The booby’s progress
Two or three weeks ago, an unusual red-footed avian arrived on our local beach and was synchronistically discovered by local resident, Gail Cohen. The red-footed booby, way off its expected flight path, has been slowly recovering its strength. HOT’s Chandra Masoliver, who volunteers at Mallydams Wood Wildlife Centre, gives a brief update on the red-footed booby, which is still alive and currently living in Fairlight.
The red-footed booby is looking much brighter now. He is in a larger room with the door and windows open during the day, and a heating lamp to protect him from the chill in the air of an English autumn. He has two low perches and moves from one to the other in a movement that is between a hop and flight. Often he sits with his wings out, in the way cormorants do when drying themselves. Boobies, cormorants, darters, gannets and shags are all of the sub order, Sulae.
In all, he is much more active and seems to take an interest in his surroundings, although he gets nervous if people approach too close, trembling all over lightly, from fear – or a warning of discomfort.
As with humans in captivity or other dire straits, one of the first signs in any living creature that they have given up and may well die, is not to take physical care of themselves. The booby now preens and cleans all his feathers frequently.
When he first arrived at Mallydams in early September, he weighed 950 grams, then he went down to 850 grams, managing to eat only six sprats at a time. He also got a throat infection. His appetite still goes up and down, but he now weighs a kilo and can manage up to 14 sprats on a good day. So there is hope for him, but no certainty, because of being in captivity, away from water and his natural habitat for so long. The paper work still drags on, preventing his return to warmer climes.
Pelican Harbour Rescue Centre, where it is planned British Airways will fly him to, is in Florida. By chance, Emre Yedidag, who took the photo of a booby in flight included in my first article, happens to live only seven miles away, and she has promised to keep us informed, if he ever gets there. I asked her how she and the rescue centre have survived through the hurricane that hit Florida only last week. “Overall, Matthew left us intact to hit farther north,” she said. “I do not believe impact was more than a regular storm here. No news about wildlife being affected.”
Unexpected arrival: Chandra’s previous HOT article about the red-footed booby’s arrival on our shores.
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