Surfers and a fisherman team up to rescue an osprey caught in a fishing line off North Stradbroke Island | Wildlife
Barry Brown wanders the headlands of North Stradbroke Island every day with a camera in hand, hoping to capture something special, like a spouting whale or a fur seal resting on a rock.
Last week, Brown was at his usual spot near Whale Rock, at the South Gorge walk on the island southeast of Brisbane, looking for birds to photograph.
Several ospreys had arrived from their nearby nest that morning to joust on fish in the water. But around noon, Brown spotted an osprey flapping its wings and thrashing in the sea.
“I turned on the camera and zoomed in. I couldn’t see any fish,” he said.
“I felt quite anxious. I thought, man, if I had a surfboard, I’d jump in there and do something.
Minutes after Brown had that thought, he saw local surfer Bill Lowe and a friend grab their boards and paddle to the bird.
They found his feet and wings tangled in fishing line.
Attempts to gently untangle the osprey had limited success, before a nearby fisherman attached a knife to the end of his rod and handed it to them.
They managed to cut the line, before trying to bring the exhausted bird back to shore.
But when Lowe put his hands under the osprey, the bird latched on, drawing blood.
“Ah yeah, it wasn’t a serious injury… His little claws penetrated me a bit, but I put him back in the water and on my soft board, so he could hang on” , explains Lowe.
By then, Brown had gone into “reporter mode”, taking as many photos of the rescue as he could.
When he saw the osprey had reached shore, Brown brought a towel and they carried the bird to a quiet spot on the headland, away from the tourists on the South Gorge promenade.
Lowe’s grandchildren, who were picking up plastics on the beach that morning, watched over the osprey, chasing the butcher birds that surrounded it as it dried on the grass.
“He stopped shaking at a certain point,” says Brown.
“He did the osprey thing where the head goes side-by-side with the neck, lifted his shoulder, one of the wings, did a kind of left foot step, right foot step.
“[I thought] oh well, here we go. It therefore ran well, spread its wings and stuck to take-off. All good.”
Brown says he feels privileged to be part of a “really vibrant and observant community that tries to see the good every day.”
“It’s just proof that once in a while, despite all the trauma and hardship that happens in the community and in the environment, good things happen,” he says.
“I happened to be there at the usual place.”