Hopes are fading fast that Walter the racing pigeon will make it home.
Walter was found in Tony and Sue McMaster’s Farmhill garden last week.
He had been racing from Skibbereen in County Cork and was due to fly back to owner Sean McLoughlin’s home in Crossgar, Count Down.
But for some reason he got blown off course and ended up in the Isle of Man.
Sue appealed for help to get him home - and the Steam Packet kindly offered to take him back to Northern Ireland where he was released on Saturday night.
Bernard McLoughlin of the Irish Homing Union has since spoken to the owner - but there has been no sign of Walter having made it back to Crossgar.
Bernard said: ‘He should have been home by now.
‘The pigeon could be have been more injured than originally thought. What I imagine happened, and the probable reason why he was in the Isle of Man in the first place, is that he fell victim to a bird of prey. He may have been attacked and got spooked.’
Bernard said he was contacted by people from all over the UK and Ireland who have found homing pigeons that have got lost.
He said: ‘Most pigeon men are glad to see them home’. Injuries can heal and the birds can race again - and even if they can’t they could be used for breeding, he added.
And he said not all was lost in Walter’s case. He said one of his own birds had flown home in May - and when he checked his records, he discovered it had set off the previous August.