Tuesday 24 August 2010

Gannet in our Dining Room

Not a gluttonous guest but a full grown bird. Our neighbour had found it amongst his cattle half a mile upstream from where the Dwyryd becomes tidal at Maentwrog. Last year he presented us with an injured buzzard which had taken a chunk out of his finger– this time he was taking no chances and the gannet’s beak was knotted with farmer’s orange twine.

We made our guest comfortable on a bed of straw in a large cardboard box and closed the lid for fear it would frighten the dog with its enormous beak and piercing blue eyes. Then we called for Benji who, as well as being warden for the local ospreys, runs a bird rescue service and has a back yard alive with owls, buzzards and falcons.

He inspected the bird’s wings, quite a span when extended at a dining table, and judged both to be in good working order. In putting the bird back in the box the string slipped off and its beak was open at a 90° angle ready to strike. I fetched a strong rubber band that had come with the morning post and Benji, with his fist clenched round the beak, slid it on like securing the claw of a lobster.

There was a long scar across the top of his hand from yesterday’s gannet rescue near Barmouth. ‘I stuck one hand in sideways as far as it would go, so that it couldn’t close, held it open with my other hand, but managed to catch myself on the sharp, hooked bit at the end’. Back to Benji ’s for a mackerel supper and a day’s rest in the cardboard box, the bird should then be ready to be released by some cliffs.

Two gannets in as many days was a coincidence and he’d never heard of one being found so far inland. (August 2009)

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