Last week I was 'standing by' at the dive shop, when newly certified PADI Scuba Diver, Mirko, came bounding up to the counter to say that he'd been out snorkelling off the beach and seen a drowning bird in the water. Without thought to his own safety (these birds have fierce looking talons), Mirko swam with this bird to the beach and came to find me.
We managed to scoop the bird up on a paddle and placed in the shade to recover and dry out. An hour or so later Tokoriki Diving Dive Instructor, and bird and 'animals in general' Whisperer, Will, managed to get hold of the bird and place into a cage. He then transported it to a quiet place, and fed it some raw chicken and water. We kept Harry the Harrier in captivity and nursed him back to health for a couple of days.
Irene, Mirko's wife, had seen the bird fall from the sky. We deduced that as he was a juvenile, and as it had been a very windy day, that he must have lost control, and plummeted to a most certain death.
Three days and lots of raw chicken later, Will carried the now feisty and fully recovered bird up the steep Tokoriki Island hill so that we could let it go in its natural habitat above the tree canopy. No sooner had we set it down and Will let go, it flapped it's wings and soared into the sky It was a beautiful moment and one we wanted to share.
Numbers of Pacific Swamp Harriers are declining through loss of habitat in Fiji.
Photo credit: @milindgupte_photography