FOR A few stolen days, she was as free as a bird.
But after six days on the fly, Edinburgh Zoo escapee, Cherry the scarlet ibis, was finally caught by keepers at the weekend.
The bright red tropical bird was captured at what had become one of its favourite haunts – Cramond – after failing to resist the temptation of mussels, mealworms and prawns, which had been left in a trap.
Russell Lavin, 33, a postman from Milton Bridge in Midlothian, was out for a walk on Sunday afternoon when he saw a pair of zookeepers attempting to recapture the cheeky two-year-old bird, who arrived at the zoo in 2010.
“The ibis must have been pretty hungry because she did go for the food, but it must have been quite tense for the keepers as it took a good ten minutes for it to be captured,” he said.
“There was a bit of a crowd – maybe about 20 people – watching the zookeepers, they just stopped and stared.
“A fair few dogs looked really interested, too.”
Cherry found her way out of the zoo after a squirrel chewed through part of her enclosure.
The next few days saw her set up camp in Dundas Street, Port Seton and Leith, thwarting several attempts by zookeepers to recapture her.
Although Cherry appears to be in fine feather, she will be kept in quarantine for the next few days before she is reunited with the six other members of her flock and 36 resident flamingos with whom she shares her enclosure.
Team leader of the zoo’s bird section, Colin Oulton, said: “It’s really quite surprising how far the scarlet ibis flew, eventually ending up at the shore at Cramond.
“Being flock birds, you would expect them to stay quite close to the rest of the flock.
“We always knew that it wouldn’t be a straightforward or easy task to recapture her, and that it would take a little time and patience. Luckily, it paid off, as we were able to do just that after a few attempts to encourage her towards a carry box with some mussels and prawns. The bird has been quite relaxed about the whole thing, choosing to stay in the Cramond area probably as it is quite close to the seashore.
“The ibis will have been able to go down onto the mudflats and most likely catch food for herself.
“I would definitely say that she has a curious nature and I’m sure she has a great story to tell the rest of the scarlet ibis flock when she returns to them later this week.”