Shop’s sur­prise vis­i­tors

Stirling Observer - - FRONT PAGE - Robert Fairnie

The pitch at Ban­nock­burn High School was scorched when van­dals, mark­ing Guy Fawkes night, let off fire­works on it.

Po­lice have is­sued an ap­peal to try and trace those re­spon­si­ble. Stir­ling’s Hog­manay cel­e­bra­tions are re­turn­ing to the cas­tle es­planade.

Two fire­work dis­plays and a pro­gramme of en­ter­tain­ment – fea­tur­ing The Voice win­ner Ste­vie McCrorie – are planned for the area in front of the cas­tle.

AStir­ling shop­keeper was left in a flap after a pair of sur­prise guests paid his city cen­tre store a visit last week.

Saeed Khalily couldn’t be­lieve what he was see­ing when a spar­rowhawk swooped into his Best One shop on the city’s Baker Street. The rap­tor flew through the open door shortly after 10am on Fri­day – knocked over a stack of Pot Noo­dles and made its way to the ice lol­lies be­fore head­ing for the till.

The hawk, whose species are known to fre­quent city cen­tres, was in hot pur­suit of a pi­geon which had ear­lier also en­tered the con­ve­nience store.

Mr Khalily, who cap­tured the bizarre or­deal on CCTV, called in the help of his hu­man cus­tomers be­fore arm­ing him­self with a broom and blue box in a bid to rid his store of the birds.

In dra­matic cam­era footage seen by the Ob­server the 52-yearold shop boss can be seen duck­ing and div­ing as the bird flaps around above his head.

He told the Ob­server: “I was just sit­ting in the shop deal­ing with a cus­tomer when a pi­geon flew in – and then this hawk fol­lowed it. I couldn’t be­lieve it.

“The hawk knocked over all of

the Pot Noo­dles and went to­wards the win­dow. It was try­ing to get back out­side. When it couldn’t get out it started fly­ing around the shop and went down be­hind the freezer.

“I got some of the cus­tomers to help and we had to take the freezer away from the wall to help the bird out. I had the box and I was try­ing to catch it safely as we didn’t want it to in­jure it­self.”

Mr Khalily ex­plained that the spar­rowhawk then headed to a win­dow be­hind his till in a fresh bid to es­cape be­fore even­tu­ally leav­ing via the front door – fol­low­ing the pi­geon which had ear­lier left.

Puz­zled by what he had seen he be­gan surf­ing the in­ter­net in a bid to iden­tify his feath­ered vis­i­tor – us­ing a still im­age of the bird from his CCTV footage.

He added: “I was look­ing on Google and I think I found a few hawks which look quite sim­i­lar. We have a lot of cus­tomers to the shop but I don’t of­ten see any like this.”

After ex­am­in­ing the footage the Ob­server’s Coun­try View colum­nist Keith Gra­ham iden­ti­fied the bird as a spar­rowhawk. He said the species had moved into ur­ban ar­eas such as Stir­ling en­cour­aged by the grow­ing pi­geon pop­u­la­tion.

Spar­rowhawks are small birds of prey adapted for hunt­ing birds in con­fined spa­ces.

Their wing­span can be 60cm to 80cm.

Their diet is pre­dom­i­nantly small birds while the larger fe­male of­ten preys on big­ger birds such as pi­geons.

Its hunt­ing tech­nique re­lies on its stealth and it usu­ally watches from a perch be­fore fly­ing fast and low – us­ing all avail­able cover.

They in­tend to catch their prey by com­plete sur­prise, but if they fail lengthy chases can en­sue – al­though not of­ten through con­ve­nience stores.

To see the video visit the Stir­ling Ob­server’s Face­book and Twit­ter pages.

Top tools Saeed armed him­self with a brush and box. Inset, the bird makes an en­trance In a flap Saeed was alarmed by the in­trud­ing spar­rowhawk

Bul­let Great bit of copys

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