A cricket match which was almost abandoned when an OWL landed on the batsman’s stumps has been reunited with its owner – after he saw a picture of his pet on social media.
Steven Franklin, 25, was desperately searching for his barn owl Shadow when he suddenly realised his pet had decided to join the crease at a village cricket match.
He visited Castle Eden Cricket Club where he interrupted a match by swooping down to land on the stumps.
It was only when Steven, who adopted Shadow four weeks ago, saw pictures of a snowy owl on Facebook that he noticed it was his pet starring back at him.
The former owner was later contacted and then told Steven exactly where Shadow was so he could retrieve him.
Steven of Peterlee, County Durham, said: “I came out on Friday morning (Aug 19) and he [Shadow] wasn’t in the aviary – he’d squeezed out through the bars.
“I was out looking for him all over the place but couldn’t find him anywhere, but people were posting pictures on Facebook of him at the industrial estate nearby and at the Black Bull pub in Old Shotton.
“Eventually he made his way to Wingate and an old couple found him and put him in their shed.
“He was still registered to the woman who I’d got him off and she was contacted and got in touch with me to let me know where he was.”
Steven, who also has a cat, dog, goshawk, Harris hawk, and a female barn owl which he hopes to pair with Shadow next year, added: “I couldn’t believe it when I saw the pictures of him at the cricket match.
“I thought it was hilarious, especially how he landed on the stumps.
“I had no idea he even liked cricket. Maybe he could be the team’s new mascot?”
Speaking about Shadow’s personality, Steven said: “He’s really tame and he wouldn’t know how to catch food for himself in the wild.
“He’s always been around people so he just recognises them as his own kind.
“He probably saw the match going on and just went down so he could be with everyone.”
Spectators at Castle Eden Cricket Club’s first team game laughed and joked after thinking little ‘Dickie Bird’ had returned to the crease.
Cricket fan Peter McGlasham, 55, captured the feathered fan on his camera as it joined the game for a run out against Seaham Park 1st XI mid-match.
Peter, of Sunderland, Tyne., who watching his son Robbie, 22, play at the time, said: “Just as the players got out on the field and the game started, this owl just appeared out of nowhere and swooped down onto the pitch.
“It flew around a bit and then landed on the stumps, then hopped down onto the ground.”
The Seaham Park wicket keeper, who was sporting a pair of padded gloves took hold of the owl – but it flew away before he could reach the club house.