View Full Version : Fly my friend fly

9th Nov 2013, 11:57
I feel good today, something happened that felt magical.

It was a blustery day today here in Melbourne as I went for my long walk along the beach in the afternoon. Within a few minutes I encountered a native seabird sitting right in the middle of the footpath, the poor bird was in shock. I couldn't believe it, so many pathetic yuppies in their walking costumes must have walked right by it and didn't do anything about it.

With the road only 2m away my first thought was that he was injured, but as I looked him over he appeared alright, his wings and webbed feet were intact. He was the size of a grown duck but had all the hallmarks of a juvenile - finally my thesis on seagulls all those years ago had a practical use.

I gently picked him up, he didn't protest, and placed him just inside a fenced off area that protects beach vegetation from human erosion.

I continued my walk and on my return 30 minutes later I noticed he had not moved from where I put him. Being a city beach I knew too well that some ignorant dog owner will eventually let their dog off the leash (even though it's illegal) and this poor bird will be torn to shreds.

Fortunately one of the surf lifesaving clubs down the road was open so I popped in and asked if they had a phone book. The receptionist had internet and looked up the phone number of the RSPCA, so I rang them and got their answering service - they were closed. She then found a government wildlife department so I rang them and was put on hold - buggah, after a long wait I was now running out of phone credits so I hung up. By now one of the members had arrived and mentioned that this morning when he was swimming he encountered a bunch of birds in the water. There didn't seem much we could do, so I told him the best thing I could do was relocate the bird deeper in the enclosed area and hope for the best.

So I walked back and found he was still exactly where I left him. As I reached in the fence he tried to bite me - this was a good sign I thought as he was coming out of shock. I stroked him with a long blade of grass and he eventually let me pick him up. The fence was impenetrable, so I proceeded to walk the 40m to the shoreline to shove him inside the fence from there.

As I got within meters of the water I felt his webbed feet kicking as he got excited, so I put him down right near the water. After a small hesitation he stood up, looked over his right shoulder at me, opened his wings revealing a huge wingspan, eased up majestically into the air and headed off over the bay.

What a sight, what a pleasure, what a beautiful thing. :ok:

I took a picture of my brief friend on the phone while he was in shock and will upload tomorrow, hopefully someone will be able to tell me what kind of bird it is.

9th Nov 2013, 12:13
Owrr...owrrro...ow..ow...aurrrrrowaukack...ackackack...owrrr ! (That's just one of my "grateful seagull" impressions) :ok:

9th Nov 2013, 13:15
Nice one, cattletruck. Yup, we are all part and parcel of the same thing, if only we knew it, and those of us who are bigger stronger and slightly more intelligent should help the others - as you did.

There's something about the winged ones, though, isn't there ? On my daily drive to the fitness centre I pass a tree where a very large hunting bird sits on an upper branch surveying his revere. Sometimes when I drive back two hours later he's flying circles over potential prey. What a magnificent sight !

9th Nov 2013, 14:17
I have just rescued a tiny red two-spotted ladybird from the swimming pool. She (he?) rewarded me by sitting on my leg for about 20 minutes, opening the two parts of her shell and drying out the delicate wings beneath. Once dried, she sat experimenting with flap settings for a few minutes, measuring her take off run, and then blasted off into the clear blue sky.

El Grifo
9th Nov 2013, 14:27
Me, well, Saviour of moths in the pool at night !!

El G

9th Nov 2013, 16:57
I find that the older I get the more aware I am of the fact that my fellow creatures on this planet deserve as much of a chance of life as I do.

I'm certainly no Buddhist, and see no harm, for example, in culling deer for the benefit of the herd, but if I have a chance to give some creature a helping hand, as in cattletruck's example, I will, even if it's only helping a spider out of the bath.

(Although thinking about it, if I lived in Oz like cattletruck I might think twice about that one :eek:)

9th Nov 2013, 17:13
Once I resued a large seagull- span maybe 2m- that was in a spot of trouble.

