Escaped giant eagle owl spotted at large in Norfolk village

A giant eagle owl has stunned villagers in Ormesby St Margaret, Norfolk

This stunning shot of a Eurasian eagle owl was captured by Tony Bushkes in Ormesby on Christmas Day. Since then residents have gone out of their way to catch a glimpse of the bird of prey, likely to have escaped from captivity. - Credit: Tony Bushkes

One of the world's largest owls has been regularly spotted by residents in a Norfolk village.

The bird of prey, a Eurasian eagle owl, has been snapped regularly in Ormesby St Margaret where locals have been seen wandering wooded areas, their eyes trained to tree tops in the hope of catching a glimpse.

Villagers say the bird has been in the area for at least a month and that they are becoming attached to their new feathered friend who roosts in trees during the day.

Apparently unruffled by the attention, experts say the bird has most likely escaped from captivity, either a zoo or a collection, and will fare well in the wild providing it has enough food.

The birds have a wing span of up to six feet and large talons.

According to The Peregrine Fund, which works to conserve birds of prey worldwide, they are not fussy eaters and will dine on small mammals such as voles, rats, and rabbits, but also hunt woodpeckers, herons, and other birds, including other raptors.

They also prey on amphibians, reptiles, fish, and insects.

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There have been warnings that family pets could be at risk.

Among those fascinated by the new resident is Tony Bushkes, who has taken a series of shots of the striking bird.

He said: "On Christmas morning while taking my daily stroll through woodland in and around Ormesby, I spotted this eagle owl.

"Fortunately, I had my camera with me and was able to capture it.

"Fumbling with the controls due to excitement didn't seem to worry him.

"As this is not a native species, I assume that it has escaped from a sanctuary.

"It was spotted by various folk over the last five weeks, so hopefully he will take up permanent residence."

The species is usually found in Asia and mainland Europe and is one of the world's largest, distinguished by its bright orange eyes and ear tufts.

There have been reports of breeding pairs in other parts of the country triggering debate about whether they came from the continent or had both escaped and found each other in the countryside.

A spokesman for the RSPB said: "The Eurasian eagle owl that has been sighted is most likely an escaped bird from a private/falconry collection and so not a rare wild bird sighting."