tbabswift

“Kreee-kreee,” exclaimed the first swift tern chick worriedly.
After a moment of consideration the second one said: “Kree-kree…”
The first looked at the third expectantly.
“Kree-kree,” added the third.
After a brief discussion, the three came to the conclusion that anything is better than this stifling heat.
They took the plunge from the Nelson Mandela Gateway at V&A Waterfront, hoping against hope that their wings could carry their weight.
They should have listened to the fourth chick, who despite being a smarty-pants, knew a thing or two about gravity.
The chicks pummelled down towards the ground in hypnotic patterns, something the mass of on looking swift tern chicks thought might indeed be better than the hot roof.
The fourth chick looked on in horror as all of his friends nose-dived into the deck and into the ocean.
“Kree-kree,” he said haughtily while bouncing from one foot to the other.
The scene transpired on one of the hottest days ever in Cape Town in March.
Eighty-seven chicks were saved from certain death by Southern African Foundation for the Conservation of Coastal Birds (SANCCOB) volunteers and the Two Oceans Aquarium.
Some are still recovering at SANCCOB’s rehabilitation centre in Table View, while 65 have recently been released from Robben Island.
“It was absolutely horrifying,” says volunteer Edna Hime from Sea Point.
She and her partner, Ted van der Meulen, were called to the harbour on the day the temperature soared into the forties.
What waited for them was the dreadful scene of tens of swift tern chicks wriggling around on the warm deck and some struggling to stay afloat in the ocean.
On land a security guard helped them to collect the chicks and putting them in boxes and on the water, staff from the Two Oceans Aquarium fished out the birds and a diver also lent a hand to collect as many as possible.
Edna said the most appalling sight of the rescue mission was that chicks and younglings continued to plummet from the roof as a last resort to escape the unbearable heat.
SANCCOB sent two bakkies to the Waterfront, so that the heat-stressed chicks could be rushed to the centre in Table View.
The centre’s spokesperson, Francois Louw, elaborated: “The recent rise in temperatures in Cape Town caused most of the adult birds to temporarily leave the nests in order to escape the heat. Unfortunately, many of the the chicks followed suit without being able to properly fly yet and plummeted to the bottom of the building.”
Upon arrival at SANCCOB, the little chicks were immediately stabilised, examined by the veterinarian for possible injuries, treated for heat stress and provided with a unique identification number to individually monitor each chicks’ rehabilitation progress.
“During the next couple of weeks, the chicks will receive a balanced nutritional diet of squid and pilchards, a daily dose of vitamins, kept hydrated with electrolyte fluids and provided with fresh water to cool down in,” said Louw, before adding that the handling of the birds will be kept to a minimum to make their stay at SANCCOB as stress-free and comfortable as possible.
“Once the birds have passed all SANCCOB’s release criteria, which include waterproofing evaluations and flying tests, they will receive identification rings and will be released at Robben Island where they will be monitored in the future,” he concluded.
This week the spokesbird of the swift tern chicks sent a letter to TygerBurger in which he, most possibly, expressed his heartfelt gratitude to all involved in the rescue mission.
When looking at the emphasis on the second syllable, it is likely that he was one of the birds who jumped off the building.
There exists some speculation that the bird wanted the public to know that if anyone would like to make a contribution in aid of SANCCOB’s work to care for these beautiful creatures until they are old enough to be released back into the wild, then they can go to http://www.sanccob.co.za or call 021 557 6155.
More cannot be accurately deduced from the letter, which simply reads: “Kreee-kreee.”

***DISCLAIMER: THIS ARTICLE WAS PUBLISHED IN TYGERBURGER, A CAPE TOWN BASED MEDIA24 COMMUNITY NEWSPAPER. IT MAY NOT BE DUPLICATED WITHOUT ACCREDITING THE SOURCE – TYGERBURGER, MEDIA24.***

Advertisements