Giant owl missing in Wiltshire after hosepipe fright

image copyrightMere Down Falconry
image captionBella was hand-reared at Mere Down Falconry and has been displayed at Longleat Safari Park

A giant owl has gone missing from a falconry centre after being "spooked" by a hosepipe.

European eagle owl Bella, who has a 5ft (1.5m) wingspan, "just took off" from Mere Down Falconry, near Salisbury, on 14 May.

Volunteers have been out looking for her every night and she has been spotted in the Gasper and Zeal areas.

Volunteer Sharon Dixon said: "It's amazing how this huge lady is able to keep hidden and ahead of the game."

Ms Dixon said the one-year-old "got spooked by a hosepipe on the floor" and flew away.

image copyrightMere Down Falconry
image captionBella has been spotted at a nearby chicken farm three times - described as "her KFC"

"We've got no concerns about her surviving because she's a massive bird and there isn't much out there that could hurt her," she said.

"But we honestly thought she might fly down to someone to ask for food and we'd catch her that way but she hasn't done that."

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The 5lb (2.2kg) owl was hand-reared by Allan Gates at Mere Down and has been displayed at nearby Longleat Safari Park.

The European eagle owl is the largest owl in the world and Ms Dixon said they "don't twit twoo" but instead "screech like an eagle or crow".

She added: "We think she's stayed local because we've got a chicken farm here which she's been spotted at three times - so she's got her KFC just down the road.

"But we've had a massive response from the public and Allan is very grateful.

"Obviously he wants her back because she is his baby and she's booked in for Longleat in October."

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