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Weymouth man saves tiny owl on Royal Navy ship
A WEYMOUTH man leapt into action when an unlikely visitor turned up on a Royal Navy ship.
Lieutenant Chris Patrick knew exactly what to do when a tiny owl was spotted cowering under the ship's crane on the flight deck.
The Royal Navy's annual workout of the Response Force Task Group (RFTG) was underway in the Mediterranean and Gulf when they were joined by the feathery friend.
Mr Patrick, ship weather man and dedicate member of the Royal Naval Bird Watching Society, said: “It was clear the poor little thing had literally run out of steam.
"It must have seen the ship and took refuge.
"It looked as though it was simply waiting to die.”
He immediately identified the bird as a Eurasian Scops owl and knew this species would be migrating south towards Africa around this time of year.
The 44-year-old took the creature to his cabin where he made a comfortable cage, gave it water and tried to feed it small pieces of meat to build up its strength.
It was during their busy operations and while working off the coast of Yemen that eagle-eyed sailors on board HMS Illustrious spotted the tiny owl.
After just two days, improvements in the bird's condition became clear as it became more alert and even tried to fly.
Mr Patrick added: “I knew that the owl needed to eat live food that it had caught itself.
"With no insects or bugs onboard HMS Illustrious, it was clear to me I needed to get it ashore as soon as it was fit enough.
"The opportunity arose when the ship neared the Omani coastline.”
After giving the owl a final check, he then released him into the skies.
He said: “The bird looked in good condition when it left and it was heading to shore with the prevailing winds.
"We all hope it made the journey safely.”
HMS Illustrious is the UK's high readiness amphibious assault carrier.
Based in Portsmouth, “Lusty” as she is affectionately known by her ship's company is part of the RFTG which is deployed on Cougar 13.
This includes exercises and operations with forces from a wide variety of other countries in the Mediterranean and the Red Sea.
The RFTG is the high readiness maritime force, comprising ships, submarines, aircraft and a landing force of Royal Marines, to act in response at short notice to any contingency tasking if required by government.
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