After a while it seemed to perk up and I picked it up to try and warm or comfort it. It looked at me very gratefully, then quickly leaned over and pecked a large chunk out of my bottom lip, which caused very copious bleeding for me, and a sort of knee jerk vertical launch for Mr Gull, followed by his airborne departure from the scene.

A happy ending for him and a good lesson for me.:uhoh:

9th Nov 2013, 18:53
That's a heartwarming story, cattletruck - thank you for posting it.

I remember some years ago the owner of a hotel, where I entertained with music and song once a week, told me he had rescued a distressed Manx Shearwater and the time had come to release the bird back into the wild. We walked up to the edge of the cliffs and he held him high and let him go. We held our breath as he dropped towards the water. Then he got the lift from the waves and off he went. It was a wonderful and poignant sight.

9th Nov 2013, 20:31
I saved myself tonight: eight wild pigs - piglets, several sows, and a mean & tusked boar at the head - coming towards my front gate. Wife shouts "get in here you --- and push the close button".

Kindness to myself takes precedence to animals.

9th Nov 2013, 20:43
Cattletruck, could it have been a muttonbird?

Just Dead Tired: Mutton Birds (http://www.wires.org.au/index.php?option=com_content&task=view&id=133)

9th Nov 2013, 22:17
Paul Movie Clip "Paul Heals Bird" Official (HD) - YouTube

10th Nov 2013, 00:02
Here he is


mphysflier, I think you are right, and that also fits in with what the surf lifesaving club member saw in the water during his morning swim, unfortunately he thought they were ducks.

From the link:
Short-tailed shearwaters leave Bass Straight in late April-early May, fly north east across the Pacific Ocean and on to the Bering Sea between Russia and Alaska to the Australian winter in the northern hemisphere. They live almost constantly on the wing returning to their islands via the east coast of Australia, to breed in late Spring and Summer.

Wow, that's quite a journey for such a little taca.

Just thinking out aloud, it would have been nice if our surf lifesaving clubs also taught their members something about local native wildlife and their seasonal habits. I know the general rule is don't interfere with the wildlife, but having found it sitting in the middle of the footpath near a busy road, I strongly doubt the walking lycra yuppie brigade would care enough to do anything about it.

But it was a great sight to see him spread those weary wings once more and launch himself effortlessly into the air to fly out over bay.

10th Nov 2013, 00:13

Two issues with birds after heavy weather / long journeys where they
just end up crashing onto the dry land.

One, as you found, they just want to rest.

The other with sea birds like these and others (Albatrosses etc) is
when they are feeling better, they are very clumsy at walking on
land and also need somewhere to take off from, or launch themselves
off a cliff type with plenty of wind.

But you did the right thing :ok:

Buster Hyman
10th Nov 2013, 00:16

10th Nov 2013, 00:35
A very touching story and I take my hat off to your humanity...

But - it may have just been tired & sh*gged out after a long flight. :}

10th Nov 2013, 04:40
Yep Sooty Shearwater, aka Mutton Bird

10th Nov 2013, 05:27
Cattletruck , I too live in Melbourne and I too like birds, or did.
At approximately 2.15 this afternoon I was driving from the city and approaching the Westgate Bridge in my shiny new Honda.....pride of my life.
Suddenly there was a "splosh" and biggest load of bird s**t I've ever seen landed on the bonnet and then transferred itself to my wind screen. I'm now looking for the b****y Seagull that did it. If you find one injured on the beach during one of your walks in the future just let the bugger die ! :)

John Hill
10th Nov 2013, 05:36
"shiny new" is what did it, never wash your car and that will not happen again.

10th Nov 2013, 05:54
Well done Cattletruck!!....I sure am no tree hugger, but have saved a few birds over the years, not in me to just walk on by!...you showed great thought to be aware of selfish dog owners, releasing their hounds in the Dunes!!

I believe they eat mutton bird in Tassie, a old neighbour (Ex Taswegian) told me.....

