When one-time Forster couple, Allan and Gail Whitwell retired from full-time work they upped stumps and took a tree-change.
Moving just inland from the coast to a four acre property at Rainbow Flat, the couple had long wanted to volunteer as wildlife rescuers
They bought the small acreage with the sole purpose of converting the property to a haven to care for injured and sick native animals and birds, volunteering with FAWNA (For Australian Wildlife Needing Aid).
“The property has given us the room for a rehabilitation section for our birds,” Gail said.
While Gail is FAWNA’s southern area bird co-ordinator, she also is set-up to care for macropods (kangaroos and wallabies).
She currently has two joey wallabies, two magpies and a lorikeet in her care.
“I love when you take an injured animal which can’t fly, nurse it back to health and then release it back into the wild,” Gail said.
“I have always love birds, and the different types of birds.”
With just a handful of volunteers within the local group, which stretches 18,000 square kilometres through the local government areas of Mid Coast, Dungog, Port Macquarie-Hastings and Kempsey, FAWNA is on the shout-out for more volunteers,
“We need to recruit new volunteers to help with injured and harmed seabirds along the entire Macquarie coastal waters region, from Smokey Cape to Seal Rocks,” Gail said.
“Our seabirds are constantly coming into strife and we simply don’t have enough volunteers to spot for birds in trouble and arrange rescues when needed.”
Increasingly we are seeing the impact from ingestion of plastics and all these can have devastating consequences for these birds.Gail Whitwell
Gail explained, living away from the coast did have disadvantages when she was needed to attend to an injured pelican.
“By the time I have driven to the site, the bird could have flown away.”
She said some of the problems birds faced was wing and beak injuries, impact wounds, entanglement in discarded fishing line and tackle and succumbing to exhaustion from long migratory flights to or from breeding grounds.
“Increasingly we are seeing the impact from ingestion of plastics and all these can have devastating consequences for these birds.”
FAWNA, the only all-species group licensed by National Parks and Wildlife Service to operate in the region, is holding an induction training course on rescue and immediate care of wildlife at Johns River on Saturday, October 6.
If sufficient interested members can be found the group will conduct specialist on-site seabird training in coastal hotspot locations for pelicans, the main bird species needing help along the coast.
The training offers insights into the tried and true ways to confidently and successfully rescue and transport these wildlife patients.
Information on what is involved in becoming a FAWNA member can be found on the website www.fawna.org.au or call Gail on 0477 846 186.