Gannet Blown Off-Course, by Strong Winds
Dr. James J. S. Johnson
For Thou hast been a strength to the poor, a strength to the needy in his distress, a refuge from the storm, a shadow from the heat, when the blast of the terrible ones is as a storm against the wall. (Isaiah 25:4)
What is an oceanic fish-eating seabird doing atop an inland trampoline in England? That was the question, recently, when a North Atlantic Gannet was seen resting on a British trampoline.(1)
Later, the weary-looking gannet moved to a garden, before it was gently captured by a resident (using a towel), who turned the poor seabird over to animal carers, who should return the bird to the wild after its health is aptly rehabilitated.
A seabird native to the North Atlantic has been rescued by the RSPCA after it took up residence in a Norfolk garden. Dawn Austin discovered the gannet resting on a trampoline in her North Wootton garden on Tuesday [June 2, 2020] and contacted vets when it did not fly away. … [Someone with] the RSPCA [Royal Society for Prevention of Cruelty to Animals] said there were no “obvious injuries” but the gannet was “very weak” and vets were doing all they could to help him. … feeding him three times a day as he was unable to feed himself, but they hoped that “having a chance to rest and recover” would help him “find the strength to pull through”.(1)
But gannets are seabirds—they belong at sea, not on trampolines! Gannets are gregarious seagulls that go far offshore to scoop up North Atlantic fish.
Gannets are a protected species under the Wildlife and Countryside Act 1981 and can dive at speeds of 60mph (96.5kmh) to catch fish.(1)
The largest seabirds in the North Atlantic can travel hundreds of miles from their homes just to catch food. … by following their elders. Scientists recorded thousands of [these] seabirds commuting to and from the Bass Rock, in the outer part of the Firth of Forth in the east of Scotland.(2)
So how did the ocean-faring gannet end up resting on an inland trampoline? The animal protection charity guessed that the bird “was blown off course”.(1)
This is understandable, since the British Isles (and their coastal waters) have been experiencing some weird weather lately.(3)
Meanwhile, being blown off-course can change an individual’s destiny, and thus also he destinies of progeny who descend from that individual.(4)
And, in some cases, a ship being blown off-course can lead to world-changing consequences.(5),(6)
Consider how the apostle Paul, and those traveling with him in a boat, were blown off-course—and eventually shipwrecked off the coast of Malta, in the Mediterranean Sea.(5) Paul’s ministry unto Maltese individuals would not have occurred had it not been for the “accidental” shipwreck that providentially occurred there.(6)
Likewise, the Mayflower Separatists (“Pilgrims”) who sailed west in A.D.1620—400 years ago—were blown off-course, reaching (and settling in) what is now part of Massachusetts, rather than territory farther south (in “Virginia”, which then stretched up to the Hudson River) as planned.(5)
Yet God’s providence, seen in hindsight, makes sense of the Pilgrims landing at Plymouth—and thus the Pilgrims were forced to establish their own Scripture-based form of colonial self-government, rather than the Pilgrims arriving in “Virginia” territory, to merely join a preexisting colony south of Plymouth.(5)
Being blown off-course can be scary, to be sure—losing control (or, or put more accurately), losing the feeling of being in control) is usually a nerve-wracking experience. Yet God is in control—even in the storms of life.(7)
And, providentially speaking, sometimes an unexpected destination includes some unexpected help from strangers, such as Squanto and Hobomok, if you are a Mayflower Pilgrim. Or, if you are a wind-tossed seabird like a North Atlantic gannet, the help might come from Dawn Austin and some RSPCA vets.(8)
- Staff writer. 2020. North Atlantic Gannet Found on Norfolk Trampoline. BBC News – England (June 5, 2020), posted at https://www.bbc.com/news/uk-england-norfolk-52938253 .
- “By demonstrating that young gannets follow more experienced adults, we have shown that knowledge about the best feeding grounds may be being passed down from generation to generation.” Staff writer. 2019. Scientists Solve Mystery Behind How Gannets Hunt for Fish. BBC News – Scotland (November 1, 2019), posted athttps://www.bbc.com/news/uk-scotland-edinburgh-east-fife-50267180 . See also Wakefield, E. W., R. W. Furness, et al. 2019. Immature Gannets Follow Adults in Commuting Flocks Providing a Potential Mechanism for Social Learning. Journal of Avian Biology. Posted (September 18, 2019) at https://doi.org/10.1111/jav.02164 .
- “A top climate scientist has called for more investment in climate computing to explain the UK’s recent topsy-turvy weather.” Harrabin, R. 2020. Weird weather: Can computers solve UK puzzle? BBC News – England (June 5, 2020), posted at https://www.bbc.com/news/science-environment-52921479 .
- Johnson, J. S. S. 2014. People Yet to Be Created. Acts & Facts. 43(11):20, posted at https://www.icr.org/article/people-yet-be-created .
- It was 400 years ago that the Mayflower providentially sailed for America, arriving at Plymouth (Massachusetts). See James J. S. Johnson, Mechanical Multi-tasking on the Mayflower. Acts & Facts. 46(11):21 (November 2017), posted at https://www.icr.org/article/mechanical-multitasking-mayflower . See also James J. S. Johnson, Maple Syrup, Gold Nanoparticles, and Gratitude. Creation Science Update (May 25, 2020), posted at https://www.icr.org/article/maple-syrup-gold-nanoparticles-and-gratitude . The Spanish Armada’s disastrous experiences with “freak” storms during 1588 would be another example of sea-storms with historic consequences.
- Regarding the apostle Paul’s providential visit to and ministry at Malta, via shipwreck, see Acts 27:6-28:11.
- God is our personal refuge in all of the storms of life. Isaiah 25:4.
- God cares for birds at the individual level. Matthew 6:26; Luke 12:6-7.
Good perspective, William! The past few weeks, especially the past few days, have been like that, here, though not so much due to catastrophic weather. But God is very much in control! ( That’s a lesson that God taught the patriarch Job, long ago: https://rockdoveblog.wordpress.com/2020/09/08/job-chapter-39-gods-wisdom-providence-exhibited-in-wildlife-pairs/ )
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We can feel blown off course, but God has put us right where He wants us. And it often results in His glory. Just like birders get excited when they find a bird in an area it normally isn’t found (perhaps Hurricane Sally will bring us some cool sights), we should get excited when we see God’s hand move in circumstances that (as we define) are out of control. He has put us right where He wants us! William
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Maybe the Gannet felt like he needed some exercise. Then again, maybe he was trying to bounce up high enough to get a strong wind to blow him back on course. Great article, Dr. Jim. Great application.
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Great post Dr James, and a very pertinent message. We see Gannets off the coast here also, a new young pair each year also.
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Loved the account of the bird blown off course and the spiritual application.
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