Having three noisy penguins in your backyard might sound like a nightmare for some, but for Carol Biddulph, it is just another day as a wildlife rehabilitator. She started volunteering as a carer for WA Seabird Rescue when it opened an Albany branch in 2006 and has since set up specialised rehabilitation enclosures on her property in Torbay. “I was born in south-east London and I wasn’t allowed to have pets as a child,” she said. “Now I’m living out the dream.” She cares for all kinds of seabirds and waterbirds, but she admits she has a “soft spot” for penguins, having looked after about 50 of them since 2007. Every summer, Ms Biddulph usually receives several northern rockhopper penguins and this year she has had four, with two released two weeks ago at Perkins Beach. The endangered species of penguin is native to southern parts of the Indian and Atlantic oceans. Ms Biddulph believes those she has looked after come from the islands of Amsterdam and Saint Paul and are on their way to or from the Great Australian Bight. Their trip is interrupted when they are forced on to the coast for several weeks in summer when they moult and cannot swim, becoming vulnerable to predators. “’It’s fine if they’re in somewhere nice and remote without people, but it’s when they come into contact with our world that it can be dangerous for them,” Ms Biddulph said. She has had an unusually high number of rockhoppers in the past few years, which she attributes to fish being harder to find, perhaps due to factors such as decreasing population and rising sea temperatures. One of the rockhoppers she rehabilitated in 2021 had a microchip, and was found to have previously been cared for by Ms Biddulph in the previous summer. Ms Biddulph says she was “so excited” when she found out. “It just cemented the great work that rehabilitators do,” she said. “The bird came into care, it was being cared for by a human and was released, lived a whole year out in the ocean, and then came back. “The chances of that happening are, I don’t know, hundreds to one, thousands to one.” Ms Biddulph also has a little penguin in her care, that was found injured on Woody Island near Esperance, and is undergoing treatment for a leg injury while moulting. “I don’t see so many little penguins, which is surprising, because we have them locally,” Ms Biddulph said. Although the rehabilitation can sometimes seem “like a full-time job”, Ms Biddulph loves it. “I’m a great believer of community and volunteer work, I think everybody can do something to help the community that they live in,” she said. “I love helping these vulnerable birds, and I love getting them better and releasing them back into their natural environment.” Ms Biddulph has mixed feelings as she prepares to release the two rockhoppers this week. “It’s a thrilling experience to release a bird that you’ve had in care,” she said. “You’re concerned because there’s no second chances with a seabird. “I just always wish them good luck, and tell them to go and make lots of babies.” If you find a penguin or other injured seabird, call WA Seabird Rescue on 6102 8464.