National Sea Rescue Institute members had their hands full on Wednesday while trying to catch a fledgling flamingo that had found its way to Kleinemonde near Port Alfred.
Port Alfred station commander Stephan Slade said at about 2.45pm a call for assistance was received from NSRI trainee crew member Vivian Dames, who reported that a young flamingo appeared to be injured.
“A flamingo, appearing to be weak and dehydrated and crying, was following Vivian and other fishermen around on the beach,” Slade said.
Dames, an ichthyologist, initially noticed the flamingo — not yet pink and still sporting its fledgling brown colour — in the shore break, where it was being dumped by waves before washing onto the beach.
Flamingos, normally found around the Swartkops area, migrate north, mostly to Mozambique, in the autumn.
According to Slade, Dames suspected that the flamingo had most likely been left behind during the autumn migration period.
After numerous failed attempts to catch the bird, the alarm was raised and an NSRI sea rescue vehicle was dispatched to the scene.
The SA Foundation for the Conservation of Coastal Birds (Sanccob) was then contacted and advised the NSRI on how to capture the bird.
On arrival on the scene, the NSRI duty crew assisted Dames, and within about 15 minutes the bird was caught and placed in a box.
“One of our crewmen has named the flamingo Frank,” Slade said.
“Frank” was then transported to the Port Alfred SPCA and arrangements were made for Sanccob to collect the bird for treatment and rehabilitation.
“In an update from SPCA Port Alfred, they have conveyed to the NSRI that Frank is doing well, was treated for dehydration during the night and was transported to Bayworld in Port Elizabeth and into the care of Sanccob on Thursday morning,” Slade said.
After the bird was rehabilitated at Bayworld it would be released at Swartkops in the spring, at around the same time the flamingos are expected to return from the north, Slade said.