Sparrow hawk leaves gym in a flap

YOUNG gymnasts were left stunned when a bird of prey upstaged their aerial acrobatics.

YOUNG gymnasts were left stunned when a bird of prey upstaged their aerial acrobatics.

The lightning quick sparrow hawk chased a thrush into the Ipswich Gymnastics Centre as the shocked gymnasts looked on in amazement.

On its way into the centre the impressive hawk hit a coach with one of its wings - before narrowly missing out on catching its prey.

The thrush had sought sanctuary from its chaser in the gym but once inside found itself trapped with seemingly nowhere to hide.

Members of the gym's elite class couldn't believe their eyes as their gymnastics session was completely upstaged.

Andy Wood, head coach and manager at the centre, said: “It was amazing.

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“We'd had all the doors open because it was so hot. The thrush flew in and the sparrow hawk flew in behind it.

“We looked up and there was this huge bird hovering above us. It was chasing the thrush around the gym.

“The thrush settled itself in the cladding so the sparrow hawk couldn't get it.”

The hawk, which has been nicknamed Ethan after the American actor Ethan Hawke, spent several hours watching and waiting for the moment to pounce on its prey and ended up staying in the gym, which is next to Gainsborough sports centre, overnight.

When Mr Wood returned on Tuesday morning it had made the kill and was devouring the hapless thrush from the gym's rafters.

He said: “He's had a good feed from the kill. He's been dropping bones all over the place.”

Staff took advice from the RSPB, Ipswich Borough Council and Stonham Barns Owl Sanctuary before meat was placed near the exit in an attempt to lure it out.

It spent a second night in the gym last night. Bird experts said the bird would probably decide to leave when it was hungry - but Mr Wood feared that might not be for quite a while because of its recent kill.

In the meantime the coaches faced the prospect of keeping their gymnasts' minds on the job.

Mr Wood said: “They tend to stare at the bird and not concentrate.”

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