A bird of prey got into a flap when it inadvertently flew into a leisure centre in South Tyneside.
The young sparrowhawk – nicknamed Jack - spent three days in the sports hall at Monkton Stadium, in Jarrow, observing various fitness activities before it was successfully released back into the wild.
Teams from across South Tyneside Council and external partners were on a wing and prayer as they set out to try and entice the bird from the rafters. This involved dragging soft toys along the floor in the hope that the sparrowhawk would think it was live prey. A falconer with a Harris Hawk was also brought in in the hope of frightening the sparrowhawk to make a bid for freedom.
Rescuers even resorted to playing sparrowhawk noises and calls of small birds on their mobile phones to lure it outside of the Dene Terrace centre. However, although it reacted to the sounds, it refused to come down, choosing instead to fly through small gaps over pipes and beams at ceiling level as though to practise its skills, rather than take the easy option and fly in the open spaces beneath the clutter.
Eventually paper was hung from the ceiling to encourage the bird to fly lower down where it was caught in a net. It then flew out of the door into nearby woodland.
Coun Moira Smith, lead member for area management and community safety, said: “Our staff and everyone involved in this rescue mission are to be commended.
“This incident shows how, by working together, we were able to save this beautiful creature and put it back in its rightful place in the wild.
“He seems to have caused quite a stir at Monkton as I gather many of the centre’s customers have been asking about him.”