Lucky Escape

Last week was an interesting week for us at The Suffolk Owl Sanctuary, when we made the front page of the local newspaper, "The Ipswich Evening Star".

Occasion was all down to a Kestrel who had made a slight error of judgment and got somewhat lost inside a local B&Q Superstore!

Superstores are deceptively tricky places - vast cavernous spaces, with isle upon isle of products that at first glance all look relatively similar, catering for every consumer need - but if, like me, finding your way back to the checkouts can prove tricky, imagine how little Kestrel felt!

It all started when in the middle of the week we recieved a phone call from two B&Q employee, Denise Kerrigan & Dean Swarbick, alerting us to the plight of the bird.  In an ideal world we would love to give immediate assistance, but we have found through experience that chasing a bird around huge warehouse-type building can prove very time consuming business and unproductive - the sheer scale of the building means that it is virtually impossible to safely retrieve the bird: height is a threat to human safety and chasing a bird in such a large space would ultimately exhaust and distress bird to the point where its life would also be endangered..

Our usual advice in situations like this is to simply leave the warehouse doors open for as long as possible,allowing the bird to exit the building in much the same way as it flew in, action is usually prompted by hunger.

But things don't always go according to plan and then human intervention does become necessary!

On this occasion the kestrel had made its way from the interior of the warehouse to the vast glass front of the store, where it was no doubt frustrated by the invisible barrier preventing it escape to the world beyond. This state of affairs persisted for two days during which time the bird would not have eaten. As this was a wild bird, this gave no initial cause for alarm, for In the wild a raptor's bodily system is designed for the odd occasion when a day's hunting fails to provide a meal.

At this point the store the staff decided to take action and with the aid of a pond net , some long copper tubing and a few long ladders - commodities which, being within a B&Q store, were readily top hand - the staff were able to safely catch up the bird and bring it to us!

We discovered that the handsome male kestrel was in very good health, if somewhat hungry.  After providing food, we kept the in our hospital overnight as a precaution that he would be well enough to survive in the wild upon release. This being the case, the following day we took him back to B&Q, where Denise & Dean had the privilege of releasing "Lucky", as he had been named by the B&Q staff - across the open fields behind the store, an area which (very importantly) the bird would recognize and be familiar with as it likely usual hunting grounds.

Denise admits this was a "once in a lifetime" moment for Denise and one that she will never forget!  For us, releases like these really are one of the best parts of the job here at SOS!