American bald eagle lands at British hotel – and leaves schoolgirl with cuts to the arm

May 26, 2010 | by | 0 Comments

A schoolgirl has described the terrifying moment an escaped American bald eagle sank its talons into her hand after landing in her back garden.

India Arikan, aged ten, went to investigate when the bird of prey was spotted in the grounds of her parents’ exclusive hotel.

But as she raised her arm to take a picture it swooped from the trees and attempted to land on her hand, leaving her with several cuts.

The year six pupil said: ”I was by the tree in the garden and I was just taking pictures and suddenly it jumped down on me.

”It really hurt and its claws went into the skin on my hand. I was really scared because it was huge but it wouldn’t come off when I tried to shake it.

”Eventually it came off and flew away again but there were cuts on my hand.”

India’s mum Sarah, 43, added: ”She was saying, ‘Oh my God, oh my God,’ and running around in circles and trying to get the eagle off and it wouldn’t come off.

”Then it flew off again.  She came in with her hand covered in blood and she was sobbing, really shocked.  But it wasn’t doing it to be malicious or anything.

”I think the eagle thought it was time for him to come down on her arm, and he came swooping down right past Nick’s ear and landed on her arm.”

The drama began at 4pm on Monday after the bird swooped into the grounds of Berwick Lodge near Bristol.

Sarah rang the RSPCA and the RSPB but staff didn’t believe her because the raptors are extinct in Europe.

The resourceful hotelier then contacted a friend who works with wild animals to get her in touch with local bird trainer Lloyd Buck.

He arrived at the hotel within a few hours and managed to coax the frightened bird from the trees with some lamb fillet from the hotel’s kitchen.

Sarah added: ”He put down some lamb fillets and the eagle immediately came down to eat them and sat on Lloyd’s arm.  It was amazing.  Once it was on his arm it was just so tame.

”Then we had this really surreal moment when Lloyd came in to the dining room to have dinner – and he sat there inside with this great big eagle on his arm.

”It is definitely one of the more unusual visitors we have had here.”

India added: ”The cuts weren’t that bad but there’s big scratch on the palm of my hand and another scrape beside it and another scrape on the back of my hand that stings.

”It was really interesting in the end though when Lloyd had him on his arm.”

The eagle had leather straps and a tag on its leg which let them know the bird was from the the Cotswold Falconry Centre in Moreton-in-Marsh, Glos. – more than 60 miles away.

Staff from the centre came to pick up the ten-year-old eagle, named Wotan, a few hours after he had arrived.

Head falconer Mike Hope said: ”He’s one of our flying display birds.

”Sunday was a lovely warm day, with lots of thermals, and he managed to get to extreme heights when he was flown that day.

”He went so high we lost sight of him, and he drifted down with the winds to Bristol.

”After he’d gone that sort of distance he didn’t know how to find us again.”

Bird expert Lloyd Buck added he was ”completely surprised” to see an American bald eagle perched on a hotel in the British countryside.

He said: ”I arrived at about 8pm, and I walked around and saw him up on top of the building about 50 feet up.

”I must say that I didn’t believe it was going to be a bald eagle, so I was completely surprised.

”I got them to give us some meat from the hotel and he came down to the ground first and began walking towards me.

”I was thinking, ‘Wow you don’t see that very often.’

”He’s a very well-trained bird, and he was very well-behaved in fact.  I even went into the hotel with him and had dinner with him on my arm.

”When he came in to land on India he must have been mistaken and thought she had food for him.”

The bald eagle is the national symbol of the United States of America but is only a captive-bred bird in the UK.

The bird of prey grows up to a metre long, with a wingspan of up to two-and-a-half metres, and can weigh up to seven kilograms.

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