The Eagle Owl that is, landing at Loch Lomond Bird of Prey Centre after being relocated from the Home of the UK Submarine Service – HM Naval Base Clyde.
The 19-year-old bird of prey, dubbed “Miranda”, was first spotted at the Argyll and Bute defence site two years ago.
It’s thought that she was abandoned by her owner, released on the nearby A817 haul road running between Faslane and Loch Lomond. She soon made her way to Faslane however where personnel working at the Submarine Service’s HQ in Belmore House first got a glimpse.
“Despite being nearly two feet tall, she kept a relatively low profile,” explained John Harkins, part of HM Naval Base Clyde’s Environmental Health team.
“News of the first sightings came to me from the area of Belmore House, but increasingly there were reports from other locations around the Naval Base.
“Miranda was discouraging the number of nuisance seagulls that nest on rooftops so I would have left her on-site if I could have!”
The Eurasian Eagle Owl is one of the largest species of owl in the world. Found across much of Europe, usually in rocky areas close to woodland, they mostly hunt at night, preying on small mammals and other birds.
Female Eagle Owls like Miranda are larger than the males and can have a wingspan of over six feet. Even though they are a non-native species the creatures are protected by UK law.
“We went to lengths not to interfere with the Eagle Owl,” continued John Harkins. “But we received reports that she was at the Northern end of the base acting strangely, so we had to investigate.”
It soon became apparent that Miranda was sick and in need of help.
“She was quite lethargic and underweight,” said John. “She didn’t seem interested in food and was hopping across the roads, rather than flying. I was quite concerned for her health.”
Enter Kevin Robinson from Loch Lomond Bird of Prey Centre. John Harkins contacted the local expert for his assistance with Miranda.
“When John described Miranda’s condition I knew it was an animal welfare issue,” said Kevin. “When I came into the base and saw her I could see that she was malnourished. She had been trying to fend for herself, but I don’t think she would have survived another winter.”
Kevin took the Eagle Owl back to the Bird of Prey Centre at Loch Lomond Shores where she was examined thoroughly. Malnourished and suffering from a stomach infection, Miranda was given medicine and proper nutrition to help her recovery. They also found cable ties around the bird’s legs, put there by her previous owner, which had to be removed.
“Miranda was ringed and we attempted to trace her owner, but unfortunately she was not registered” continued Kevin. “She was incredibly well mannered and it wasn’t long before she settled in. Eventually we contacted DEFRA and completed the paperwork to become her new owners.”
After a few weeks of care, Miranda built-up muscle and continued to thrive. She now takes part in public shows as one of the star attractions at the Bird of Prey Centre.
Although the Bird of Prey Centre is closed for the winter they will open their doors to the public around mid-February next year.
Situated within Loch Lomond and the Trossachs National Park, the Bird of Prey Centre is a family run business with three generations involved on a regular basis.
One of the premier Bird of Prey Centres in the country, it has a fantastic variety of buzzards, hawks, eagles, kestrels, falcons and owls of all sizes.
John Harkin said: “We are really grateful to Kevin and the team at Loch Lomond Bird of Prey Centre for rehoming Miranda. It’s great that she is now back to full health, settled into her new home, and that she is nearby so we can pay her a visit!”