Norfolk centre comes to the aid of injured owl

It was on a wing and a prayer that this little owl made it to a safe haven in Norfolk after getting into trouble in the North Sea.

The Wing and a Prayer Wild Bird and Owl Haven in Stratton Strawless took a call saying that an injured owl had been found on a gas rig in the North Sea and was asked if they would take him in.

The short-eared owl was covered in oil and had been looked after for a few days by one of the rig workers.

He was transported in the cargo hold of a Saxon Airways helicopter in his own wooden box marked 'live owl' to Norwich airport and is now being looked after at the centre in Serpentine Lane.

The owl has been named 'Chopper' and is set to be released once he has fully recovered.

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Dee Emmett, from Wing and a Prayer, said: 'It turned out that he had been on the rig for five days. He had a lot of oil on him and they couldn't feed him anything.

'We brought him back to the haven and started cleaning him up and getting him to eat.

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'He is getting better and better. We've got most of the oil off him now and he is the most beautiful little thing.'

An influx of short-eared owls recently arrived at the RSPB's Titchwell Marsh, near King's Lynn.

It is believed Chopper, who arrived in Norwich last Tuesday, was also migrating to the UK when he got into trouble and ended up on the Ketch platform in the southern North Sea.

Staff from Wing and a Prayer have been in contact with the Department of Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra) and Natural England and have been given the all-clear to release him in the UK once he has recovered.

Ms Emmett added: 'There was some doubt as to whether we would be able to release him in the UK once he was better as he came from offshore but the view has been taken that he was probably on his way here when he got into trouble.

'Since the migratory short-eared owls have started arriving, he can be treated as one of them and released.'

Before little Chopper is released, the rig worker who found and looked after him plans to visit him. Chopper will then be released on the north Norfolk coast.

Have you got an animal story for the Evening News? Call reporter Kate Scotter on 01603 772326 or email

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