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Airgun victim Alan the heron released back to his Yarmouth Waterways home

PUBLISHED: 07:30 23 July 2016

David Carr with the heron which was shot with an airgun.

Picture: James Bass

David Carr with the heron which was shot with an airgun. Picture: James Bass

Archant Norfolk © 2016

A grey heron who wildlife experts feared would never fly again has been returned to his regular haunt at Great Yarmouth's Waterways.

David Carr with the heron which was shot with an airgun.

Picture: James Bass

David Carr with the heron which was shot with an airgun. Picture: James Bass

The familiar bird, known affectionately as Alan, received months of rehabilitation after suffering two airgun injuries, but was this week making himself at home again on the winding canals.

The treatment involved daily physio to free up his joint and enable him to regain the use of his wing.

And although it still hangs low Alan is none the worse for the attack and celebrated his release by immediately catching a fish.

After so long in captivity David Carr founder of Wild Touch, the Rollesby-based rescue centre that took him in, said it was a delight to see him make such a seamless first flight across the water and then stand stock still to survey the landscape he knew.

Alan the heron takes his first tentative steps on release.Alan the heron takes his first tentative steps on release.

Although there was another heron there it was hard to say whether they were a breeding pair or just shared the same territory, he added.

Alan was found injured in a nearby park in April having been shot.

At the time Mr Carr had doubts over whether he would fly again as one pellet had damaged his wing while the other had gone straight through his jaw.

However in the following months the bird, a protected species, responded well to all the care he was given getting through around £70 worth of herring, roach, carp and day old chicks.

Mr Carr said: “He took his time, but he did very well. He underwent quite a bit of physio to try and regain the use of his wing as they tend to heal quite stiffly and have limited use so we needed to free that joint. We were quite worried he wouldn’t regain full flight.

“The wing is very very slightly dropped and is a bit low. But it has not affected him at all. It has been a really happy outcome and we took him back to the Waterways because that was his territory.

“He came out and had a short flight down the bank and then stood and took it all in. He then proceeded to catch a fish and that was great to see him fishing and doing what he is supposed to be doing.”

The shooting was reported to police.

Wild touch is currently caring for around 130 animals including native wildlife and exotic species like reptiles and parrots.

At the moment it has a high number of orphaned seagull chicks which are being hand reared.

The animal hospital cares for its patients thanks to donations and fundraising, and will undertake school talks.

■ If you find an injured wild animal in East Norfolk, you can report it to Wild Touch on 07765 345441.

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