SOARING above the skies in an effort to warn off smaller birds a pair of falcons are helping protect a marina full of sailing boats.
Sister and brother Medusa and Bosun, seven-month old falcons, are patrolling above Haslar Marina under the watchful eye of handler Chris Kemble.
Ahead of sky-borne patrols they wear a hood to calm them down but this is taken off when they take to the skies.
Medusa has been named after the Harbour Defence Motor Launch Medusa, a ship commissioned by the Royal Navy during the Second World War for harbour defence, anti-submarine work and convoy escort duties.
The only surviving harbour defence vessel in original condition, the boat is based in the marina.
Falconer Chris said: ‘Marinas face a big problem with starlings, which use the masts on boats as a stopping point; their droppings can damage the masts and also stain them.
‘While Medusa doesn’t go out hunting the starlings, her presence is the real deterrence - it’s enough to discourage them from going into the area.’
Sailor John Waddington, who came up with the idea of naming the new falcon Medusa, said that she makes a major difference in the marina.
He said: ‘Coming from another marina that didn’t have them, you can see a huge difference in just how clean Haslar is.
‘Given how special HDML Medusa is, it only made sense to me that the new falcon was named after her, and it’s amazing to see her in action.’
Marina manager Ben Lippiett said the falcons are not only doing a great job, but are also proving popular with boat owners – who chose the Medusa name themselves.
He said: ‘Chris told us that he had a new falcon and was keen to do something with the marina.
‘We had a social media poll to find a name for the new bird and Medusa was the name chosen.
‘We’ve had falcons here for about 10 years but it’s been great to see everyone here at the marina warm to Medusa and get to know her.’
Alan Watson, the current captain of HDML Medusa, said: ‘We have been here for seven years so Gosport is very much our home; to now have the new falcon here named in our honour is just tremendous.
‘Medusa seems to have really taken to the ship as well; she’s always perching herself on the gun barrel to keep an eye out for starlings.
‘Everyone at the marina seems to recognise Medusa now, she’s basically part of the family here now.’