Gamekeepers and estate staff in Angus have been left saddened by the death of a young kestrel they hoped could have been released back into the wild.
The young bird of prey, affectionately named ‘Harry’, was spotted by a grouse beater in Glenesk as teams assembled for a shoot day. The kestrel’s erratic behaviour led the staff to kick-start a rescue mission in the hope they could get him the attention required.
Invermark Estate Head Gamekeeper Garry MacLennan managed to land Harry safely by using a fishing net and handed the shivering bird over, to be taken for treatment. It was suspected, due to the bird’s prominent chest bone, that he had been struggling to feed itself.
Phone calls and a dash to the nearby rural vet, with Harry being kept secure in the car, then ensued before he was looked over by the team at Robson Vets Limited. It was hoped that, if Harry responded to treatment, warmth and food, he could be re-released back onto the estate where he had been trying to hunt. Sadly, the staff were informed a few hours later that the bird had succumbed to its condition.
Between 1995 and 2012 kestrel numbers decreased by 65 per cent in Scotland- the biggest decline of any monitored bird species in the country, according to RSPB Scotland.
They are still seen in good number on the managed moorlands of the Angus glens.
“We all had high hopes Harry was going to make it. When the gamekeepers spotted him, they could tell quite quickly that he wasn’t flying very well and was flying very low.
“After catching him, it was a case of getting him to the vets in Laurencekirk as quickly as possible. The hope was that, if Harry perked up, he could be re-released. He was quite cold and subdued for a wild bird of prey and the vet said he appeared to be exhausted, even though there were no signs of injuries or damage. We are lucky to still see quite a lot of Kestrels here on the estates, but it is never nice to see a young one perish, even if it’s nature,” said Lianne MacLennan, co-ordinator of the Angus Glens Moorland Group.