Bird of prey that had owner in a flap returns
A BIRD of prey that flew the coop from her Co Meath home at the beginning of the month has been reunited with her owner after being tracked to the remote Tory Island, off the Donegal coast.
The gyr-saker falcon disappeared from Karl Lawlor’s Slane falconry more than two weeks ago, out of range of his GPS system, and sparked a panicked, extensive and expensive search.
Lawlor contacted birdwatch groups and even went so far as to hire a light aircraft to conduct an aerial search of the area near his home. He had all but given up hope of finding his bird alive when he got a call on Thursday saying she had been spotted on Tory Island.
The bird spotter was Owen Clarke, a Letterkenny man who noticed a bird with a bell and a ring on its legs while on a walking holiday on the island.
He got in touch with Birdwatch Ireland, which had been made aware that the falcon was missing, and it made contact with Lawlor on Thursday evening.
Clarke attempted to catch the bird using a whistled tune taught to him over the phone by Lawlor, and he also laid some bait, which the bird turned its beak up at.
After two unsuccessful attempts to capture the falcon, Lawlor travelled more than 200km to Tory to catch her himself. Using a GPS system, he was able to locate the bird within minutes of arriving on the island.
“In the end, it was pretty easy when we got to the island because we had the GPS system and thankfully it was still working,” he said. “I can’t tell you how delighted I was when I saw her. It was just brilliant.”
Once the huge falcon was captured, Lawlor locked her in his hotel bedroom. “There was no way she was getting out of my sight again,” he laughed.
He paid tribute to the people of the island who helped him and has decided to name the female falcon Tory in their honour.