins and educate the public.

Barry was President of the Friends for several years and he was widely respected for his knowledge of Little Penguins and other seabirds. Many of the current volunteers at Lillico owe their involvement to Barry’s encouragement and inspiration.

Barry was also a passionate advocate for the protection of the short-tailed shearwater. He looked forward every year to the shearwaters’ return to Lillico in September, after their marathon flight from the Bering Sea, and in the autumn he worked closely with the Parks and Wildlife Service to protect their chicks
from poachers. Barry’s interest in conservation ranged widely and he never hesitated to lobby for change where he felt injustice needed overturning.

Barry will be sadly missed by many people. For the Friends of Lillico Penguins, his passing has left a huge void but we hope to honour his memory by keeping up his high standards of service and dedication to the conservation of nature.

So long, farewell..... and thank you

Patricia Ellison
For the Friends of Lillico Penguins

Friday, April 15, 2011

Nice sunny day morning for the Working Bee

Lovely morning to be out there. Many hands make for light work and in a couple of hours quite a bit was done! Thanks to all that showed up.
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At the Lillico Penguin platform the volunteers complete a form at the end of each shift, and report on the number of visitors, the number of birds spotted, and any other noteworthy observations. This data is carefully compiled and we can get interesting information like this:
In the above diagram we note that 40% of the visitors come in January and the majority of birds are seen in December.

Statistics are always a little tricky, and we do our best using Excel, you have to take into consideration that 2004 for instance represents jan/feb/mar... and oct/nov/dec, because 'one season' spans two years. And therefore the 2010 figures are a little misleading as this season's data has not been entered (oct/nov/dec) into the spreadsheet, and similarly for 2003 as it doesn't include the (jan/feb/mar) figures. 

More data:

From the above data we can read that visitor numbers are steadily increasing and so are the observed birds. This might be because the penguins are getting more and more used to people and that our artificial burrows and weeding projects are working to make the platform a more attractive place for them to breed.

The above table can be used to estimate how many birds and visitors you could expect in any given month. Of course you are more likely to find more visitors on a balmy Christmas evening than a wet and windy evening no matter what month.

If anyone likes specific information please request it in a comment below.

Monday, November 22, 2010

Information on penguin viewing at Lillico Beach

The little or fairy penguin is found only in southern Australia and New Zealand. It is the smallest but noisiest of all penguins. Lillico Beach Conservation Area stretching 3 km from Leith on the west to Don Heads on the east is the breeding ground for some three thousand little penguins, the second-largest colony on Tasmania’s ‘mainland’.

The primary aim of the Friends of Lillico Penguins Group (FoLP) is to protect the Little Penguin breeding colony at Lillico Beach near Devonport. We work very closely with the Parks and Wildlife Service (PWS) striving to ensure that visitors who come to view the breeding penguins do not harm the birds or their diminished habitat. FOLP also:

  • help protect and manage the native habitat of the Lillico Beach Conservation Area.
  • train volunteers who provide a free guiding and interpretation service throughout the breeding season, with the emphasis on education rather than entertainment.

Seasonal guided viewing The best season for viewing penguins is the breeding season which usually lasts from September to March. At the Viewing Platform visitors can watch at close quarters up to twenty penguins coming ashore, breeding and feeding their young.

Although adult penguins can often be seen at night in the ‘off-season’, the weather can be very unpleasant, nor are chicks present, so viewing is not recommended. During the summer holidays, our volunteer guides are often supported by a “Summer Ranger” from PWS.

The viewing platform has a carpark which is limited to about 30 vehicles. During evening viewing, cars and small campervans will need to reverse park on an angle on the left side of the carpark.. This is to prevent headlights disturbing the penguins and for visitors’ safety. Spaces on the right side of the carpark are intended for long vehicles such as buses and motor-homes.

The viewing platform is sited at the eastern end of Lillico Beach, adjacent to the Bass Highway, and on the western side of Don Hill. Also it is about 3 km west of the Don River and 4 km east of the Forth River.

  • Note that the Bass Highway is dual carriageway and access is from the eastbound carriageway.
  • Note also that currently there is no signposting for this feature.

If arriving from the east, you’ll need to make a U-turn either at an opening in the median strip about 0.3 km west of the viewing platform or at the junction with Lillico Road about 1 km further west. If leaving for the west, make a U-turn at the junction with Waverley Road which is about 0.5 km to the east.

  • There are no toilets so go before you arrive! There are also no refreshments available. Devonport is the nearest town. 
  • A good time to arrive is around sunset because the birds begin to appear around dusk (i.e. when colours disappear and everything looks grey). If unsure, consult a local newspaper for sunset times.
  • Wear adequate clothing, especially for children, as it is often chilly and windy. Clothing should preferably be dark so as to be less noticeable to the penguins. Children’s shoes that light up are not a good idea.
  • Bring your binoculars.
  • A box for donations is provided. Although viewing is free, donations are always welcome and all funds are spent on the conservation area.

  • Access to the beach between 6 p.m. and 6 a.m. is prohibited.
  • Penguins are wild animals, not fluffy pets! They can scratch and peck if approached too closely! Therefore, be quiet, move slowly and avoid touching them.
  • Flash photography, mobile phones, torches, smoking and pets are all prohibited. Our guides have torches with red filters.
  • Your cooperation in not littering will be much appreciated.

For more information Contact: Parks and Wildlife Service, Short Street, Ulverstone. 6429 8719