EVEN Tweetie Pie would have struggled to survive this narrow brush with death.
An innocent sunbathing session on Portobello beach almost ended in disaster for one tiny duckling when he was cruelly snatched by a mean seagull.
Soaring into the sky, the greedy bird took his feathered victim on a gruelling journey before releasing him from his grasp – into a pack of dogs at a rescue kennel.
The duckling – just days old – was saved from death by the quick-thinking actions of kennel manager Wendy Mullen, who leapt to his defence as a Jack Russell was seconds away from pouncing on the bewildered baby.
Ms Mullen said: “I was just going to bring the dog back into his indoor pen and he dived to go behind the door. I didn’t know what he was trying to get – I thought it might be a toy or a treat.
“I pulled the door back and saw this little duckling and quickly grabbed Wee Joe, the Jack Russell, before he got to it.
“I scooped the wee thing up and came into the office. The dog was really excited, but we got to him thankfully just in time.”
The shaken eider duckling – nicknamed “Lucky the Ducky” by staff – was swept to safety and put in a small carry cage at the Edinburgh Dog and Cat Home, in Seafield Road.
The infant was then fed water and allowed to calm down before being collected half an hour later by officers from the Scottish SPCA on Wednesday.
Ms Mullen said: “It was a tiny baby. It couldn’t fly yet and fitted in the palm of my hand.
“It was absolutely fine. It was noisy and obviously getting a little bit upset and missing its mum, but there were no outward injuries.
“It had to have been dropped by something like a seagull because there’s no way otherwise – it couldn’t have walked or flown in.
“We’ve never had anything like that dropped here. Often seagulls drop something they’ve pinched off the beach like mussels or starfish, but never anything like that, thankfully. We often get the public handing in injured birds they’ve found on the beach, but this is a first.”
Ms Mullen laughed off suggestions that her efforts had been heroic.
The fortunate bird is now recovering at the Scottish SPCA’s National Wildlife Centre in Fishcross ahead of a planned release back into the wild.
Lucky is far from the only displaced animal housed by the Scottish SPCA, with rescue centres across the country caring for 13,327 animals last year.
But animal rescue officer Steph Grant said the duckling had been particularly fortunate, having needed “nine lives” to escape unscathed.
She said: “We’ll care for him until he’s old enough to fend for himself and then we’ll release him into the wild at a much safer spot.”
If you find an injured or distressed animal, please call the Scottish SPCA on 03000 999 999.