Bird of prey goes AWOL from display returning six days later
A local falconry display team endured a frantic week-long wait to trace a missing bird of prey who had gone on a 20-mile adventure.
Lanner falcon Leo flew away from his handlers during Hawks of Steele’s display at the Kings’ Park family fun day on July 30.
The family-run business feared the worst when the last transmission from a tracking device fitted to his back gave his location as close to the railway line, before the signal went dead.
“We were so worried that he’d been hit by a train,” said handler Trish Steele.
But six days later, Leo’s owners were shocked when a national bird registration service contacted them to say that the runaway raptor had been found in Shirebrook, over 17 miles from Retford.
The distinctive bird had been found by a member of the public with his tracker missing and was identified by a numbered ring on his leg.
He was swiftly collected by his falconers, who had feared the tame hawk would be unable to survive for long in the wild.
“There’s a bit of a mystery really as it seems the little backpack with his tracking device in has been removed, so we think at some point someone may have tried to catch and keep him. But we’re so happy he’s been found and we feel really lucky,” said Trish.
Although Leo and other display hawks would struggle to feed themselves without their handlers, the intrepid falcon was none the worse for his experience and had maintained a healthy body weight during his wilderness adventure.
“He wasn’t underweight and he seemed none the worse for his ordeal really. We went to collect him straight away and he seems fine.”
Leo resumed his display duties just four days after he returned home, when he appeared as part of Hawks of Steele’s show at the Robin Hood Festival at Sherwood Forest.
“He flies free every day so he is used to it - although last week he was more free than we would have liked! We can’t really restrict his flying after this, but we were nervous before the display and praying for him to behave!” added Trish.