It’s been a very blustery day, it’s nearly dark and I’m just settling down for the evening when there’s an urgent message to a small group of nature enthusiasts on Westray that there’s a “Young Gannet injured in road. Looks like broken wings?” Within minutes I’ve surprised myself by getting two large velvet curtains, a pair of leather gauntlets, some protective goggles and a torch in a bag and I’m heading down the road to find it.
It looks a bit of a mess. With a curtain over it and a firm hand on its dagger of a beak we get it into a dog cage and back for the night. In the morning it appears that its wings aren’t broken, they are tangled up with one another. Once untangled it’s feisty and pecking anything careless enough to come near.
It’s the first time I’ve been this close. Its plumage is remarkable:
It seems a little bruised and battered and is possibly a little dehydrated but it edges out of the cage on the beach:
It walks down to the water and swims off.
I hope it will recover and fly. I’m told it’s been named Gertrude. “Gertrude Tanglewing,” I say.
They say ‘Take only pictures, leave only footsteps,’ but we decided to take a footstep home. I just need to draw a picture ... Read more