Muttonbird fledglings on the wing to Asia
COFFS HARBOUR residents living alongside the Coffs Creek Flying Fox colony are familiar with the sight of black creatures taking to the sky but now it's our seaboard residents' turn.
However, fortunately for them, instead of a black cloud of bats, it will be the flight of this season's shearwater or muttonbird fledglings who have this week begun their 5000km journey to South-East Asia.
National Parks and Wildlife Service (NPWS) ranger Ann Walton said up to 4000 fledglings, born on Muttonbird Island, would use the light of the full moon to guide them on their trip to the Philippines.
"This is often the only time Coffs Harbour residents have any evidence that muttonbirds use the island, as disorientated fledglings end up on the city's streets," Ms Walton said.
"The fledglings leaving the island instinctively seek out the light of the horizon and can easily be confused by Coffs Harbour's lights," Ms Walton said.
"All too often they become road fatalities or attacked by our pets.
"They need help to get started again as their very long wings make it almost impossible for them to take-off from flat ground."
If a muttonbird fledgling is found wandering the streets of Coffs Harbour there are a few basic tips to rescue the animal:
n Approach from behind;
n Encircle body and wings with a towel, keeping clear of the beak;
n Place in a cardboard box in a quiet location out of the sun;
n Do not feed the bird or give water for the short period before they are released;
n Call WIRES or deliver the bird to the Pet Porpoise Pool.
Ms Walton said rescuers were asked not to try and release the bird themselves as it required a special technique.
People who rescue a muttonbird should provide their name to WIRES or the Pet Porpoise Pool when they hand over the bird as they could win a dinner for two at the Tide and Pilot Restaurant.
The NPWS is inviting Coffs Coast residents to join them for a night of fine food, superb entertainment and a moonlit guided walk on Muttonbird Island to see first hand the release of a rescued bird and wave goodbye as it begins its long journey to the Philippines.
This will be held on Friday at the Tide and Pilot Restaurant.
"It's your chance to formally farewell Coffs Harbour's flock of feathered friends as they leave on their long and arduous flight to the Philippines," Ms Walton said.
She said the evening was a great way for local people to increase their understanding of these birds and how we can help ensure that they continue to survive as one of Coffs Harbour's great natural attractions.
n For further details and bookings for the Blacktie and Boots- Muttonbirds by Moonlight Dinner, call the NPWS on 6652 0900.