A joint community effort has enabled a bird visitor from Antarctica to be rescued and returned to his ocean home.
Early in December 2018, FAWNA (NSW) volunteers were contacted about a unusual bird sitting on a rock at Lake Cathie surf beach.
A FAWNA spokesperson said a beachgoer recognised the bird was in trouble and helped protect it from numerous dogs nearby.
The good samaritan and FAWNA volunteer helped catch the bird.
“It was unable to fly, but pretty fast on its feet,” the spokesperson said.
“Being a busy holiday time on the beach, this most unusual bird and its rescuers generated much interest from bystanders.”
The bird was identified as a Southern Giant-Petrel, and was suffering from dehydration and exhaustion.
FAWNA’s seabird coordinator June LePla was tasked with caring for the animal.
June estimated the bird would have been about seven-years-old, weighing in at 3.5kg and was dark in colour.
The unusual visitor was named Dodo. He was initially difficult to feed, before he learnt how to catch and enjoy his food.
”Dodo fed on 700g of food daily with fresh sardines for breakfast, mullet offal for lunch and fresh whole mullet pieces mid-afternoon,” the spokesperson from FAWNA said.
After seven days Dodo became verbal and flapped his wings, an indication to FAWNA that he was near time to go home.
Fisheries NSW took Dodo out to sea on December 12 and he was placed in a large cardboard carton.
He was successfully released by Fisheries NSW officers in the Cod Grounds Marine Park, about 5.5 kilometres east of Laurieton.
“It was reported Dodo looked very much at home bathing and drinking in the ocean water,” the FAWNA spokesperson said.
FAWNA hopes Dodo continues his journey south back to his natural breeding and feeding grounds in the Antarctic.
FAWNA thanked Fisheries NSW and Port Fresh Seafoods who provided fresh mullet offal daily.
“It was a collaborative effort to help this pelagic bird,” the spokesperson said.
FAWNA’s seabird coordinator June LePla said during the organisation’s 30 years of operation, three Southern Giant-Petrels has come into its care.
“One died, one was euthanased due to significant untreatable injuries and the third, Dodo, has been a big learning curve and an absolutely delightful patient,” she said.
“It’s a privilege to be able to help this rare visitor to our shores”.