Hawk missing from Barking found perched on fence in Loxford

merlin

Merlin, a Harris's hawk, has been found after going missing from Barking. - Credit: Gary Bartlett

A hawk which went missing in Barking has been found safe and well in Loxford.

Merlin, a Harris's hawk, was found perched on a fence in Medway Close between Barking Park and Loxford Park on Saturday, August 7.

merlin

Have you seen this bird? - Credit: Gary Bartlett

Falconer Gary Bartlett said the raptor was a bit wet and feeling sorry for himself, but apart from that was "perfectly fine".

The bird of prey - which is being used to control pigeon and gull numbers - flapped away from his handler on Thursday, August 5.

He had just been sent up into the skies around Sri Guru Singh Sabha Gurdwara in North Street when he changed direction and swooped off in the direction of Northbury Primary School.


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Gary tried to lure his feathered friend back with food, but Merlin soared further off, crossing railway tracks towards Barking Park after which Gary lost sight of him.

The signal on a radio transmitter which Merlin was fitted with had also dropped out, making it even more challenging to locate him.

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Gary explained the rainy weather might have played a part in Merlin's vanishing from sight, with the bird possibly taking shelter in trees where he would have been harder to spot.

In a bid to retrieve the bird - which had never disappeared before - Gary appealed to members of the Barking and Dagenham community group on social media.

He said that hundreds of people started sharing the appeal, reporting sightings from around the borough.

It was on Saturday morning (August 7) that Gary was reunited with Merlin after being contacted by a member of the public who spotted the six-year-old hawk in neighbouring Redbridge.

"He probably fancied chasing the pigeons from there for a couple of days," Gary said.

On why Merlin went rogue, Gary explained that unfamiliar surroundings in Barking or strong winds could have spooked his hawk.

It was the first time Merlin had 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 sites in the south-east of England.

"They're birds of prey so they've got their own minds, but it's very unusual to fly off," Gary said.

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