04 May 2016
by Gerry Warren
Shoppers in Canterbury city centre were stunned to see a large bird of prey nonchalantly sunning itself while perched on a restaurant sign this morning.
The large bird is thought to be a Harris's hawk, but is also similar to a small golden eagle, except for its white-tipped tail.
It was photographed by John Hippisley, who runs city ghost tours, outside Pret a Manger in The Parade.
He said: "I was walking through the city and saw people gathered round pointing up at something and went over to investigate.
"It was certainly an impressive looking bird and I noticed all the pigeons had cleared off pretty sharpish.
"I noticed it has jesses around its legs so was likely to be a falconer's bird and they sometimes fly birds of prey if there is a pigeon problem.
"It just stayed their sunning itself for about 30 minutes before flying off."The hawk was being flown by a falconer hired by the Whitefriars shopping centre to tackle the pigeon problem, but the bird is said to have gone "AWOL".
Spokesman Martyn Barr said: "We started to use birds of prey to humanely tackle the pigeon problem almost four years ago and contract Rentokil to do it.
The bird was spotted in the city centre. Picture: John Hippisley.
"The hawk is flown from the multi-storey car park where there is a particular issue with pigeons and their mess.
"I understand the bird was active today but has decided to go AWOL and the falconer is trying to get it back."
The Harris's hawk is a native of South America but many falconers fly them in the UK.