A BIRD of prey rescued on the motorway has been released back into the wild.

A buzzard was grounded on the M6 in Cheshire for several hours at the end of last year after being hit by a vehicle.

Motorists spotted the female bird on the northbound carriageway near Knutsford services at about 2pm on December 14, reporting it to the Highways Agency.

Unable to find her, the RSPCA was contacted for help.

Animal rescue officer Helen Chapman was eventually able to locate and catch the bird, with one side of the motorway brought to halt at around 7.30pm.

It is believed the bird had been clipped by a vehicle.

Helen said: “The buzzard may have been scavenging on road kill when she was clipped and she was fortunate not to be injured or even killed as she was next to the central reservation for quite a few hours.

“I used a pole and a net to catch her - I didn’t want to get too close in case I panicked her and she tried to fly over the wall and into traffic on the other side. 

“It’s probably only the third time in my career that police have closed a motorway for me and that was to rescue a swan and a deer. Nevertheless, we’re extremely grateful they did and to the Highways Agency for alerting us and providing assistance.”

Knutsford Guardian: The M6 was brought to a halt to rescue the birdThe M6 was brought to a halt to rescue the bird (Image: RSPCA)

The bird spent the following five weeks in the care of Wild Wings Bird of Prey, a specialist rescue and conservation centre at Risley in Warrington, where she was placed in a rehabilitation pen with another buzzard.

On Friday, January 19, she was finally released back into the wild.

Carole Rose, Director of Wild Wings Birds of Prey, said: “We were pleased to be able to help and we’d like to thank everyone who was involved in the rescue and to Helen for bringing the buzzard to us.”  

Helen added: “Wild Wings Bird of Prey were initially a bit concerned about her sight, but thankfully she was given the all-clear.

“Our thanks go to them, they did an amazing job, and it was wonderful to be able to re-release such a beautiful bird and see her fly off happily.”

Watch a video of the release below: