Rare Arctic owl hitches ride on ship

PUBLISHED: 11:30 26 October 2001 | UPDATED: 10:45 03 March 2010

THE remarkable story of how a brave young owl hitched a lift for thousands of miles from Canada to Suffolk, can be revealed by The Evening Star today.

THE remarkable story of how a brave young owl hitched a lift for thousands of miles from Canada to Suffolk, can be revealed by The Evening Star today.

An intrepid and rare feathered friend has seemingly settled on our region's coastline after the most

unprecedented transatlantic voyage.

Earlier this week, the bustling Felixstowe Port

witnessed the most unlikely British import it has seen in some time. It unwittingly granted a surrogate home to a rare, beautiful and extraordinary arrival – a weary snowy owl.

By the late hours of Wednesday evening, bird

watchers from all over the UK had begun their journey to our easterly port, desperate to catch a glimpse of this remarkable treasure.

The young snowy had been spotted on the roof of a home near the port and moments later a "Twitcher's

network" was helping to alert hundreds of excited


Snowy's arrival is something of an event for Suffolk – and for the whole of Europe – given that this feathered friend is most likely seen in Arctic conditions.

In fact, this particular brave adventurer is thought to have hitched himself a lift on a transatlantic crossing all the way from Quebec in Canada.

"We don't know exactly how the owl got here, but the port was inundated with twitchers yesterday, and they were all speculating about his journey," said port spokeswoman Debbie Coe.

"We understand that a group of owls were caught up in a storm and sought refuge on a ship sailing from Quebec.

"It seems that some of them may have stayed on board, and then we presume that this snowy owl found its way to Felixstowe as the ship got nearer to its destination."

And Felixstowe's feathered adventurer may not have been the only one to find a new home. Others have apparently been seen in Belgium and the Netherlands in the last 24 hours.

"It's been very exciting down at the port ever since it was spotted," Ms Coe added.

"Lots of twitchers have been here, and we've been tracking it on the security cameras around the Landguard Terminal.

"It seems to have disappeared now, but we hope it has found some more natural habitat."

Since the Wednesday discovery, snowy has attracted bird enthusiasts, experts, RSPB and RSPCA personnel to the Felixstowe port.

"We need to check that this owl is fit and healthy because we understand that it has some oil on its feathers," said RSPB spokesman, Andrew South.

"As soon as the experts have established that, we can begin to work out what will happen to him next."

Mr South agreed that the arrival of the owl had been incredibly unusual.

"This is a very rare discovery, and although snowys have been known to breed in Scotland, they are hardly ever seen here.''

He added: "Ten years ago we had one turn up in Lincolnshire and that was thought to be an escapee from a private collection.

"This is really a very rare and special event for Suffolk.

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