Search for Whisper the barn owl who has gone missing in Gorleston

Whisper the barn owl in full flight. The bird went missing during a session with pupils triggering a

Whisper the barn owl in full flight. The bird went missing during a session with pupils triggering a search. - Credit: Archant

Fears are growing for Whisper the barn owl after he unexpectedly flew away during a display in Gorleston.

Fears are growing for Whisper the barn owl after he unexpectedly flew off during a display. He is pi

Fears are growing for Whisper the barn owl after he unexpectedly flew off during a display. He is pictured with Isobel Rees at Fairhaven's green festival at South Walsham - Credit: Archant

The three year old has been missing since Tuesday evening when he took off during an after-school session with children at Cliff Park Ormiston Academy.

Despite a frantic search his keeper and falconer David Gook was unable to locate him and volunteers are today pasting posters to trees and knocking on doors around the housing estate close to the school.

Whisper who is hand reared and unable to survive in the wild is likely to be still in the area and unwilling to cross the main road to the James Paget Hospital.

Mr Gook, whose Acle-based company Hawking Experience runs displays and handling sessions across the county, said barn owls were among the most fragile of birds with Whisper likely to struggle after just a few days.


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The worsening weather forecast added to his problems with barn owls being one of the few species that cannot fly in the rain.

'I thought he was going to come back to the school but he didn't.' Mr Gook said. 'We have taken him everywhere with us and he has never gone missing before. But last night he decided he was going to have his own experience. He is hand reared from three days old and dependent on us for everything. He only weighs 9oz and he will soon die.

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'He is as tame as anything. If anyone sees him they will probably be able to pick him up, he is handled every day of the year.

'I am really worried about the bird's safety.'

Whisper had been visiting the academy for around four weeks with other birds as part of its after-school enrichment programme.

Mr Gook suspects he may have been startled by circling seagulls and further alarmed by a tractor on the school field. Having flown to a nearby rooftop he was then frightened by a barking dog and flew off among the houses where he was lost.

Generally barn owls are in decline dropping from 7000 breeding pairs to 1000 at the last count.

Anyone who spots Whisper can ring Mr Gook on 0754 9279592 or 01493 750973.

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