August was very brisk at WBR with a total of 51 rescues attended for the month. These rescues all took place during the first 23 days, after which I left for north QLD to meet with wildlife groups up that way.
My trip north straddled the end of the month. I delivered trainings in ‘flight capable’ bird capture techniques and also helped three groups get their net guns working. All had been flummoxed by the guns which are difficult to operate and come with no instructions. How someone hadn’t shot them self, I’ll never know.
Townsville (above) had the biggest attendance with about 25 people keen to learn new techniques. I noted some budding ‘catchers’ among the group. I also visited Bundaberg, Agnes Waters, Yeppoon/Rockhampton and Airlie Beach/Mackay. The trainings were very well received and hopefully will result in many more ‘flight capable’ birds being rescued.
It was great to catch up with my old friends Yvonne and Mal Thompson in Agnes Waters. Yvonne has been a carer for 15 years and is very experienced and dedicated. She specialises in macropods (roos/wallabies) but being in the country she treats anything, including many birds. Here she is with granddaughter Dyllan holding a very young possum rescued after a road accident.
In early in August I was called to help a little cormorant (a small, all black, species) hat was found hanging in a tree from fish hooks and fishing line (at right). The bird was very lucky to be spotted and wouldn’t have lasted much longer. I removed hooks and line and treated it’s wounds. Then I drove to a local fish shop and bought white bait which I stuffed down the cormorant’s throat prior to release (at left). Despite great care it still managed to bite me. A bite from any cormorant is not easily forgotten.
It flew away powerfully when released, which is always a good sign.
Caller Kaylani (below) was very concerned about a 5 day old cygnet that she’d come across in Varsity lakes. There was no sign of the bird’s parents.
I‘d had a report a few days earlier about two adult swans with four new cygnets and figured this bird was probably from that family. On my way to the scene Kaylani managed to secure the bird. An examination showed that it’s little beak had been snapped. Hard to say but the most likely suspects for an injury of that type are eels in the waterway. There’s no repairing a broken beak (top and bottom) so the kindest thing we could do was run the bird to a vet and have it put to sleep quickly. Kaylani was understandably upset but being a doctor she took it in her stride.
I attended eleven injured pelicans in August and twelve swans. I count each of those swans as one, when in fact I might have been dealing with a couple of families of seven or more. If I added every bird into the tally the total number might have been closer to twenty five. That’s a lot!
Their injuries ranged from fish hooks and entanglements, to botulism, arthritis, abandonment and just plain ‘being naughty’, like walking down suburban streets where they shouldn’t be. They know they shouldn’t do this and I tell them off but they do it anyway!
I took this picture (at right) of a Tangler Bin in the Town of 1770. Clearly it’s been getting some use but that’s not much good if the people responsible don’t empty it of fishing line on a regular basis.
Plans are progressing for the installation of ten fishing Tackle Bins on the Gold Coast. These are larger and square in shape with easy to read signage that tells fishers to drop unwanted hooks and line in the bin, not on the ground.
Discarded fishing line remains a constant problem. I picked up the bundle below from the 500m long stretch of ground above the Seaway Wall at the Gold Coast Spit. I’d cleaned that area thoroughly a week before yet fishers had still managed to drop another 100m+ of line which threatened to entangle all birds foraging through the area. Most at risk are ibis, scrub turkeys, crested pigeons and gulls.
Please be vigilant and pick up discarded fishing line wherever you find it. Burn it with a lighter, or wrap it into a tight ball before disposal otherwise it will go on catching birds when it gets to the rubbish tip.
These are just a few of 51 stories from August. Those of you who follow the WBR Facebook page will have seen many others.
Thank you to all donors. You make it possible for me to help these birds and to train others so they can catch what is normally ‘uncatchable’.
Special thanks to our patron Jim Downs and to Liz and Paul on the donations committee.
President, Wild Bird Rescues GOLD COAST
(at right: somebody loves me)