It has been a while… but I have not been idle.
In early September, I finally went to Manly to get my first wild penguin DNA samples. The contractor who monitors the Little Penguin colony at Manly for the National Park and Wildlife Service showed me where the burrows and nest boxes are located and caught a good number of birds for me. I was therefore able to collect 15 samples on the first trip, which was much more than either of us expected. I also got 20 samples from Five Islands, which a ranger from the NPWS has collected for me. That brings me up to 35 samples, which is exactly 10% of the total sample size I am aiming at!
Later in September, I went to my first scientific conference at Darwin in the NT, where I presented my project to an audience of conservation biologists. I got some good feedback and learned a lot about other people’s work, including the Places for Penguins project in NZ. It turned out that the situation for the penguins at Wellington seems quite similar to the ones in Sydney, with a mainland colony that is threatened by feral predators and a safer island colony nearby. Next year, I am hoping to go there to sample Little Penguin DNA from New Zealand and extend my study over the whole distribution range of those birds.
So what next?
At the moment, I am getting ready to spend an extended weekend on Bowen Island in Jervis Bay, to capture and mark 50-100 penguins, of which I will also take a genetic sample. I hope they are ready for me and my assistant!