Man attacked by hawk while out on bike ride with grandson

A grandad today warned cyclists to be wary of hunting birds after he was attacked by a hawk and left needing stitches while out on a ride with his young grandson.

Saturday, 19th May 2018, 9:00 am
Andrew Emmerson, of Seaham, says he was attacked by a hawk while on a cycle path with his grandson on Monday. He has had to have stitches on his face and is warning others about birds being in the area. Picture by Tom Banks

Andrew Emmerson was on the Seaham to Ryhope cycle path, near Seaham Industrial Estate, on Monday evening with his seven-year-old grandson Thomas, when the bird struck.

Flying out of a nearby tree, the animal latched on to the design engineer’s face, leaving him bleeding.

Andrew Emmerson, of Seaham, says he was attacked by a hawk while on a cycle path with his grandson on Monday. He has had to have stitches on his face and is warning others about birds being in the area. Picture by Tom Banks

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The 51, year-old has since had to have stitches in his mouth and cheek following the incident, which he has reported to Durham Police.

Officers have since referred the matter to the Royal Society for the Protection of Birds.

Andrew, who is married to Velda, 48, with who he has daughter Jordan, 27, said: “We were out on a ride and I said two lads wearing camouflage clothes looking in a tree.

“A bird was flapping then after I got 10 metres past them, it came flying out of the tree.

Andrew Emmerson, of Seaham, says he was attacked by a hawk while on a cycle path with his grandson on Monday. He has had to have stitches on his face and is warning others about birds being in the area. Picture by Tom Banks

“It hit me and its claws latched on to my face.

“It was like being punched in the face, I didn’t know what was going on.

“I was shouting for it to get off but it had another claw in my mouth, on the back of my top lip.

“I’ve had to have five stitches in my mouth and six on my cheek just below my eye.

Andrew Emmerson, of Seaham, says he was attacked by a hawk while on a cycle path with his grandson on Monday. He has had to have stitches on his face and is warning others about birds being in the area. Picture by Tom Banks

“But I’m just glad that my grandson is fine because it doesn’t bear thinking about what could have happened to him.

“He was riding his own bike a little bit ahead of me, but if he wasn’t he might been hurt himself.”

Andrew, of Seaham, added that he spoke to the men with the hawks after the incident and called on people using hunting birds to do so away from public places.

“One of them gave me his shirt to help the bleeding,” he said.

“They told me they had two hawks and were using them catch rabbits but I don’t even know if they should be doing that in a public area.

“It’s very dangerous so I just want people to be aware that this type of thing can go on when they are out for a ride.

“My injuries aren’t as bad as I expected them to be when it first happened but it was still a horrible experience.”

A spokeswoman for Durham Police said: “We received a call shortly after 7.30pm on Monday reporting a hawk attack which had taken place on the cycle path at Seaham Industrial Estate.

“One of the two hawks, which were being used for hunting purposes latched onto a cyclist and caused cuts to the victim’s face.

“The incident has been referred to The Royal Society for the Protection of Birds for advice.”