A rare and special visitor to the NSW Far South Coast was being cared for by Bermagui veterinarians this week.
Bermagui local Jenifer James at first thought she was seeing a piece of tissue flapping in the wind while checking Long Swamp for distressed wildlife during Tuesday's storm.
In fact it turned out to be a white tern, a species rarely seen on the Australian mainland, let alone this far south according to Bermagui veterinarian Carl von Schreiber.
He said the closest nests are found many kilometres away on Norfolk Island (1860km from Bermagui), as well as on Lord Howe Island (990km away) where a colony had recently congregated.
Ms James had been checking the beaches in the Bermagui area for any distressed animals prior to the storm from 3-5pm on Tuesday.
She said she had checked Long Swamp as the last resort before heading back to Bermagui when she caught sight of the bird.
"Fortunately I realised what it was and picked it up, it was very tired and had no resistance at all," she said.
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Dr von Schreiber said it was fortunate Ms James had been vigilant. He said it was a good time for people to be on the lookout as there could still be some exhausted birds to be found.
"In this kind of weather we do get a lot of exhausted wildlife found. Some are found too late but like in this case, sometimes we can save them in the nick of time," Dr von Schreiber.
Ms James has had previous experience in taking care of injured wildlife from her time coordinating a carers group after the bushfires of 2019-20.
"It just becomes second nature. From our experience during the fires, we're always looking now.
"I had some towels in the back and a box just in case," Ms James said.
It was a chance encounterJenifer James
Once the bird had been wrapped up, Ms James transported it to the Bermagui vet clinic where Dr von Schreiber was able to assess it before wildlife rescue professionals arrived.
Dr von Schreiber said the bird had been a bit underweight and had used up almost all of its reserves getting to the swamp.
He explained that the most important thing for people to remember when rescuing a distressed bird is not to feed it, as this can cause more harm than good.
In fact he urged anyone who finds birds to reach out to WIRES and Australian Sea Bird Rescue so they can be treated properly.
Ms James said she had had the wildlife rescue person on the phone Wednesday morning who confirmed the bird is regaining its strength and has just started eating again.