The week before my first final exam (anatomy theory), which was also the study break before the two finals weeks, my friend Maren and I went and volunteered at Penguin Island with the DEC (Department of Environmental Conservation) to do Little Penguin nest box monitoring. It was more training to get to know how to hold them etc. more than anything, but we scanned (they have microchips, those that didn't we implanted one) and weighed any penguins that we found in the nest boxes.
There are plenty of natural nests around the island as well, but because of the dense vegetation it's almost impossible to tell where they are, your only clue is that when you get close the penguins start to make threatening noises. Thus, we are only able to monitor those that we can catch in nest boxes. When we went out there there was only one box that had eggs in it.
The monitoring takes place every fortnight for most of the year, but the training we were receiving was mainly for us to come back in September and help with the monitoring after hatching season. They have volunteers signed up for every two weeks to out.
It was such an amazing trip, I can't wait to go back in September! The penguins are so cute (even though they try and bite you), and I really enjoyed the work and being out in nature. The island is really small, and no one lives on it. It is really the only Little Penguin habitat left in WA because of all of the introduced animals like foxes and cats, they cannot survive well on the mainland. The WA population has halved in the past year, which is horrible, and they are trying to figure out why before it's too late.
Maren and I found lots of bird bones on the island, which really helped us with our anatomy studying ;P, and we even found a turtle skeleton (but de-headed due to boats).
I'll leave you with some pictures. :)