Keith Williams with the red tail tropicbird that found its way to Tenterfield.
Keith Williams with the red tail tropicbird that found its way to Tenterfield.

Seabird headed for the hills

WHEN not scouring the oceans for their next feed of fish and squid, endangered red-tailed tropicbirds normally hang out on remote cliffs at Lord Howe Island.

But this little guy is a long way from home.

This juvenile tropicbird was found at the Tenterfield pool earlier this week - more than 1000km from his breeding colony.

The stunned pool manager called the National Parks and Wildlife Service and he was taken to Australian Seabird Rescue's headquarters in Ballina for care.

ASR's Keith Williams said the bird was probably about 18 months to two years old.

"He's a juvenile, because he doesn't have his long red feathers yet and the adults are normally completely white," he said.

"He probably ended up in Tenterfield because of the strong winds and weather systems we've been having recently.

"He would have just got caught up in a strong wind current.

"We get one or two of these birds a year.

"It's quite rare for us to have them in care, but they are beautiful birds and one of our favourites to have here at the centre.

"Luckily this guy is in pretty good shape.

"We'll keep him here in quarantine for a couple of days until we get some better weather and then he'll be released.

"We don't like to keep them in care for too long; it's good to get them back out in the wild."

Mr Williams said the young tropicbird had a pretty good chance of finding his way back to the colony on Lord Howe Island.

In the past ASR has taken care of a few wayward seabirds.

One of the most unusual was a light mantled sooty albatross.

"I think it was only the 10th ever sighting of one of these albatrosses in NSW," Mr Williams said.

"They are true seabirds and rarely come to the mainland."



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