Falcon rescued:‘Shadow’ flies the Sperrins

Shadow the falcon who was rescued in Draperstown
Shadow the falcon who was rescued in Draperstown

SPERRINS Gateway Landscape Partnership has helped rescue a falcon that made an unscheduled international journey.

The wayward bird flew all the way across the Sperrin Mountains from the Republic of Ireland to Belfast before landing in Draperstown, a distance of over 100 miles, last week.

Spotted by staff on the roof of the Back Row Recreation Centre in Draperstown, Shadow, a young captive bred falcon, was exhausted and starving. Stéphanie Baine, Landscape Officer in the Sperrins Gateway Landscape Partnership, and Malachy McGuiggan, of Draperstown, managed to capture the tired bird in a butterfly net and get it to safety with help from TACT Wildlife Rescue Centre in Crumlin.

“When I got to work that morning I had no idea what I was about to see”, said Stéphanie, “I certainly didn’t expect to rescue a falcon. It was a young bird and obviously disorientated but did not look injured in any way.

“Falcons are beautiful birds and, even though it was not a wild peregrine, this was probably the closest I will get to the peregrines we have here in the Sperrins.”

Owner, Liam Conaghan, was over the moon that the young bird was rescued. “I can’t believe Shadow was found alive. We thought she was lost for good. I am really grateful to the Sperrins Gateway and TACT Wildlife Centre for their help.”

Shadow was bred in captivity and was only 10 weeks old. She couldn’t hunt for food when she escaped and so became exhausted very quickly. She had been spotted in Belfast two days before but they had not been able to catch her. How she made her way to Draperstown will never be known.

“Falcons are not easy to catch,” added Debbie Nelson from TACT whose centre operates through the generosity of donations and volunteers, “It was lucky that Stephanie had handled birds like this before and managed to catch her and bring her to us. I am not sure it would have survived much longer in the wild.”

After her short holiday in sunny Draperstown and visit to the TACT Wildlife Centre, Shadow was returned to her owners.