It’s a tale of derring-doo – and one man’s gargantuan effort to reunite a wayward pigeon with its far-off owner.
And the quest to transport the bird hundreds of miles to the south has led to help from a string of people, including the RSPB, ferry crews and an Aberdeenshire businessman.
The determined reunification attempt has been spearheaded by isles man Steven Jamieson, who set off on a wing and a prayer after a puffed-out pigeon appeared without warning in his hen-run.
It turned out the lost bird had flown all the way from Thurso, after taking a wrong turn in the Caithness town.
Instead of heading south to her home in Gloucestershire, the hen pigeon – which Mr Jamieson has affectionately named Patricia – turned north and landed tired and bedraggled at Mr Jamieson’s Sandwick home.
Since then the 48 year-old marine pilot has been nursing Patricia back to health. But this week he wished a fond farewell to his feathered friend and sent her on a southbound trip that involved local RSPB manager Helen Moncrieff, NorthLink Ferries and an Aberdeenshire-based horse transportation company, which offered to take Patricia back to her home coop.
Patricia should be reunited with her grateful owner this weekend. Eighty-two year-old John Wheeler lives in the far-off village of Hucclecote – over 700 miles away.
Mr Jamieson said his suspicions that he may have had more than just an ordinary pigeon on his hands arose when Patricia appeared reluctant to leave.
“It was in our hen run and the hens were making a commotion,” he said.
“It was just a rag of bones. It had been released in Thurso.”
Further inspections revealed a ring on one of Patricia’s legs, and a white marking on the other.
That led to an online trawl that uncovered a useful website which helped put Mr Jamieson in touch with Patricia’s rightful owner.
* See this Friday’s Shetland Times for full story.