Far from home hawk puts down roots in Suffolk

TRIMLEY: It would be more at home sweeping across the wild prairies of Texas hunting for prey.

But instead, one of the world’s most striking hawks has been seen swooping over the tamed wheat fields of Suffolk looking for its dinner.

The Harris hawk – which has a wingspan of nearly four feet – was spotted in Trimley St Mary and is believed to have escaped from a private falconry collection.

It was seen just off Trimley High Road sitting in a tree.

“A couple of mates and I were walking from Felixstowe to Trimley taking photos of the countryside – we walked through the back roads past the horse stables where we came to the end and on to Station Road,” said Xristos Miaoulis, 28, of Gainsborough Road, Felixstowe.

“I looked up and saw huge talons attached to a massive bird sitting on top of a tree. I was quite shocked.

“By the time I could get my camera ready it started to fly – and it was so powerful. I had only seconds to take a photo.”

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Mr Miaoulis, who works at the Co-op supermarket in Hamilton Road, said when he got home his brother Andreas helped him find out what type of bird it was and they were amazed to discover it was a Harris hawk.

Warden at Trimley nature reserve, Mick Wright confirmed that a Harris hawk had been seen flying in the area late winter and early spring.

Ian Barthorpe, RSPB marketing and publicity officer for the Suffolk coast, said it was unusual to see a Harris hawk but not extremely rare.

“They are one of the most widely kept falconry birds in Britain and there are frequent reports of escapes and people then seeing them flying in the countryside,” he said.

“Sometimes they fly round for a day or two and are then caught but sometimes they are on the wing for longer periods.

“Even though they would more usually be seen flying across Texas, I have seen them myself in Britain. The one in Trimley is probably an escapee.”

A Harris hawk was recently brought in to Beccles to scare away a flock of nesting gulls that had been tormenting residents – but was given his marching orders and was replaced by a larger and more fearsome sea hawk.

? Have you seen any unusual wildlife in Suffolk? Write to Your Letters, Evening Star, 30 Lower Brook Street, Ipswich IP4 1AN, or e-mail eveningstarletters@eveningstar.co.uk