While surveying near Swindon I saw an owl flying through the trees, my first thought as a birder was cool, tawny owl. But as the owl got nearer I realised that this was no tawny owl! With a wing span of 8ft and piercing orange eyes this was a European eagle owl, I was later to find out this bird was a female called Jasmine.
She landed on a branch at the edge of the woodland and I crept forward to get a closer look. She kept her eyes on me and I spotted she had leather jesses round her legs. Definitely an escaped or lost bird, I called police inquiries to see if an owl had been reported missing. Luckily I was put in contact with a man called Sean, after he heard my description he was sure it sounded like his owl he had raised from an egg. She had escaped after being frighted by machinery starting up in the nearby field at their home, 6 weeks ago.
Sean raced the hour from his house to meet me on site with his falconry gear. Luckily she was still in the same position in the tree and he started to try and tempt her down with tit-bits. Unfortunately Jasmine had got a taste for freedom, quite literally and has been successfully feeding herself during her escape and was not hungry in the slightest. This didnt bode well for Sean, he had to climb about 9ft into the huge oak she was perched in and still make a final dive for her jesses to reach her! After lowering her to the ground and safely climbing down the tree, owl and happy owner were reunited. I have heard from Sean since and she is doing well and he is about to start flying her again. Hopefully she comes back after her extended break in the wild!