A falconry show at a North-east gala came to an abrupt end when a bird of prey was attacked by dozens of seagulls.
Oliver, a six-year-old falcon owned by Elite Falconry based near Kirkcaldy, was performing at Westhill Gala when the seabirds struck.
After taking to the air for around 30 seconds, he was spotted by a colony of common gulls which were breeding just over the gala field wall.
Barry Blyther, head falconer at Elite Falconry, said: “About 10 or 12 gulls attacked Oliver over the show field, but as he went behind the properties beside the field, the whole colony lifted and about 60 gulls turned on him, which is what drove him to take safe refuge. Smart falcon, they would easily have killed him.”
Barry found the bird atop a bungalow in a nearby street.
He said: “He had a couple of ruffled feathers where one or two of the gulls had managed to get a beak to him and give him a little shake, but he was absolutely unscathed.”
The seagulls’ behaviour, Barry explained, was perfectly natural, as they were trying to protect their young from a perceived threat. But he said gulls were becoming a bigger problem inland due to an increase in numbers.
Barry admitted they “got it wrong” over choosing to fly Oliver, but explained deciding on the right bird was difficult when gulls were an issue.
He said: “If we fly small falcons, they’re at threat from the gulls. But if we fly big falcons and the gulls come in and try to drive it away, the falcon will catch them and kill them.”
Despite Oliver’s troubles, the falconer thanked the “great crowd” at the gala.