Chapter one - The burrow

Chapter one - The burrow

Penguin in a burrow

Spot is two weeks old.

He’s currently a fuzzy, teeny penguin chick and he lives in a spongy burrow dug out of bird and seal poo.

That doesn’t bother him though, so far his burrow is the only world he’s known. It’s cozy and safe and sheltered from the blazing sun outside. Either Mum or Dad is always there, squished on top of him, preening his feathers or returning from the outside with a stomach full of delicious chomped-up fish to feed him with.

Outside, the beach is full of the sound of honking penguins. From the entrance of his squishy, poo-made burrow Spot catches glimpses of black penguin feet as the rest of the colony waddle by. Every so often the big, flat feet of a blue-billed pelican splats past or a seabird swoops down, diving to nab something from the floor. 

In the distance, beyond rows of jaggedy rocks, Spot can see the big blue sea. Little dots jump in and out of it, flying from the rock edges - penguins fishing along on the shoreline. They zoom around and catapult out of the water like they’re flying. 

So far Spot’s never ventured from the burrow, his soft, downy baby feathers aren’t waterproof yet and can’t protect him from the heat of the sun. Whereas Mum and Dad have slick black feathers with white belies and a thick black line around their chest, Spot is grey and fluffy with a spotty belly just beginning to turn white. About quarter the size of his parents, Spot has a lot of growing up to do before he becomes a fully fledged penguin. 

Over the next few weeks Spot enjoys a life of penguin luxury - being fed, preened and watching the world go by from the burrow. Every day he gets a bit bigger and fluffier and braver - until one day he decides to venture out. 

He sticks his head out of the burrow. 

Then whips it back in. 

Then pokes it out again.

Until finally… 

Thud!

He hops onto the beach. 

Lined in the same thick layers of poop, the floor is spongey like the burrow. The air is hot and the beach is full of penguins hopping around. There’s hundreds of them, almost all identical with only the grey spots on their chests telling them apart. There’s lots of fuzzy chicks around too, waddling around looking a bit lost. Just like Spot most of them are now about half the size of the grown ups and beginning to lose their fluff.

Spot takes a few wobbly waddles around, Mum follows him honking. 

He waddles a little further, then a little further, until his feet touch the rocks… they’re hard and… hot? Panicking he turns to jump back but…

BOINGGG!

He bashes into one of the giant, big billed pelicans. It flaps at him angrily.

Squawking he hops back up the beach as fast as his feet will take him. He stops, there’s hundreds of burrows - which is his? 

The beach is a sea of black and white penguins but he recognises Mum’s call. He follows her to the burrow and dives in. She follows after clambering over him. He feels safe under her belly, comfort-ed by the feel of her feathers, her beak picking at his fluff.

He might leave it a while before he ventures out again…

Watch out for chapter two coming soon!
 

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