Bird of prey gives rescuers a good work out!

A bird of prey gave rescuers a good workout at a sports centre in Eastbourne tonight (Friday 19th September).  The sparrowhawk flew inside the large sports hall at Eastbourne Sports Park off Cross Levels Way Eastbourne on Thursday 18th September after chasing a starling inside. Staff at the sports hall left doors open but the hawk was not leaving so they called out volunteer rescuers from East Sussex Wildlife Rescue & Ambulance Service (WRAS) for help. Thursday night rescuers had to wait for the evenings sports activities to finish before they could start their rescue mission which kept the rescuers busy till midnight where the mission was put on hold till the following night.

Captured Sparrowhawk
Captured Sparrowhawk

Friday night rescuers Trevor Weeks MBE, his partner Kathy Martyn, and fellow rescuers Tony Neads, Kai Ahmed and Chris Riddington attended on site at 9.30pm and set about trying to catch the bird. “Sparrowhawks don’t like flying in the dark so generally we try to turn out the lights whilst they are flying forcing them to flutter to a lower level where there can then be caught. However, these large halls can be very problematic as there are numerous beams close together meaning there are always perches close by, and working with such heights can be difficult too. The lights are often not straight forwards and can’t always be switched completely on and off or not turned off quickly enough.

This hall was no exception and we had to figure out how best to proceed” explained Trevor Weeks MBE founder of WRAS. After a number of attempts to catch the bird, the rescuers used extending poles strapped together, night visions goggles, and a spot light to catch the hawk. “On the last attempt, we managed to get the hall in complete darkness just with one small beam of light, this allowed Trevor to disturb the bird and force it to fly. It flew around slightly before amazingly landing and perching on top of the net head. So slowly Trevor lowered the net to the ground, where rescuer managed to catch the sparrowhawk. I was just about to grab hold of the bird when it attempted to fly but flew straight into one of the sports nets. Kathy and I quickly managed to gain control of the bird and the lights were then switched back on and the bird was secured” described rescuer Chris Riddington.

Rescuer Chris with the Hawk
Rescuer Chris with the Hawk

“Both Chris and I had punctures to our hands where the hawk dug it’s talons into our hands as we caught it” said rescuer Kathy Martyn ”we took the bird back to our Casualty Centre at Whitesmith where it was bedded down for the night, as they don’t like flying in the dark.” Rescuers took the sparrowhawk out for release Saturday morning where he was released back within his home range close to the Sports Park.

“We often get called to halls, warehouses and supermarkets to try and rescue birds caught inside and sadly we are not always successful, this was an extremely lucky bird and he certainly gave us a good work out!” said Trevor.

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Press Contact: Trevor Weeks – East Sussex WRAS -01825-873003 or 07931523958

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2 thoughts on “Bird of prey gives rescuers a good work out!

  1. Brian Streeter

    Hullo Trevor. We have been seeing a bird of prey perching on the fence along Cross Levels Way. Have you seen and if so do you agree that it is an Osprey? We've seen it now for about a month. At least ten sightings.
    Cheers, Brian

    1. East Sussex WRAS

      Post author

      We are getting a lot of reports of these birds, they are Buzzards. There are a pair of them which regularly hunt along Cross Levels Way.


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