This chap (below link) John Patterson used to sell 'Vita-Tan', it was a popular Sun Tan lotion of the 1950s, John used to get around in an old Rolls Royce with a stuffed mutton bird where the Rolls Royce 'winged lady' thingy used to be...when asked if he ever used it he used to say (words to the effect) "Why would I squeeze a dead bird and smear what comes out of its @rse over my body" People used to queue up for it though!.....I think he also used to sell it at places other than Surfers Paradise beach as well!

https://www.google.com.au/search?q=John+Patterson+Mutton+bird+man&rlz=1C1CHMZ_en-gbAU487AU487&source=lnms&tbm=isch&sa=X&ei=RCt_UtqdI-eViQeT9ICQCQ&ved=0CAkQ_AUoAQ&biw=1600&bih=775#facrc=_&imgdii=_&imgrc=awW42rbE9vuS4M%3A%3BjsrvLb6jladL4M%3Bhttp%253A%252F%25 2Fwww.sl.nsw.gov.au%252Fimages%252Fexhibitions%252F2011%252F beach_bush_battlers%

The top 2 right hand pictures....the second shows his old roller...:cool:

10th Nov 2013, 06:36
Sounds like you passed up the opportunity of a free dinner.

10th Nov 2013, 07:12
Sounds like you passed up the opportunity of a free dinner.

Boil for four hours, throw away the contents, eat the pot!


10th Nov 2013, 10:31
With the new knowledge from mphysflier's link I went back today for another look along the beach.

We've had very blustery conditions all this weekend but this is Melbourne where windy days are the norm (all you fair weather flyers be warned). Here are some pics along the beach I took today:



Not evident above, in my short walk I counted 47 dead birds and 2 dead fish. :sad:

Most of the dead birds had been washed up, some had obviously been mauled where they rested, and I saw some bird bits on the footpath too. :sad:

At least I gave my little friend a second chance yesterday.

tony draper
10th Nov 2013, 10:38
Good Karma accrued through helping a being of another species Mr C,when you return twill not be as a Dung Beetle or the like.:ok::rolleyes:

10th Nov 2013, 10:52
Cattletruck, a truly grateful bird would have shat all over you as he lifted off. Ever noticed that? They unload as they do a panic takeoff to reduce TOW, and to provide a bit extra propulsion. :suspect:

The most amazing bird I ever nurtured was a wedgetail eagle we captured as a fledging after his tree was knocked over during rural clearing operations. He was a big as a chook, but was fully covered in down.
He was placid, but as fearless as any eagle could be. We named him "Samson" (the strongman). There were no laws about keeping native birds in those days (early 1970's).

We let him roam around the yard during the day, and he had all the dogs and cats totally scared sh*tless. He would ingest a chop bone in a single gulp and show not a shred of emotion.
At least a cat purrs, and a dog wags its tail, when they're fed - but an eagle - not a shred of emotion.

He grew feathers and then walked up and down the yard, spreading his wings and trying them out. He was magnificent to watch. Then came the day he flew a few yards.
He got better every day, and he'd then fly the short distance across the road from the house, and perch on the above-ground water main for hours.
People driving past would stop in amazement, and Samson would just give them the "eagle eye".

Then came the day he flew off and spent hours away from home. He gradually disappeared more and more, until one day he never returned. I trust he figured out how to hunt and catch prey, and I reckon he knew about that instinctively.
I trust he lived a long and happy life, free from harm, as farmers with lambs were his only threat.
It was proven via nest research, about the time we got him, that Wedgetail eagles feasted very rarely on lambs - and rabbits and other small rodents made up 95% of their diet.

10th Nov 2013, 10:56
If I find any sp*d*rs in my place (such as struggling to escape my bathtub) I catch them and give them an alternative home.Such as a disused storeroom in a car park near me.There's even a light nearby so some bugs are attracted for their dinner http://images.ibsrv.net/ibsrv/res/src:www.pprune.org/get/images/smilies/smile.gif

Nothing against them,just don't like them inside.They're not small.

