A gannet to dinner

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. The day before there had been a short but particularly violent storm that blew up from the coast - Huw Jenkins

Staying on the subject of gannets....I rescued a gannet once whilst fishing in Pembrokeshire many moons ago.

I could see it just within casting range, not moving and noticed some fishing net trailing behind it. I'm also used to seeing gannets in the air and not sat on the sea for hours so knew somethng was not quite right.

I decided to try and catch it...(it seemed like a good idea at the time and there was no-one to talk me out of it)

I removed my hook and just cast with a lead weight with anchors on the side (fishermen will know what I mean).

After about 10 mins of near misses, I managed to cast beyond the gannet and reeled in slowly. I managed to snag the fishing net it was caught on, and then the fight began!

I've caught a few fish in my time - pike probably being the biggest and meanest but nothing could match a gannet for sheer pulling power. ;0

It took me about 20 mins of reeling to get it in close enough to the cliff edge to allow me to get near enough to try and free it of it's man made prison.

I droppped my rod and climbed down the cliff with knife in hand, ready for action. The gannet wasn't daft and knew exactly what was coming.

The net was wrapped around it's legs pretty tightly so it probably hadn't eaten in a while.

I grabbed the bird and pulled it in close and after a little bit of effort, sawed through the net and freed the birds legs.

I hadn't realised how big they were - it was like wrestling a swan with it's massive white wings beating furiously around my earlobes!

It was at this point that it sunk it's beak into the fleshy part of my hand to show it's gratitude and flew off, leaving me with wet feet and a bloody hand.

It felt good though. I didn't catch any fish but had a warm, fuzzy glow instead, knowing that I'd helped save a magnificent sea bird.



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