Falconry show success - despite vandals

ORGANISERS of the East Anglian Countryside Show and Falconry Fair showed true grit and determination this weekend in ensuring the show must go on after vandals struck last week.

Russell Claydon

ORGANISERS of the East Anglian Countryside Show and Falconry Fair showed true grit and determination this weekend in ensuring the show must go on after vandals struck last week.

The event at the Mid Suffolk Showground at Stonham Barns, near Stowmarket, was nearly overshadowed by vandals who had used bolt cutters to release 30 birds from the Suffolk Owl Santuary sometime on Thursday night.

However, Andy Hume, manager of the Suffolk Owl Sanctuary and the chief organiser of the show, said: “It did not make any difference to the preparations.

“Everything had been done beforehand - the weather made more difference.”

Flying demonstrations, vintage cars and sheepdog displays were among the attractions at the event, supported by The East Anglian Daily Times.

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Mr Hume said despite the gloomy clouds which loomed large over the showground throughout the weekend, he was pleased with the turnout of around 1,000.

“It was good to see the perseverance of the British public who turned out despite the showers,” he said. “All the demonstrations still went out between the rain, although things were not as good as last year when we had some glorious conditions.

“We probably had about 1,500 people across the weekend compared to 2,5000 - 3,000 last year.”

He added the gundog demonstrations were alongside the Lowestoft dog agility team and the ever popular Suffolk Punches as the highlights of this year's event.

In the skies the Pungu battler eagle was a firm favourite and when the rain came there was plenty to entertain people in the craft marquee, food hall and beer tent.

An off-road Landrover Assault course was on hand for the more daring amongst the crowds, while the bygones and vintage cars were also crowd pleasers.

Mr Hume said falconers who have been staging 24-hour vigils to trace the missing birds as a result of Thursday night or Friday morning's break-in had proved successful, with all but one bird now safely back at the centre.

But the search is still on today for Isis, the 11-year-old Pharoah owl.

A strong sighting of him Saturday night in Crowfield Church was followed up, but he seemed to have flown on.

Sanctuary owners are now hoping it is only a matter of time before he is safely retrieved.

“It seems he is not too far away and fingers crossed in the next couple of days we will get a sighting of him and go out and get Isis back.

The other two birds that were missing after Friday lunchtime were found over the early part of the weekend.

At 5pm on Friday Titch, a one-year-old burrowing owl, was discovered in some bushes on the site, while it took until 5am on Saturday morning for Gollum, the four-year-old tawny owl to be spotted on the flying grounds in Stonham Barns.

Mr Hume added they now believed it was not an animal activist group which had carried out the attack and said the information he received is being passed onto the police to assist them with their investigation.

Anyone who spots an owl in the area, who is large and sandy in colour and does not look native to the UK, is asked to call the sanctuary on 01449 711425.

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