African...... (formerly called Jackass) Penguin colony at Boulders Bay Western Cape.
The colony is now hundreds strong growing from just two birds that chose to breed there as late as 1982. The colony is visited regularly by thousands and thousands of people who can view these truly wild birds from just inches away in some cases. At first when I arrived I was somewhat put off by the potential crouds and entrance fee to the boardwalk that winds its way through the colony of hole nesting birds. They were stood by the sides of their nest burrows in their dozens with their partners faces sometimes showing at the hole entrance where they were sat incubating eggs or brooding chicks. On other ocassions they were above the nest in pairs with their backs to each other, facing the opposite way to give themselves an all round view for any predators, an inbuilt natural reaction not needed here in this closeted environment. I pretty soon got imersed in the birds and photography not worrying too much about the other people who had started to leave now anyway as it was way past 5 when we arrived.
It was hard to actually get photos of their eyes because they spent so much time snoozing in the sun but from time to time they would preen and I could see them.
A few pairs were away from the nest burrows and sunning themselves instead on the boulders that gives the beach it's name. On the beach itself there were a hundred or so other bird s who would from time to time enter the water.
I watched one pair crossing beaks and entwining their necks before the male mounted his female and copulated for several minutes giving me the chance to witness this lovely moment.
Then, when he had finished he seemed to tenderly stroke her back with his flipper and gaze in to her eyes. Probably just coincidence but thats the way it looks.
He wandered away to the beach for a swim.
I also saw and photographed other interesing birds today as well as Baboons, here's a taster below the story and more pictures to follow tomorrow.