Saturday 17th September 2011
Today is WET ! WET ! WET ! It started raining as we came out of the staffroom at 8am. It then got progressively worse, and basically stayed that way. The aviaries in the Owl Garden have been flooded out (yet again). The safety porches on the small bird aviaries are ‘sheltered ponds’. As I was getting rid of the muddy water in the ponds in the desert pens, they were filling up faster than I could empty them. I went to feed down in the breeding ground, and as I was walking along the path next to the bottom row of aviaries, the flood water I was wading through was nearly up to the top of my wellingtons! I have written about this same thing happening on a few occasions now, and is getting to be a bit repetitive. I think due to climate change, this is going to be the norm rather than the exception. Baring in mind that it is only September, this is likely to be just the start of it.
On a different note, we had an unusual ‘wildlife lodger’ for a few days this week. I came in to the centre as usual on Wednesday morning, only to be met by Andy, who informed me that he had received a bird casualty at 7pm the night before; could I go and have a look at it? Going into the hospital expecting to find an injured/traumatized raptor of some sorts, I was stopped dead in my tracks, when I was confronted with a ‘Gannet’. Never having seen one of these birds up close before, I feverishly racked my brain for what little knowledge I could gather on these rather impressive birds. I have seen them from a distance exhibiting their very impressive and definitely very spectacular hunting skills, as they dive almost vertically into the sea at great speed with their equally impressive armoury of ‘razor sharp’ powerful beak to intercept any fishes not fast enough to get out of their reach, which, let’s face it, there can’t be many fish that are!
It is, with the ‘impressive armoury’ in mind. That I regarded the Gannet, figuring what might be required to get this bird back into the wild. The gannet in the meantime, regarded me, no doubt judging me by its own standards of; ‘Do onto others before they do it to you’. I couldn’t see anything obviously wrong with it. At Andy’s behest, I took it to the vet, armed with protective goggles and a stout pair of gauntlets.
Before getting there, I read up on gannets, finding out where the nearest colony might be. According to the information I read, the nearest large colony was on the Isle of Man; not far as the Gannet flies. The fact that it had been picked up on the Cumbrian mainland may be due to the storm we had a day or two earlier. It could easily have been blown off track.
At the vet, I had to get the Gannet out of the travelling crate. Armed with my heavy gauntlets I set to it. I have to say, that a Gannets beak is one of the most ‘scary’ beaks I have ever encountered. The power was quite amazing, and this was married to the fact that it was razor sharp as well. Needless to say, there was a communication problem. We were trying to help it. The Gannet on the other hand thought we were trying to kill it!
On examination, the vet couldn’t find anything wrong with it except for dehydration. It was treated for parasites as well as the dehydration, and with a good fat reserve it was recommended for release as soon as possible.
To cut a long story short, the Gannet was released on Friday the 16th of September, where it swam off into the incoming tide, diving into the waves as it swam out to sea. We will keep our fingers crossed.
See you next week.
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