I’VE recorded 88 bird species for Purston, Featherstone and Nostell over the years, 89 if I’d counted the eagle owl that escaped from near The Spread Eagle at Wragby.
I’ve seen her twice near West Hardwick before dawn, noticeably large with wings as big as a heron’s, capable of taking a hare or lamb.
It escaped in November 2011, I last saw it in August so it’s coping in the wild – not surprising as its food range is slugs, voles, pigeons, hares and other birds. The gamekeeper’s seen it a few times on the roof of a bungalow next to a smallholding which has hens etc, but haven’t heard of any going missing.
Another escapee, while a lovely looking creature, would definitely be classed as an unwelcome visitor.
The mink was released by animal rights activists from a fur farm at Rothwell in the 1970s and were breeding as far away as Goole less than two years later. They have been seen in this area, I have seen one walking over the footbridge across the Went Beck towards the Illy fields and one running along the track from West Hardwick to the Priory.
I’ve also seen them at Fairburn, one swam across the main lake, 100 yards under water, 100 yards on top, then up a tree to the gull’s nest as fast as a squirrel, then head first running back down after eating the eggs and chicks. A killer with no rivals.