Wiltshire

Wiltshire missing eagle owl found after 13 months

Bella Image copyright Allan Gates
Image caption Bella had been chased out of the grass and flew onto a fence post where she was safely collected

An eagle owl which flew off after being spooked by a hosepipe has been found five miles from home in Wiltshire.

Bella flew away from Mere Down Falconry on 14 May 2018.

Her owner, Allan Gates, said: "I was really concerned she would end up starving to death, but she's obviously been catching stuff and looking after herself."

She was found soaking wet, but sitting "quite happily" on a post in the garden of a house in Hill Deverill.

'Hissed a little'

Mr Gates received hundreds of calls of possible sightings, but most of them turned out to be buzzards or tawny owls.

Early on Friday a dog walker called him to say his pets chased an owl with "big, big orange eyes" out of the grass.

Bella escaped the dogs by flying up to sit on a fence post.

"Looking at her, she's got a few feathers missing on the front of her wings and around her eyes.

"I think she's got into a fight with something last night and then she's got on the ground and got water-logged and that was it - she couldn't go anywhere," said Mr Gates.

He said she only "hissed a little bit" when he arrived to collect her.

Bella has since been fed with quails and day-old chicks and is drying out.

Mr Gates has said he would micro-chip the bird in case she tries to fly off again.

She may return to her falconry displays.

"I've been stroking her chest with a gloved hand and she hasn't run away or got nasty so I'm going to play it by ear and see if I can get her back in the team and working again," said Mr Gates.

Image copyright Allan Gates
Image caption Bella had lost some weight while living in the wild

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