Tweeddale osprey returned to the wild

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A RESCUED osprey, tired, hungry and unable to fly has recovered and been returned to the wild, writes Sally Gillespie.

TheSouthern reported the local bird’s plight in August and earlier this month his rescuers released the two-year-old male near where he was born in Tweeddale.

Tweed Valley osprey officer Diane Bennett said: “We were just so excited, it was really emotional seeing him go.

“It could have gone wrong, ospreys do not fare well in captivity at all. We couldn’t have released him earlier because he couldn’t fly and would have been susceptible to fox predation or he would have starved. The decision to take him into captivity wasn’t taken lightly.”

The bird was found in the Yarrow Valley in mid-August.

He had been entangled in pond netting, but although he had managed to free himself, he was exhausted and wouldn’t fly even after Ms Bennett fed and looked after the bird of prey for two days.

“I had to force feed him to keep his energy levels up and to prevent dehydration, but he still wouldn’t fly, so I took him to the South of Scotland Barony Wildlife Hospital in Dumfriesshire for rest and recuperation”, she said.

The osprey spent two weeks in the care of Tricia Smith at the wildlife hospital then Tony Lightley, wildlife manager with Forestry Commission Scotland, along with Tricia, undertook some test flights with the bird.

Mr Lightley said: “We needed to check whether he was strong enough to make it on his own. We eventually brought him back to the nest site where he was raised and waited with baited breath as he was released.

“He sat there for a few moments and then took off. It was a great sight to see.”

Ms Bennett said: “He just sat on the ground taking a good look round – he knew where he was – and then he took off. It was the strongest, most purposeful flight – it was just fantastic – and we just know he is going to make it, there’s no reason why he won’t.”

The young bird had progressed from being force-fed to managing to eat a quarter of a fish on his own and progressing to feeding himself with two whole fish a day.

The ringed bird was traced back to the Tweed Valley project and he would have migrated over to Africa and returned this summer for his first visit back to Scotland.

Ms Bennett said: “It’s nice this is a Borders bird and that he came back already. He’s obviously looking for territory but he’s a bit early – if he comes back next year he will be ready to find a mate.”