24th November, 2015

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Visited Ballina on Northern Rivers of NSW on Saturday to photograph terns and waders

Life and Death

This week was a mixed basket. On the rescue and release front I experienced both life and death in regards to animals that were in my care (albeit a short time). On the weekend I visited Ballina on the NSW North Coast to take some photos of Terns and Wader species and also checked out a hot tip on some Black Falcons that have had recently fledged young. Throw into the mix some major personal battles and it makes for a fantastic week!

My first experience this week was when I had an emergency call late at night for "an injured bird of prey approximately 30cm tall white with brown wings, described as having a broken wing". I initially thought it was an owl of some sort being so late at night but I headed out none the less. Upon arriving I saw a Nankeen Kestrel in very poor condition. One wing was not being held up and the other was also damaged. What had me more worried was that when I questioned the MOP (Member of Public) about what had happened he told me he had it for 2-3 days before calling any Wildlife Rescuers.

The conditions the bird was held in also was disgraceful as it was in a large rabbit cage next to the MOP's dogs kennel who would constantly bark at the animal. I took the Kestrel home and provided it with suitable accommodation and rest before I was to take it to CWH (Currumbin Wildlife Hospital) first thing in the morning. The morning came around very quickly and I checked on my patient. Unfortunately the broken wings and lack of immediate care took it's toll on the poor Kestrel and he had passed away during his sleep. I would like to have thought, the quiet environment was a nice place away from barking dogs and allowed him to close his eyes and drift off to Raptor heaven.

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Male Nankeen Kestrel with compound fracture to wing (left untreated for 3 days).

I later learnt that all compound fractures on raptors usually mean euthanasia due to the severity of the injury.

A few days later came the weekend. I drove down to Ballina on the Saturday for a sunrise arrival to shoot terns and waders. It was a productive morning with Crested Terns and Common Terns fishing and feeding their partners along with a few waders species present such as Red Necked Stint, Wandering Tattler, Greater Sand Plovers just to name a few. I came here with the intention to photograph Sooty Oystercatchers and I came back with a few keepers.

Both my Waders and Gulls & Terns galleries have been updated with about 15-20 new images HERE and HERE. Oh, I forgot to mention there is 1 new image in my Birds of Prey GALLERY (Brahminy Kite). All new images are always at the beginning of each gallery for ease of finding them!

On Sunday I went to look for Black Falcons. I arrived at my destination and spent 30 minutes waiting at the location I was provided. Unfortunately the weather forecast was not accurate and I arrived to a blanket of dark grey cloud (not good for photography). I decided to stick around until I saw something, when two juvenile black falcons emerged from a tree hollow. One had some prey in talon and both landed on a tree and watched me as I snapped some (terrible) photos and left. It was disappointing due to the weather but I was glad to see the falcons and will be back next week if weather permits.

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Immature Black Falcon with unidentified prey item (small bird of some description).

As I was rather disappointed with the weather I headed home and decided to edit some photos from the weekend. I received a call early afternoon about a Koala joey that was in trouble and needed to be retrieved about 10 minutes from my residence. Upon arriving I was greeted by what I felt like an entire street of people. I had kids, I had dogs, I had the elderly all waiting for me to arrive to help the joey out.

I was told that this particular Joey had just been seen over the past few days venturing from it's mothers pouch and had fallen once or twice to the ground with mum climbing down to retrieve it both times. According to the MOP it fell off mum a third time but into a small creek and had landed in water with mother being agitated she left the area without Joey. The MOPs dog alerted them to the joey being in the creek by barking and this is when I was called to the scene by the RSPCA. 

I retrieved the wet Joey and started to dry it off when I was then asked to check on a baby "Owl" by the same residents. They said to me "While you are here you may as well rescue this owl!" They took me to the owl which again was not, rather it a juvenile Tawny Frogmouth. I inspected the area and found it's parents and 2 other chicks directly below the tree so climbed up about 4 metres and placed it on a branch. I returned to the Joey that was being dried off by one of the elderly ladies who stayed around. I took him back dried the Joey off and drove immediately down to CWH. 

I later found out that afternoon that the Joey was extremely healthy albeit a little dehydrated and is now in the hands of one of our carers. In terms of rescues and releases this week it had some highs and lows, beginning with death and ending with life. 

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Koala Joey all dried and put in a pouch on it's way to hospital

Personally, it has been rocky with some bad news at the end of my Koala rescue. A person that I had held very close to my heart and shared my passion for wildlife and nature wasn't the person I thought they were. As we parted ways they used my interest in photography and wildlife against me and reasons for ending our relationship.

I have always thought my love of these things was a positive and something that most people would appreciate although, I do admit I do everything in the extremes and sometimes I exhibit OCD tendencies. I guess that it is my downfall in some ways but hopefully I will gain friendships of those who appreciate me and my obsessive compulsives ways someday down the track.

Thanks for reading as per usual, until next time.

Matt :-)

  • Kelly Neill

    on November 29, 2015

    MOP should be MUT what loser keeps an injured animal without seeking veterinary care. Good on you Matt. Good blog this week - raw and real.

  • Trevor Scouten

    on November 24, 2015

    Thanks for sharing matt, was a good read. Keep your chin up, your doing a great job and making many sacrifices for those who are voiceless and in need. Keep up the good work.

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