WITH a wingspan of 6ft, this is certainly a bird not to be messed with.
The eagle owl, one of the fiercest predators in the bird world, was spotted perching on the roof of a house in Waterlooville.
Peter Beasley and his daughter Vanessa could not believe their eyes as they spotted the majestic creature in Gordon Road yesterday.
Mr Beasley, 70, told The News: ‘I looked up and it was looking at me from the gutter. It was enormous.
‘My daughter came out with her camera and it swooped down and just missed her head as it went after a pigeon. It’s certainly a big beast.
‘All the other birds around here were very disturbed.’
Vanessa, 40, added: ‘I was bit shocked.
‘It’s not an everyday thing.
‘I couldn’t get over the size of it.
‘It made me a bit wary of putting my baby in the garden.’
Keith Betton, county bird recorder for the Hampshire Ornithological Society, said: ‘The only ones found in Britain are birds that have escaped from captivity. They are extremely fierce in the bird world.
Following several sightings, it transpired this particular bird had escaped from captivity and had been missing for a week.
It was later spotted perching in a shed at nearby timber merchants JF Goodwillie Ltd, off London Road, and was caught in a net by its owner, Ian Payne.
Mr Payne runs a mobile entertainment company and keeps three eagle owls which he takes to events.
This particular female bird – nicknamed Big Mama as she weighs almost a stone – escaped from the aviary.
Mr Payne, 45, of Dayslondon Road, Purbrook, who has a licence to keep the owls, said: ‘I got into the aviary and before I could get the chance to put the bolt on, she flew towards the door and flew straight out. It’s a one-off.’
He added the eagle owl would not have been dangerous to people as it was used to being handled by humans.
The eagle owl is Europe’s largest owl and has appeared in Harry Potter movies as it is supposedly a wizard’s favourite pet.
It is not native to Britain and normally lives in the wild in rocky landscapes like the Pyrenees or Alps.
At around three times the size of a seagull, the owls are so large they can kill small deer or foxes.