AS she watched the magnificent female white-bellied sea eagle that had been in her care for the past 16-months fly away Peggy McDonald smiled.
The striking eagle, affectionately known as Essie, was released at Bendalong recently and was a bird in a hurry.
"She just bolted out of the box and I did not even get the chance to take a photo of her and she headed in a northerly direction," Peggy said.
Peggy, despite what they all had been through, was not sad to see Essie go.
"I am happy to see her in the wild because that is where she belongs," Peggy said.
Essie, 16-months ago, was in poor shape after being hit by a car and then deliberately run over again.
The injuries she suffered were massive.
Essie suffered several fractures, spinal injuries, head concussion and internal injuries.
Peggy, at her base in the Southern Highlands, needed all her 30-years experience as a raptor carer to nurse Essie back to health.
The raptor carer said it was a pleasure to care for Essie.
"She was an excellent patient," Peggy said.
"She would have been frightened about this strange thing that was happening to her.
"However, she accepted the care with dignity and grace."
After she watched Essie build up her strength in a free flight aviary for the past six months, Peggy knew it was time to say goodbye.
It's the breeding season and Peggy hopes the Essie, who could be around five-years-of-age, has found her old mate or got a new one.
Peggy, who has nursed many birds back to health, never gets sick of the experience.
"Releasing Essie was definitely a win," she said.
Essie could still be flying around the Bendalong.
Peggy could not put a tracking device on Essie and does not know where she is.
Essie does have some noticeable features.
"She still has some feathers to moult and re-grow which are quite obvious," Peggy said.
"If you spot her I would love to know what she is up to and see any images you may take.
"If she comes in needing care for any reason call me on 0484 195 888 or message me on Facebook."
People can also call Wildlife Rescue South Coast on 0418 427 214 which is a 24/7 hotline for all injured wildlife matters