Cross-border sighting of missing giant sea eagle

Craven Herald: Nikita, pictured here with falconer Chris O’Donnell Nikita, pictured here with falconer Chris O’Donnell

A giant bird of prey which went missing in North Craven has been spotted over the border in Lancashire.

Nikita, a Steller’s Sea Eagle, who has a vast wing span of about eight foot, went missing on Saturday whilst being exercised by falconer Chris O’Donnell near Penyghent.

The bird is one of the largest in the world and survives largely on a diet of large fish such as salmon, as well as small animals such as rabbits and pigeons.

Mr O’Donnell, who runs the Horton-in-Ribblesdale-based Hawk Experience, said since the exceptionally large bird was reported missing, he had received phone calls from across the British Isles from people who thought they may have seen the bird.

But he says a sighting at Slaidburn, in the Trough of Bowland, Lancashire, was so far the most likely.

He was shown a photograph of what looked to be Nikita at the end of a farm drive and spent Monday, searching surrounding fields. But he was unable to spot her before darkness fell.

The exceptionally large bird cuts an unmistakable figure on the horizon.

“She won’t even be hungry yet; they can go days and days without food," he said.

"She’s quite happy and healthy, just lost. She’ll just be sitting somewhere thinking ‘I’ve taken a wrong turn here’.”

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