Thursday, 9 June 2016

Kerguelen Petrel

This very rare pelagic bird breeds in the Southern Atlantic and Southern Indian Oceans. It was unknown in the Australian region until a specimen was found in 1926. It is often seen among the pack ice but seldom seen in Australian seas. However – this poor bird was caught up in the “perfect storm” being blown across from the big system in West Australia then caught up in the East Coast low that caused havoc over the weekend of the 5th and 6th June. It must have been like being in a big washing machine – scary for a 36cm bird with a wingspan of 81cm.

The rare Kerguelen Petrel blown into NSW South Coast shores during a storm.

He was found in a backyard at Callala Bay approx 1 1/2 hours south of Wollongong.

Not being able to identify him from the photos I asked Australian Seabird Rescue team member Lisa to send photos directly to Lindsay of Southern Ocean Seabird Study Association (SOSSA) who is an absolute expert on seabirds. Lindsay wanted to measure the birds feathers etc for absolute identification. So he drove an hour south (for which I am very grateful) and Lisa drove 45 mins north to meet and for him to bring the bird back. He of course was correct in his identification from the photos but found the bird to be only half the weight he should be. Due to the rarity of the bird Lindsay looked after him through the night but he just didn’t have any fight left in him and very sadly died quietly. He is now off to the Australian Museum in Sydney for display.

A great big thank you to Lisa for collecting and transporting him and Lindsay of SOSSA for driving south to bring him back and care for him.

It has to be stressed again the importance of getting these seabirds to specialist care and identification. Dead birds are invaluable also for research.


Cute Cygnet

A call came in to Australian Seabird Rescue at 16.30 from a member of the public who had also rung WIRES regarding 2 cygnets separated from the parents. Apparently the parents had removed 2 babies and would have come back for the others if this woman had not interfered. Unfortunately she lives near this waterway and has a reputation for interference and not understanding wildlife. In fact National Parks and the police were called last year for the same thing. What she is doing is quite illegal and feeding the birds is also illegal particularly feeding them white sliced bread definitely not good for them. The result of this inference was that a member from WIRES sat cold and freezing until 18.30 hrs to watch over them. Unable to help as it was also pitch black I told her I would go at daybreak next day.

On arrival mum and dad with 2 babies were in an adjacent pond and 1 cygnet alone and frightened apparently the other must have been taken by a fox. With steep slippery sides at the site I rang our co-ordinator Kirsten to come put the kayak in.

It was all over in 10 minutes and baby happily reunited with parents and siblings. At 4 days old this would have been a terrifying experience for this little one. So please people – nature really does know best so unless there is apparent danger interference often causes more stress.
Thank you to Kirsten ASR and Kristy WIRES for helping.


Family happily reunited.