A RARE bird of prey has been nursed back to health after being hit by shotgun fire.

The bird was an adult female marsh harrier and was taken to Jean Thorpe, a conservationist from Norton, after it was found near Sledmere in September.

“I could tell it had something wrong with the wing,” she said. “So we went straight to the vets. The bird was X-rayed on the day.”

The X-ray revealed a shotgun pellet and broken wing.

Ms Thorpe said: “I had to take it back the second day – the wing near the break was very swollen, so we knew it had been shot on the day it came to me.”

She confined the bird for a fortnight to allow the wing to mend.

“The vet had another look, and three weeks after that it was tagged and released at Wheldrake,” she added.

The birds come under Wildlife and Countryside Act 1981.

PC Jez Walmsley, Wildlife Crime Officer for Ryedale, said: "All of the residents of Ryedale should be proud to share our environment with such magnificent birds of prey, and we should all strive to protect them."

Police are appealing for anyone who has any information about the incident. Phone 101, select option two and ask for PC Jeremy Walmsley or email jeremy.walmsley@northyorkshire.pnn.police.uk. Please quote reference number 12160164830.