A sparrowhawk became trapped inside a church in Tenterden this morning after chasing a pigeon inside for lunch.
Chris Brown was in the process of opening the church for a funeral this morning when the sparrowhawk was spotted flying around high up inside St Mildreds Church in the centre of Tenterden. Mr Brown contacted several animal rescue groups before calling East Sussex Wildlife Rescue & Ambulance Service (WRAS) for help.
"Tenterden is certainly outside of our area, but as they had exhausted the other options and because we were quiet at the time, we decided to go across and see what we could do" said Trevor Weeks MBE Operations Director from East Sussex WRAS.
When rescuers arrived the sparrowhawk was flying back and forth from the Altar, along the Nave and into the Medievel Bell Tower.
Rescuers Trevor Weeks, Julie Stafford and Brian Downing, used a ladder and three very long poles and nets. Brian stayed in the middle of the church with some ladders to keep the bird flying to either end of the church where Julia and Trevor would attempt capture.
"We had several very close calls, and on one occasion the bird managed to get out of the net before I could get the net against the wall. Trevor and I tried several times to net the bird but after about 30 minutes I managed to get the bird into the net and against the wall" said Julie.
Trevor sprinted to the end of the church to help Julie, get the bird down to the ground safely. Where he was then able to check the bird over.
"The bird was a little tired, which was to be expected, but otherwise in very good health" said Trevor.
The sparrowhawk was in good enough condition to be taken outside and released. "It was brilliant to see the bird fly off after being trapped in the church and that we had not driven all that distance for nothing. Although I think the wood pigeon in the nearby trees was a bit shocked when the sparrowhawk flew straight into the same tree" said rescuer Brian.
East Sussex WRAS would like to thank all the staff and volunteer at St Mildreds Church for being so cooperative and help during the rescue.