Residents get the bird from hawk attacks

People living in Ilfracombe have been terrorised by a dive-bombing harris hawk.

A kamikaze bird of prey has been terrorising residents and workmen in a quiet Ilfracombe street.

People living in Church Road have been dive-bombed several times by a stray harris hawk that sits high up on windowsills waiting for its moment before swooping down on to the heads of unsuspecting passers-by.

The rambunctious bird, which hails from South America and is a favourite with falconers for its display abilities, even drew blood when it took particular aversion to a local carpenter working on the home of Val Gates.

She first spotted the brown and black bird almost two weeks ago as she walked her dogs, when the neighbourhood seagulls were extremely conspicuous by their absence.


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It soon appeared to have set up home in the street and a neighbour contacted a local bird watcher, who identified it as a South American harris hawk.

It is not found in the wild in the UK and the Church Road visitor had a ring on its leg to show it had been owned by someone.

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“Then on Thursday it was sitting high up on my back windowsill, swooped down and whizzed over my head,” said Val.

“I didn’t feel its claws but I felt it go through my hair. Then on Friday it would not leave the carpenter alone, swooping on him six or seven times and twice it drew blood.”

Carpenter Ian Davies had heard a few stories about the stroppy bird, but said he had never been attacked by one before:

“On Friday I was working outside when I was hit from behind by the hawk, its talons caught my scalp and drew blood. Not a serious wound, but I was a bit concerned it might catch my eyes. I was attacked six or seven times during the day with the bird perching in a nearby tree then launching an attack, each time it made contact with my head or neck.

“In the end the neighbours had to stand out there to ward him off as I was using power tools and it could have been quite dangerous.

“It was definitely not scared of people and seemed to be attacking as though defending its territory. It could have been very dangerous if it were to attack a small child.”

Val told the Gazette on Monday she had started to fear the hawk would attack her two small dogs, but since residents had not seen the bird over the weekend and are hoping their visitor has found somewhere else to roost.

Has the aggressive harris hawk moved into your street, or have you lost one recently? Tell us about it at the North Devon Gazette by calling 01271 345056.

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