Barry Brown wanders out to the headlands of North Stradbroke Island every day with a camera in hand, hoping he’ll capture something special – like a whale spouting or a fur seal resting on a rock.
Last week, Brown was in his usual spot near Whale Rock, at the South Gorge walk on the island south-east of Brisbane, hunting for birds to photograph.
Several osprey had flown in from their nearby nest that morning to joust over fish in the water. But around midday, Brown spotted one osprey flapping its wings and struggling in the sea.
Surfers rescue tangled osprey off the coast of Queensland – video
“I got the camera going and zoomed in. I couldn’t see any fish,” he says.
“I was feeling pretty anxious. I thought, man, if I had a surfboard I’d jump in there and do something.”
A few minutes after Brown had that thought, he saw local surfer Bill Lowe and a friend grab their boards and paddle out to the bird.
They found its feet and wings tangled up in fishing line.
Back on dry land: the rescued osprey dismounts its rescue craft. Photograph: Howling Planet
Attempts to gently untangle the osprey had limited success, before a nearby fisherman tied a knife to the end of his rod and held it out to them.
They managed to cut the line, before seeking to transport the exhausted bird back to shore.
But when Lowe put his hands underneath the osprey, the bird gripped on, drawing blood.
“Ah yeah, it wasn’t a bad injury … His little talons went into me a bit, but I put him back into the water and on to my soft board, so he could grab on,” Lowe says.
Rescuers seek to warm and dry the osprey after its ordeal. Photograph: Howling Planet
By then, Brown had switched into “journalist mode”, taking as many photos of the rescue as he could.
When he saw the osprey had made it to shore, Brown brought …….