After one too many photos of strangled birds on the Bird Ecology Study Group blog, I just had to take that entangled kite down. Stuck up a young Casuarina tree on Ketam Beach 3, Pulau Ubin, we noticed the kite from the long string which extended to the shore, during the International Coastal Cleanup.
We had been working the shore for about an hour, with the industrious students of the NUS University Scholars Programme and the Delegation from the European Union. We had been doing a decent job tackling the trash on a beach strewn with thousands of pieces of styrofoam.
However for a brief moment, I was preoccupied not with the new Ketam Beach 3 shore, but rather with getting up that tree to clear away that low-hanging kite. I called rather optimistically on the light-framed Evelyn standing nearby, before the low-pitched guffaw of Kenneth Pinto caught my attention. He gamely ambled over and hoisted my almost 100kg weight far up that tree that I could reach for the lower branches.
His effort was so impressive it was funny!! His whole body shook with the effort and that nearly had me overcome with laughter – but that would have sent both of us toppling! So I held it in and was amazed to find myself up fa enough to start climbing.
I got to the kite easily with thin branches supporting my weight but found it hopelessly entangled in vines. I thought of the scissors and parang in my full pack and shrugged my shoulders and started chewing through two rather thick strands of some creeper that didn’t taste half-bad.
Finally in jubilation, I was able to call out to the data recorder below “one kite!” and threw the tangled mass of kite and vegetation down. She neatly avoided being hit by it and the other students bagged it. Then I slid down and found Kenneth ensuring my descent was graceful.
An alert Evelyn, released of the herculean task of hoisting me up that tree, took the earlier photos with Kenneth’s camera which he had handed over for safe keeping. He took over to record my ascent and they weren’t too undignified to share here.
The series amused the rest of the coordinators back in NUS Lab 7 later and I was cheered by the effort myself too. For I was glad we’d avoided at least one other strangulation.