A Golden Eagle has been reunited with its owner after it was found on an Angus estate nine days after it went
Owner Les Gibson (54), from County Durham, lost two-year-old Odin at the end of November when flying him at Glen Muick Estate in Aberdeenshire.
A skilled falconer, with 20 years of experience with buzzards and hawks, Les last saw Odin flying onto neighbouring ground at Glen Tanar before losing sight of him altogether.
The young eagle was buffeted in high winds, with its tracking transmitters waterlogged, and Les - who was on holiday in Scotland - feared he would never Odin again.
He took to social media to ask members of the public to mount a watching brief for the lost bird of prey and, after days of worry, his SOS was answered.
The online messages were seen by gamekeepers at Millden Estate in Angus and, when a young gamekeeper spotted an eagle sitting on a meal of fresh rabbit, he contacted Head Gamekeeper Mark Palmer (33).
Mark said: “The eagle had leather straps or ‘jesses’ on its feet. I had seen the posts about the lost eagle so I contacted Les Gibson and told him we had spotted a bird with ‘jesses’ on its feet.
“Les came up, stayed over locally on the Friday night and we went out onto the moor to have a look on Saturday. We went out onto the top of the hill and saw a good sheltered bit where an eagle would look to find prey. We started looking around and there he was, about 200 yards away. Les was ecstatic. He had been through so much worry. We were just glad we could help out.”
Using a lure of hare, Les managed to coax Odin back in.
Despite the young bird’s ordeal and cross-regional adventure, his ecstatic owner found him to have thrived on the grouse moors of Angus, enjoying a plentiful supply of food.
Les said: “It was unbelievable to see him again.“I didn’t sleep a wink after he went missing. He was a bit wet but I put him on the scales and I would normally fly him at 7lbs 5 or 6 ounces. I didn’t have enough weights with me to get a definite reading, but he was up at 8lbs, which shows he had fed well in Angus.
“Normally, when you are flying an eagle you can feel the keel bone but he was too plump for that. When they have fed, it is harder to lure them back in with food. I thought he might have shied away but he recognised my vehicle and, thanks to some brown hare, I managed to walk him in.
“I had people calling me and saying he had been seen in Aberdeen and in car parks in Dundee! When I got the call from Mark, I knew that was more likely. I’d like to thank the gamekeepers at Millden for looking out and acting so quickly. I never thought I’d see him again after losing him so long ago, and in such bad weather.”