SLIDING serenely across the water, or waddling happily along grassy banks.

Such behaviour may not seem so unusual for a swan, before you consider this particular bird was savagely shot in the head and neck with a crossbow three weeks ago.

It was released into the wild by the RSPCA on Tuesday, in the canal at Spike Island, Widnes.

The male swan made a ‘miraculous recovery’ following the attack in the canal at Fiddlers Ferry in Warrington.

Prior to release, it was cared for at the RSPCA’s Stapeley Grange wildlife hospital in Nantwich.

Resident vet Beverley Panto said: ““It’s quite incredible he’s still with us today really.

“He’s doing fantastically well out here and socialising really well.

“He’s walking brilliantly and on the water fine.

“He’s been released in an area called Spike Island, so hopefully there’ll be no people with crossbows around there.”

The crossbow bolts were removed in an emergency operation by at Village Vets in Liverpool, when a valve was inserted into the bird’s side to allow it to breathe.

One bolt was embedded in his skull, the other through his trachea.

The seriousness of the injuries meant no one expected the swan to recover.

Runcorn and Widnes World: Swan found with crossbow bolts through neck near Fiddlers Ferry

However, After being transferred to the RSPCA, the swan has been nurtured back to full health.

Beverley said it was ‘touch and go’ whether the bird would survive.

She added: “When he was brought in...he was in a lot of pain and distress, and struggling to breathe.

“He was breathing through a tube in his side, so it could bypass its injuries and its windpipe, so we had to manage that and make sure it was clean.

“It was really touch and go at the start, we really weren’t sure whether he was going to make it but there were a few worrying times where things didn’t look so good.

“He was losing weight and we were worried about infection, but he seemed to rally, and pull through.”