A heron has been released back into the wild after it needed nearly three months of physiotherapy when it was shot by cruel yobs with an airgun.
Alan the grey heron from the Great Yarmouth waterways finally made a full recovery after being shot through the jaw and wrist joint of one wing.
It was feared he would never be able to fly again, but after months of effort from a rescue team, he was released back into the wild on Saturday.
The bird had to be flight tested before his big release after being kept in a large aviary throughout his recovery journey.
David Carr, founder of Wild Touch wildlife rescue service, said: “Alan’s release was a great success, he flew so well and did a couple of perfect flights across the water.
“In case there was any question as to how well his jaw had healed, or if captivity had made him too lazy to hunt for himself, he even managed to catch and swallow a good sized fish within minutes of being released.
“We couldn’t have asked for a better result than this, it is just unfortunate that it was necessary in the first place.”
Alan was named by nearby residents to Great Yarmouth’s historic seafront waterways in Norfolk.
He had been a familiar presence so when he disappeared from sight many feared the worse, but he later turned up injured at a nearby park on April 29.
Mr Carr was called to rescue Alan, who was found in a bad way, he added: “Alan was distressed, in shock and bleeding quite badly.”
One air pellet had gone straight through Alan’s jaw and a second had damaged the wrist joint in his wing.
So he was whisked off to the Wild Touch in Great Yarmouth, Norfolk, where he was cleaned up and given pain killers.
Alan then spent nearly three months regaining the function in his wrist joint through physiotherapy.
Grey herons are protected by law and the matter had been referred to police who are investigating.