For the first time in more than seven years, active little penguins burrows have been found on West Island, off the Fleurieu Peninsula.
The discovery of burrows and a breeding pair sitting on eggs has been an exciting discovery for staff at National Parks and Wildlife Service South Australia (NPWSSA).
It follows more than 17 years of ongoing habitat restoration work on the island by the organisation.
NPWSSA Fleurieu District Ranger Paul Unsworth said it is while it is just two burrows that his team found, it is a huge boost to have evidence that they have returned to the island.
“It is hoped that with further success and establishment, this may be an important insurance population for the little penguins on Granite Island," Mr Unsworth said.
A trail camera will be used to monitor the burrow with eggs.
During the recent census 16 little penguins were found on Granite Island, in eight active burrows.
Numbers dipped earlier in the year after two foxes crossed the causeway and killed 10 birds. Since then gates have been constructed to deter foxes from crossing to the island and an ultrasonic fox deterrent has been installed to further deter the pest species.
Little penguins can have one to two chicks per hatch, and can sometimes nest twice during the breeding season, which can run up until February. Currently there are several breeding pairs also sitting on eggs on Granite Island.
“At Granite Island we have the best little penguin fledgling success rate of any monitored colony in Australia,” Mr Unsworth said.
“It is higher than anywhere else, at two chicks per nest.
“We try to control all of the factors that we can on land, through native vegetation establishment, installing fences to protect the little penguin burrows, and baiting black rats, which are found on Granite Island, and can prey on chicks and eggs."
Photo of little penguins by JJ Harrison, WikiCommons