10th Nov 2013, 11:00

Same, at least with what we call Huntsman Spiders.

You can be lying on the couch watching TV and up in some corner
of the room this 1 inch (or bigger) grey shadow appears, which then
generally moves across the wall or the ceiling. Damn hard to "catch"
in a newspaper when they are directly above you.

10th Nov 2013, 11:03
Bearing in mind that some people don't like much discussion on the subject I tried to keep my description general with no pictures.

10th Nov 2013, 11:04
That's a great story onetrack, well done raising Samson to the point of independence :ok:.

10th Nov 2013, 11:06

Likewise, I hate them but prefer them to live !!!

10th Nov 2013, 11:13
My family (father etc) have been involved in ornithology for many years
so when in the UK we often had injured birds to look after.

One of the best was a Long eared owl, a baby we had to rear that
grew up to be a superb specimen which isn't surprising considering
how many mice it ate).

Anyway, we tried and in some ways succeeded in teaching it to catch
live mice in it's cage / shed. One day, it "escaped" or more like it thought
itself ready to go !

Anyway, it survived for a couple of years but had a sad accident
with a car and as we had banded it, we found out where it had got
to which was some distance from ur house in Hereford.

Sad how it ended but it had obviously had a good life and survived.

Buster Hyman
10th Nov 2013, 12:01
Waves on Pt Philip Bay! Surf's up for the Bwighton wesidents!

10th Nov 2013, 12:10
They say owls are better mousers than cats, we see many Little Owls and Barn Owls at my place in the village, unfortunately eagles and hawks are now a rare sight.

Sounds like you passed up the opportunity of a free dinner.

After seeing 47 dead Mutton birds today I think I have now been put off tinned Irish Stew for life seeing how easy it is to harvest :yuk:

10th Nov 2013, 12:12

It's a great set of beaches along there :ok:

Used to live in Dendy St !!!

10th Nov 2013, 12:19

Yes, owls are better mousers than cats by a long way.

Re hawks, I think I have seen various hawks in every garden
I have had in Melbourne, most of which were in Brighton,
or Beaumaris.

The thing is, you don't often see them for long, it is a fleeting glimpse
as thy come over traveling at speed or as they snatch a bird from the
garden. So they are out there, particularly in the leafier suburbs.
I think the Golf Course help as well, (Sandy, Royal Melbourne etc).

10th Nov 2013, 12:26
The thing is, you don't often see them for long, it is a fleeting glimpse...

Thanks 500N that explains it well, as that is all I ever see of them - except for the one and only time when an adult eagle landed right in front of me - its shadow and flapping noise scared the living **** out of me until I realised what it was.

10th Nov 2013, 12:30
Where was the Eagle ?

You get Eagles (Wedge tails) close to Melbourne, Dandenongs, Werribee / Little River. You get kites as well down at the Sewage Farms at Seaford and Werribee plus all the hawks.

Peregrines nest in Melbourne on the tall buildings and have done for many years.

10th Nov 2013, 12:44
Little bit off there 500N, I also spend time at a little village in Greece located in high valley between two mountain ranges near the Southern Peloponnese coast :p.

That eagle had real attitude, as I was taking a shortcut on foot along a dirt road he swooped down and landed right in front of me. He gave me a look of "you're not significant" (he was probably right) then hopped into the nearby field, obviously he had spotted something from up in the air and the road was the best place to land. I reckon his wing span was 5 to 6 feet.

I used to see lots of hawks in South Eastern inner Melbourne many years ago but haven't seen one for ages. The introduced Indian Mynah has reached pest proportions and has driven out a lot of the native wildlife.

10th Nov 2013, 13:10
Perhaps because of the mild autumn (so far), predator birds are everywhere here. The falcons that breed in the roof of the house above, each spring, did not go elsewhere this year and are frequently to be heard squabbling overhead. And the larger birds in the woods on the back roads look in their majesty down from their perches every morning as I drive by.

