A prized golden eagle has been reunited with his owner after going missing during a holiday in Scotland.
The two-year-old bird, named Odin, disappeared nine days ago while out flying at Glen Muick estate in Aberdeenshire.
But an appeal on social media has led to the two being brought back together. And far from being the worse for wear after his ordeal, Odin has returned plumper than he left after dining out on Scotland’s wild game.
Owner Les Gibson, who had travelled to Scotland from his home in County Durham, lost sight of the young golden eagle when he flew onto neighbouring ground at Glen Tanar.
Mr Gibson, an experienced falconer with 20 years of experience working with buzzards and hawks, feared he would never see the young bird again.
To begin with he was able to track Odin using transmitters on the bird’s tail, but recent bad weather caused them to become waterlogged and malfunction.
In a last-ditch attempt to find the missing raptor, Mr Gibson took to social media. The online messages were seen by gamekeepers in Angus, who had spotted an eagle tucking into a freshly-killed rabbit at Millden estate.
“The eagle had leather straps, or jesses, on its feet,” said head gamekeeper Mark Palmer.
He immediately contacted Mr Gibson, who returned to Scotland to check out the sighting.
Mr Palmer said “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 hare as bait, Mr Gibson managed to coax Odin back in. Despite a battering from the weather, the juvenile raptor seemed to have thrived during his wild Scottish adventure.
“Normally, when you are flying an eagle you can feel the keel bone but he was too plump for that,” said Mr Gibson.
“It was unbelievable to see him again. I didn’t sleep a wink after he went missing.”
He was also relieved he was able to catch Odin after nine days of freedom and good food.
Mr Gibson added: “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.”