Our island state is known for its natural beauty. It’s also a haven for wildlife, with important habitat dotted throughout Tasmania. One of these special places is the Bruny Island Neck Game Reserve, a key habitat for little penguins, short-tailed shearwaters, and other bird life. The road and carpark are currently under construction, which means that the Neck Game Reserve and the Truganini Lookout are temporarily closed to the public. Work is due for completion at the end of 2017, and the Neck will reopen in time for the summer holidays. In the meantime, be sure to respect the closure signs and fencing – for your safety and the wellbeing of the penguins!
What are the penguins doing at The Neck?
Vegetated dunes and ecosystems such as the Bruny Island Neck Game Reserve are key habitats for resident species such a little penguins and endangered hooded plovers, as well as migratory short-tailed shearwaters, who return to breed from late August through to December. Little penguins are the only species of penguin that breeds in Australia, and the Neck is one of the places they like to get down to business!
How do they go about this whole parenting thing?
It’s actually quite romantic and a bit feminist. Little penguins form a long-term monogamous bond, with only around a fifth of penguin relationships ending in separation (much better than the human divorce rate). They are also fantastic at this whole co-parenting thing, sharing care of their babies. Just a few days after the chicks hatch, the parents alternate roles daily, with one staying at home to guard the nest while the other goes to work foraging at sea. After about two weeks, both parents go out to sea each day, returning in the evening to feed their chicks (or after a few days if they trust their offspring not to throw a huge party and trash the burrow).
What can I do to protect them?
Because the construction is happening during penguin breeding season, it’s extra important to respect the signage and fences so that their habitat remains intact and they continue to live and reproduce at the Neck. The fences are there for your safety as well as for the protection of the wildlife. A good general rule of thumb when exploring nature reserves is to always stick to the pathways provided – never go off on your own because you might trample important habitat and burrows. This also applies when pathways are closed! Don’t be tempted to park at the Neck during the construction, either, as the reserve is closed and you can’t climb up to the lookout. Be patient, be caring of our unique wildlife, and go and check it out after it reopens in the summertime!
Where else can I see wildlife?
There are plenty of other opportunities to appreciate Bruny’s wonderful wildlife! Book yourself on a Bruny Island Cruise, go bird watching on one of the island’s lovely walks, or see if you can spot a special white wallaby (try Adventure Bay).
Penguin footprints – the only footprints that should be seen at the Bruny Island Neck Game Reserve!
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