Falconer appeals for help to find missing hawk Merlin


Have you seen this bird? - Credit: Gary Bartlett

UPDATE: Merlin the hawk has now been found - https://www.barkinganddagenhampost.co.uk/news/missing-hawk-merlin-found-8219816

A falconer has appealed for help after his bird of prey flew away while he should have been hunting pigeons in Barking.

Merlin, a six-year-old Harris's Hawk, had just been sent up into the skies around Sri Guru Singh Sabha Gurdwara in North Street yesterday (August 5) when he changed direction and swooped off towards Northbury Primary School.


Merlin was last seen by his handler flying off in the direction of Barking Park. - Credit: Gary Bartlett

Falconer Gary Bartlett kept a watchful eye on the rogue raptor for two hours, attempting to lure Merlin back with food.

But the hawk was having none of it, gliding further off across the railway lines towards Fanshawe Avenue and Barking Park.

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Gary believes his feathered friend may have been spooked by the wind, prompting him to bolt.

It's the first time Merlin has failed to return to his Kent-based handlers who keep four Harris's Hawks as well as a peregrine falcon to control pigeon and gull numbers at various sites in the south-east of England.

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"They're birds of prey so they've got their own minds, but it's very unusual to fly off like this. They do fly off, but normally they sit on someone's roof and we go and get them. But he's disappeared," Gary explained.

Merlin has a radio transmitter fitted, but the signal has dropped out, meaning Gary is unable to trace his movements.

However, Gary believes the hawk won't have roamed too far from the Gurdwara and, with the sunnier afternoon weather, could emerge from sheltering from the recent rain in a tree.

One thing which isn't a concern is whether or not Merlin will go hungry.

"He's more than capable of looking after himself. But he hasn't been to this area much. It's difficult to tell, but I would say he is more than likely to still be local," Gary said.

He stressed Merlin poses no risk to the public, but urged anyone who spots the feathery fugitive not to pick him up.

"If frightened, he could try and lash out," Gary said.

Anyone who has seen Merlin, please call Gary on 07720 892704.

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