A lost bird of prey has become an internet sensation after a manic cross-country search ended in a Poulton field.
Nikita, a steller’s sea eagle with a wingspan of 8ft was found safe and well in a field off Garstang Road East on Thursday after taking off during a training exercise in North Yorkshire.
The show bird was soaring high above Ribblesdale when its trainer, Chris O’Donnell, believes it became lost in bad weather and was unable to find its way home.
Mr O’Donnell, of Hawk Experience Ltd, became involved in a five day, 50 mile car chase across the country to re-claim the prize bird.
He said: “Since the search started in earnest we were 10 minutes behind it all the way along its journey.
“It’s an enormous bird and when it’s flying it’s almost like a small glider and very difficult to miss.
“When it was spotted we would get there but it had moved, so we just kept hoping it would stop.”
The 10-year-old bird was found on the outskirts of Poulton after travelling into Lancashire and flying through Foulridge in Pendle, Clitheroe, Longridge and Great Eccleston before landing in the field.
The handlers were helped by Mike Treece-Birch, a Poulton gameskeeper, who assisted them in securing the bird.
Mr O’Donnell added: “As soon as we found her she came straight over to us and looked relieved.
“I was over the moon to get her back.
“I was the happiest man in the world because I hadn’t slept for four or five days.
“I had been up at the crack of dawn, charging about everywhere doing TV and radio interviews, and it was a very stressful couple of days.”
Nikita was bathed when she returned home and is resting in her enclosure.
But Mr O’Donnell says it will be business as usual for Nikita come Monday when she takes part in shows at Warwick Castle, in Warwickshire.