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WWII pigeon who saved aircrew honoured with statue
Winkie's actions helped save the lives of four RAF servicemen.
Winkie saved the lives of an aircrew stranded in the North Sea.

A new statue has been unveiled in Dundee to honour a carrier pigeon who saved the lives of four RAF servicemen in the Second World War.

Winkie helped rescuers locate the crew of a downed plane in the North Sea, for which she became one of the first recipients of the Dickin Medal.

The new bronze sculpture was unveiled on Thursday, 9 November, after a campaign by a local Cubs pack for the bird to be commemorated.

Winkie was on board an RAF bomber that was returning from a mission in Norway on 23 February 1942. Damaged by enemy fire, the plane crashed into the sea.

Like other British planes during the war, a carrier pigeon was kept on board to aid communication when radio could not be used. After the plane crashed, Winkie was sent out by the stranded crew.

Despite being covered in oil, and hampered by bad weather, she managed to fly more than 120 miles to return to her owner George Ross in the Broughty Ferry suburb of Dundee.

Ross alerted the RAF who were able to use information about weather conditions and Winkie’s flight to calculate the location of the downed plane and launch a rescue operation.

The four members of the crew were successfully rescued.

A year later, Winkie was awarded one of the first ever PDSA Dickin Medals, which had been created to honour animals serving in the armed forces.

Councillor Steven Rome said: “It is fitting that Dundee’s latest piece of public art commemorates a special Broughty Ferry heroine – Winkie the pigeon.

“The tale of her exploits has inspired new generations over the decades and I would like to thank the 49th Cubs for playing an important role in securing this statue.

“It will help to ensure that the story of Winkie will never be forgotten.

“I am also pleased that relatives of George Ross have been able to attend this poignant event to unveil the statue, which is fittingly close to Remembrance Sunday.”

Image © Dundee City Council

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Reporting service for dead wild birds updated

News Story 1
 The Animal and Plant Health Agency (APHA) has updated its online reporting service for dead wild birds.

The new version allows those reporting a dead bird to drop a pin on a map when reporting the location. It also includes a wider range of wild bird species groups to select from when describing the bird.

The online service, which helps APHA to monitor the spread of diseases such as avian influenza, can be accessed here

Click here for more...
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NI chief vet urges bluetongue vigilance

Northern Ireland's chief veterinary officer (CVO) has urged farmers to be vigilant for signs of bluetongue, after the Animal and Plant Health Agency warned there was a very high probability of further cases in Great Britain.

There have been 126 confirmed cases of bluetongue virus serotype 3 in England since November 2023, with no cases reported in Northern Ireland. The movement of live ruminants from Great Britain to Northern Ireland is currently suspended.

According to the Department of Agriculture, Environment and Rural Affairs (DAERA), the virus is most likely to enter Northern Ireland through infected animals or germplasm (semen or ova) being imported.

Brian Dooher, Northern Ireland's CVO, said: "Surveillance for this disease within Northern Ireland has been increased to assist with detection at the earliest opportunity which will facilitate more effective control measures."

Farmers should report any suspicions of the disease to their private veterinary practitioner, the DAERA Helpline on 0300 200 7840 or their local DAERA Direct Veterinary Office.