One Harried Harrier

Anyone who is in the remotest way associated with wildlife has an expectation in the eyes of the general public to be some sort of Daktari.

I remember some years ago being presented on the doorstep with a cylindrical tupperware container into which had been prised a Little Owl; a broken winged, one eyed Little Owl at that! I was expected to mend aforesaid owl and rehabilitate it into the wild; an innocent though well-meant expectation. Having said that, I am always willing to help.

Last week I received a phone call from a gentleman in the village who had found ‘A Hawk’ in some distress at the roadside. I was with him within a few minutes but still not knowing exactly with what I was to be presented. Given it had been found close to a road I approached the cat box into which the bird had been placed expecting to see a Sparrowhawk with a broken wing. Sparrowhawks fly low and ‘hedge hop’ to catch prey. Because they fly so low if the bird hits an oncoming vehicle there are no prizes for guessing which gets the worst end of the deal. It was a surprise therefore when I peered into the box I saw a beautiful young Marsh Harrier staring back at me.

I took the bird to Falcon Cottage where I carefully tipped her out onto the lawn. Initial examination indicated the bird had no obvious injuries save for a callous on one foot. The wings appeared to be in good shape but the bird was seriously underweight and probably dehydrated. A trip to the animal hospital at Ridlington was on the cards.

I received a phone call from the hospital the same evening. Both the caller and I shared an appreciation of the animal’s beauty and wanted her to do well. She had been fed and put to rest pending an examination by a vet. It was suggested the callous on the foot had hindered hunting capabilities and she was slowly starving to death.

Update: Sadly she died overnight. Both I and the team at Ridlington missed a hole in the lower chest on initial examination – this may be a gunshot wound – x-rays of the corpse are pending. So sad.

Marsh Harrier

2 Responses to “One Harried Harrier”

  1. 1 Bea
    Sep 3, 2013 at 7:22 am

    The staff at Seal and Bird Rescue do brilliant work. Sadly,a juvenile blackbird we took there in July after a cat attack didn’t make it either. I’m looking forward to an update on the cause of death…a tragic loss of a stunning creature.

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Sep 2013


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