A RARE bird of prey that escaped from Birdworld, near Farnham, was at large in the wild for several days before being recaptured in the Deadwater Valley nature reserve at Alexandra Park near Whitehill and returned safely home.

Keen wildlife photographer Richard Ford came across the striated caracara by accident when he was taking pictures of other birds in the reserve.

He initially thought it was a common buzzard, but realised that it allowed him to get much closer than a wild bird would and then spotted that it was ringed.

Richard called up the reserve ranger, asking about the bird.

“This was all news to him, so I put in a quick tentative call to Birdworld,” he said.

Birdworld confirmed it had lost a striated caracara four or five days prior named Stan which Richard, an avid bird enthusiast, was able to confirm was indeed the same species as the bird he had spotted.

By this time, Stan had amassed a small crowd of passing school children.

Richard said: “Being fearless and playfully natured, Stan posed for the mobile phone cameras and ran around on the ground. He grabbed a nearby bottle and ripped of the wrapper. Stan was quite the entertainer.”

Richard informed Birdworld of Stan’s location and dashed off, having to pick his daughter up from school. On the way back he passed by a Birdworld vehicle going the other way which he followed.

The driver was a birdkeeper, who explained to Richard that a local homeowner had managed to catch Stan by enticing him into a bin with a bit of meat.

Richard followed as the birdkeeper arrived by the bins, and removed Stan from the trap. She carefully placed him in a pet carrier to be returned home.

Duncan Bolton, curator of Birdworld, explained: “Stanley is one of our regular presentation birds. He decided to have a bit of a holiday and got himself a little lost.

“As part of his demonstrations he is trained to jump into a bin.

“We asked one of the residents if he had an empty wheelie bin handy and asked him to throw a small piece of meat into it in front of Stanley – true to his training Stanley followed the meat into the bin and the lid was closed! 

“Stanley appeared pleased to be home in his familiar surroundings and was back to his normal self in no time.”

Richard said: “My daughter and I were pleased to have been able to be a part of getting him home as well as seeing such a stunning bird of prey up close.”

See more of Richard’s pictures at www.digitalwildlife.co.uk

The striated caracara (Phalcoboenus australis) is a bird of prey, primarily a scavenger, of the family Falconidae. It breeds in several islands in Tierra del Fuego, but is more abundant in the Falklands where it is known as the Johnny rook, probably named after the Johnny penguin (gentoo penguin), one of its preys.