Putting the eggs into Easter
Published: 15th Apr 2014Eggs at Easter symbolize new life, and all the signs are there’s going to be plenty of that at Living Coasts very soon. Hundreds of eggs are laid at Torquay’s coastal zoo in a typical season. The smallest egg laid is that of the redshank, while the largest belongs to the macaroni penguin. They range in colour from white (penguin) to speckled brown (waders) to blue with speckled markings (guillemots).
Living Coasts Operations Manager Clare Rugg, says: “It’s still early, but avocets and stilts are laying eggs, while other waders are busy with courtship behaviour and the search for nest sites. Choughs and Inca terns are making nests - puffins are collecting pine needles for theirs.
“Some African penguins have laid eggs and there are a few chicks, though these will be tucked away in their burrows for a while yet. The macaroni penguins are settling down on their new, expanded nesting area, complete with built-in sun-shade.”
One pair of avocets has chosen to nest right on the beach, in full view of visitors.
Keeper Libor Mach said: “They are our best breeding pair, last year they had two clutches of eggs - we have eight babies from them.”
Avocets make a shallow scrape in the sand and fill it with grass, plants, leaves and whatever else they can find. Incubation usually takes 23 days. Chicks are active a few hours after hatching. They feed themselves from day one, with the parents only providing protection and warmth. They are fully grown in two months.