A DUCKNAPPED prize drake has turned up safe and sound – only to be trapped by mating ospreys.
The mandarin drake, called Hamish McDuck, was snatched from outside his home over two weeks ago.
Hamish’s mate, Morag McDuck, died three days later from what the couple’s owner described as a “broken heart”.
Hamish has now turned up on the Loch of the Lowes near Dunkeld, Perth and Kinross, just 20 minutes’ drive from his home near Pitlochry.
But owner Suzi Anderson can’t get her beloved pet back because a pair of ospreys recently set up home on the loch and rangers won’t let anyone near.
Unless Hamish voluntarily leaves the loch, it could be the autumn or even later before Suzi and her feathery friend are reunited.
The bird disappeared on March 11 after a van was spotted pulling up outside its home. Hamish could not have flown away because he has a clipped wing.
Suzi, 52, was devastated by the theft and posted a picture of Hamish online, urging anyone with information to get in touch.
Hamish was found by a complete happy accident after photographer Nigel Wedge took a picture of a mandarin drake at the Loch of the Lowes on Friday. He posted the picture online with the words: “Well I never, my first mandarin duck.”
Suzi was tagged in one of the pictures by a social media user who had seen the publicity surrounding Hamish and suspected he had been found.
But the animal lover’s joy turned to frustration the next day when she travelled the eight miles from her home to the loch to identify and claim her pet.
Suzi said: “There are two Ospreys at the reserve now, and it’s making it even harder for me to get Hamish.
“I’m very frustrated. I just want my laddie home.”
She said: “The rangers at the reserve won’t let me take him home until he goes to the feeding station area.
“I went there three times on Saturday but he didn’t come to the feeding station. He might be scared.”
When Hamish was first taken, Suzi posted a heartfelt message urging for his return.
It read: “Someone stop outside my house today and stole my wee Mandarin drake Hamish McDuck.
“If the person who took him reads this please can you return his his wee wife Morag McDuck is missing him greatly.
“They pair up for life and he is a very special wee duck , if you don’t return him please take great care of him , he loves a shower a couple of times a week and is very friendly.
“Please return him.”
In less than 24 hours after Hamish was stolen, well wishers pledged £200 as a reward for the safe return of the much loved duck.
Suzi has buried Morag in the back garden along with a headstone which read: “Rest in Peace: Morag McDuck, wife of Hamish McDuck”.
A spokeswoman for the Scottish Wildlife Trust, who run the osprey breeding programme at Loch of the Lowes, said: “Hamish was seen on Saturday, but hasn’t been seen since. He might be hiding somewhere.
“It’s breeding season, and as the Ospreys are at a crucial stage of nesting and bonding, our hands are tied when it comes to letting people into the reserve. Even the rangers aren’t allowed to go in.
“Suzi is welcome to come to the visitor and feeding areas, but the loch edge is a restricted area.
“Hamish has plenty of food, so hopefully he will come up to the feeding station soon and Suzi can see him.”