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‘People were brilliant’ - Fugitive falcon spotted on coast finally reunited with owner

PUBLISHED: 15:19 16 March 2020 | UPDATED: 15:19 16 March 2020

Khayli, a falcon that embarked on a six-week, 300-mile journey across the UK, spotted at Wroughton Infant School in Gorleston. Picture: Gail Yaxley.

Khayli, a falcon that embarked on a six-week, 300-mile journey across the UK, spotted at Wroughton Infant School in Gorleston. Picture: Gail Yaxley.

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A woman who lost her falcon after it embarked on a six-week journey of more than 300 miles has praised the people of Great Yarmouth and Gorleston who helped her search for the bird.

Stewart Ashton, 48, from Gorleston, keeps birds of prey. Picture: Courtesy of Stewart Ashton.Stewart Ashton, 48, from Gorleston, keeps birds of prey. Picture: Courtesy of Stewart Ashton.

Debbie Shaw, from Brighton, was flying the bird of prey, a five-year-old named Khayri, on Valentine’s Day when it unexpectedly shot off and failed to return.

Mrs Shaw quickly got into her car and chased the bird - a tracking device attached to the falcon showed his progress, northbound across the country to the M25, but at that point the tracker’s battery failed and Khayri dropped off the map.

“Everything went quiet all of a sudden,” Mrs Shaw said.

But on February 28 a picture of the falcon appeared on social media - it was now in Great Yarmouth.

And Stewart Ashton, 48, who lives in Gorleston and keeps birds of prey, got a phonecall from Wroughton Infant School, saying there was a falcon roosting on the grounds.

By the time he got to the school the bird was gone but the next day Khayri was spotted perched on a rubbish bin on Great Yarmouth’s seafront.

Mrs Shaw drove up to Yarmouth and with Mr Ashton spent three days looking for the falcon.

“I went to all the schools and spoke to various teachers and grounds staff, dustbin collectors and postmen, because they were out early,” Mrs Shaw said. “If anyone was going to spot a strange bird in the area it would be them.”

But the falcon proved elusive - every time they arrived at a place the bird had been spotted he had already taken off again.

“People were brilliant though, watching and reporting sightings, I was really impressed with the active response,” Mrs Shaw said.

She drove empty-handed back to Brighton.

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“After four weeks you start thinking you might not get him back so hope had started to diminish considerably,” she said.

But last Thursday (March 12) another post appeared on social media, this one indicating Khayri had flown 180 miles up the coast to Redcar, a town in the northeast where he had been spotted outside a Spar, sitting on a pigeon.

“I couldn’t believe it,” Mrs Shaw said.

She was finally reunited with her bird the following day.

Mr Ashton said: “A lot of praise has to go to the people of Gorleston. We had a thousand pairs of eyes looking for that bird.”


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