OWNERS of a falcon that went missing during a flying demonstration have thanked the eagle-eyed gamekeeper who reunited them.
Two-year-old Lenny, a lanner falcon from Raptor World at the Scottish Deer Centre just outside Cupar, was blown off course during a show at Falkland Palace.
He remained at large for a week and his owners were becoming increasingly worried for his safety.
However, they were delighted when they heard a distinctive bird had been found by a gamekeeper on a Perthshire estate, who had given it water and kept it safe.
Gamekeeper Willie Bain contacted a falconer friend, who was able to post the bird’s identity number on a social networking site, leading to Lenny being collected safely.
Stewart Miller, a partner in Raptor World and the person flying Lenny when he was blown off track, thanked Mr Bain for his actions and presence of mind.
He said: “We are very grateful to Mr Bain for helping us get Lenny back.
“Lenny is a happy little falcon and he was sorely missed.
“We were not sure if he would be self-sufficient but his weight indicates that he had managed to eat over the six-day period and he is actually in good condition.
“This is not something that has happened to us before,” he continued.
“Falcons can sometimes get blown off course in high winds, especially where there are trees, which can stop them from re-locating the falconer.
“I thought he might come back relatively quickly or be sighted because he is tame and was wearing a bell.
“But when we didn’t get sight of him after a day, we thought he must have moved on and, with the wind picking up as well, we were aware that trying to locate him would be like looking for a needle in a haystack.”
After several days on the wing in a north westerly direction, Lenny found his way to an estate in Perthshire, 20 miles away, where he was found by Mr Bain.
“I saw a bird sitting on a fence with its wings out and I went over to see what it was,” he said.
“It looked a bit like a normal falcon but with distinctive colouring on its head.
“I could see it was tame and I called a falconer friend of mine, gave him the identity number and the bird basically hopped onto my hand and I walked down the road with it; myself and my labrador, Jake.
“I didn’t really have anywhere to keep it and I had no idea who may have lost it, but I managed to keep it safe and enclosed and gave it some water until it could be picked up.”