That look of "you're not significant" is very true and yes, mere humans are lesser creatures compared to the hunters of the sky.

Solid Rust Twotter
10th Nov 2013, 14:06
...owls are better mousers than cats...

Why on earth would you chase mice when you have humans with opposable thumbs to open cans of tuna for you?:confused:

10th Nov 2013, 15:24
I have a large bird feeder hanging outside one of the family room windows that has a twofold purpose. One to feed the birds, and two, to amuse the indoor cats. Sparrows, house finch and pairs of morning doves frequent; according to Missus Fan, however, the doves are too big for the feeder and eat off the ground below it.

Although we live in a suburban neighborhood, there now seems to be a hawk or two nearby. Missus Fan happened to witness one of the doves getting picked off by the hawk and suffice it to say, it was epic. Not to mention, the rest of the birds disappear for a while.

I was instructed (and complied) to build a chicken wire structure beneath the bird feeder where the doves can collect and eat in safety so the hawks can not get to them.

One day she inquired just how much we were spending on bird food and when told, thought it was quite a lot. I suggested that we could remove the chicken wire structure.

Didn't get the laugh I expected.

10th Nov 2013, 16:50
Following cattletruck's splendid photos, here is the view from our terrace this evening. Such birds as are outside are sheltering from the force eight tramontana which is blowing.


Solid Rust Twotter
11th Nov 2013, 04:45
When tagging seabirds as part of one's duties on a weather station, we found the easiest way to catch Giant Petrels was to get upwind of them then jog up to them. They're so big they need to launch into the prevailing wind so catching them was a matter of being slightly fitter than they were and running them down.

Also the only birds I've seen showing embarrassment. We'd sneak up on them underwater and give them a dunking by grabbing their feet and pulling them under for a second. When you surface near them they exude an air of embarrassment so great they won't even look at you, turning their heads away when you swim into their line of sight. Always wondered how they could feel that way given the state of them when found feasting on a seal carcass.:ooh:

11th Nov 2013, 06:56
When we were in Bougainville, next door's houseboy had a kite chick that was destined for the pot. For $1 I rescued him and we raised him with the assistance of the company didiman, who supplied us with chickens (kites need feathers in their diet). After an abortive attempt to fly, when he lit in a tree and was immediately covered in ants, he refused to try again. Eventually, again with the assistance of the didiman, he was flown on the company aircraft to the mainland, then taken to the Baiyer River Sanctuary.

Locally we occasionally have hawks around. I saw one just miss a soldier bird, while a crested pigeon hid in an overturned flower pot. Another time, saw one get an Indian dove, hitting our mirrored front window in the process. Also, while I was giving a kookaburra a snack, he suddenly took off. High above, he's spotted a hawk.

11th Nov 2013, 08:59
The Aborigines I stay with in NT have a kite in a cage,
was road trauma, broken wing, never fly again. Sits in
a large cage just by the kitchen.

They are so eagle eyed, he knows when fresh meat is around
- from coming back from hunting, he starts calling loudly
until he get a piece, or two !

I now cut a few bits extra from the left overs before we leave,
often with a bit of tough skin on for roughage.

11th Nov 2013, 10:16
In a hangar at Tullamarine where I worked we had a Wagtail which would patrol next to you every time you walked through the hangar wagging away as they do. As anyone in Oz would know they are stroppy little buggers.
One day I spotted him sitting stationary on the hangar floor, immobile, not a bit of movement. He remained like this for a couple of hours which was highly unusual for a Waggy. Then I spotted the reason. There he was, high up in the girders, a Hawk. sitting there like a feathered version of Darth Vader.
Time came to go home the Hawk was still sitting and the Wagtail was still immobile. The next morning they'd both gone. I like to think of them flying off into the sunset and living the rest of their lives as bosom buddies but I suspect it may not have been a good outcome for the Wagtail. :)

11th Nov 2013, 10:35
Good call Cattletruck.

Seagulls are my favourite birds. They remind me of a bunch of renegades, living life in their own way while noisily squabbling with each other.

