We were off setting a dinner-time paddock for the cows yesterday afternoon when Zoe spotted something that looked like a dead calf on one of the cow tracks. But it was something even more heartbreaking.
The pelican lay below the power lines near our Land for Wildlife dam.
“What should we do with him? Can we give him to someone to look after?”
Even though she knew he was beyond hope, Zoe shared my impulse to somehow rescue the magnificent aviator from such an ignominious resting place. Perhaps someone would like to study him. We rang our next-door neighbour, Rob, whose network of environmentalists outstrips mine.
“Oh, that’s very sad. I will really miss that fellow,” he said. Rob’s place has hectares of very beautiful wetlands that he and wife Jenny have preserved and regenerated over three decades. A former engineer, Rob said there was a new power line swing arm design that should reduce bird deaths but this seemed little comfort as we stood by the gorgeous bird’s body.
A quick Google afterwards showed that our pelican is far from alone in his fate. In South Africa, for example, 12 per cent of blue cranes – the country’s national bird – are dying every year due to collisions with power lines and the UN has released guidelines in an attempt to curb the destruction.
But, not surprisingly, Rob had no contacts who’d like a dead pelican, no matter how magnificent. In the end, we decided to study him ourselves. The curved tip of his beak, his amazing expandable gullet and those outstretched wings. If nothing else, Mr Pelican offered my little farm girl an even greater appreciation of what it takes to fly.