Wednesday, 15 June 2016

Northern Giant Petrel - Beach Rescue and Ocean Release

Some days you just don't know what you'll find at the beach.

One stormy Sunday afternoon, we were walking along and saw a couple of kids in the waves. 'Crazy kids' I thought since it is winter and, although the waves looked exciting, the kids looked cold. Then we realised that they were trying to rescue a large black bird that was being bashed about by the waves.

From a distance I knew straightaway that it wasn't a seagull or shag but something much bigger. We rushed to help. Meanwhile an adult with the children managed to grab the bird with a towel and bring it ashore. It was amazingly compliant. A quick handover saw my walking companion wrap the bird in his jacket - the bird managed to get a nip at his arm with its giant beak. We took it to a nearby house and the residents, who had a suitable cage for the bird, called the Department of Conservation.

The bird went to Wellington Zoo to be restored to health, and that's when we found out it was a Northern Giant Petrel. Turns out they are nicknamed 'vulture of the sea' and they can be aggressive. So I guess my walking companion was lucky to only get one nip on the arm.

This was the one walk where I was out without my phone or camera - a blogger should never be walking without a camera!

Luckily the The Nest at Wellington Zoo was able to nurse it back to health. They took some great photos of the bird and its release last weekend.  See the photos and read the full story here:

What to do in a Conservation emergency
If you find sick or injured wildlife, phone the Department of Conservation hotline 0800 DOC HOT, 0800 362468. (This includes whale or dolphin strandings, but be aware that seals often pull up on shore to rest and are probably not sick or injured.)

Useful links
Information about Northern Giant Petrels