Turns on the other hand are a bunch of vicious bastards that would soon as gash a hole in your head as lay an egg. Rough I tell you, rough!

Des & Dawn - The Seagull's Name Was Nelson - YouTube


11th Nov 2013, 12:34
One good tern deserves an oeuffer.

11th Nov 2013, 12:46
One good tern deserves an oeuffer




wings folded
11th Nov 2013, 13:29
A few years ago I had the mother and father of a seagull land on my little square of lawn which is part of a much bigger garden, surrounded by fairly tall trees.
I fairly often see them soaring in the overhead, but they never land as a rule.
I think it was a gull, but it was a chunky beast. Could have been an albatross.
It appeared to be surveying the terrain for the best take off direction, but took a good five minutes to think about it, and then appeared not to know what to do next.
I intervened, and chased it towards the part of the garden where a decent take off run can be achieved if you have STOL capabilities.
Its STOL capabilities were not first class, but it hammered its version of the throttles and got airborn, but probably tickled the tree tops with its undercarriage, and off it went, never to be seen again.
Ten minutes later I got a phone call from my sister in law saying that my brother had died ten minutes earlier.
No particular message, but it did move me a bit.

11th Nov 2013, 13:35
What's not to like about seagulls...?

Funny! This Sea Gull is brave! - YouTube


11th Nov 2013, 13:37
At my grand mothers funeral, which was in Australia as she had moved out here from the UK after her husband died, during the service, in the garden behind the coffin, two birds appeared in the Silver birch tree, a full adult male Blackbird and another bird which I can't remember the name of but very Australian. I think it might have been one of the honey eaters.

I thought that was quite moving, one for being British and one for her time in Aus.

11th Nov 2013, 19:35

What's not to like about seagulls...?

Park your newly-washed car on East Looe Quay for half an hour and you'll have your answer.

tony draper
11th Nov 2013, 20:36
Tiz said they be the souls of dead seafarers,arrrr, :rolleyes:

11th Nov 2013, 22:18
Just for the record most (non ignorant) dog owners wouldn't let our beloved pets eat a random bird as they are mostly disease ridden little fookers.

11th Nov 2013, 23:03
Our seagulls vary from delicate Kittiwakes through Herring Gulls to Great Black-backed Gulls - and Terns of course if you include them.

Newcastle-Gateshead has the largest inland colony of Kittiwakes (in the summer). They nest on buildings and bridges rather than cliffs..

The RSPB: Birds by family: Gulls (http://www.rspb.org.uk/wildlife/birdguide/families/gulls.aspx)

Albatrosses are not seen in the Northern Atlantic region.

12th Nov 2013, 02:49
Park your car in Dartmouth if you like sea gulls. The place must rate very high up the list for bird s**t capital of Britain.:sad:

23rd Dec 2013, 12:18
Call it divine providence but two weeks ago this magpie took up nearby residence and is enjoying our company - I've only ever fed him twice and that was yesterday and today.

Today while checking the letterbox I turned backand found him on the front verandah pecking at spiders on the brickwork. He then walked with me along the driveway to the backyard. He's a curious fella, I think he could be a juvenile, but he is quiet and well mannered.

I've called him Christo, after Christmas.


23rd Dec 2013, 15:28
Well done Catletruck... Thank you for your gesture. My son is called Jonathan because of good old Richard Bach... and his famous book that influenced me so much in my youth. Sea gulls, albatrosses, sea eagles, dolphins... such good soarers, gliders. My favorite animals.
A short vid that is garanteed to make my throat go dry and my eyes lubricating (a bit)...
Wild Dolphin "Asks" Divers to Help Free Itself from Hook - YouTube

El Grifo
23rd Dec 2013, 18:05
Bloody marvellous alicopter. Thank you for that :D

El G.

tony draper
23rd Dec 2013, 20:58
Yer good stuff,there is a similar clip knocking about of some divers helping a Whale,see if I can find it.
Here it be,