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Giant rare eagle owl spotted with kill near Ruckinge

A security guard had a late night confrontation with a difference when he came across a giant rare eagle owl on a country lane.

Grahame Boreham, 57, was driving home his security job on a lorry park near Ashford, when he saw the Eurasian eagle owl in Ruckinge Road, between Port Lympne and Ruckinge, with a dead crow in its talons.

"I was coming home from work at about 2am, and as I came round the corner it was standing in the middle of the road with its prey in its claws, looking at me," said Mr Boreham, who lives in Robertsbridge in East Sussex.

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Grahame Boreham was confronted with a rare Eagle Owl in Ruckinge Road
Grahame Boreham was confronted with a rare Eagle Owl in Ruckinge Road

"I was as shocked as he was.

"I would say he was two foot high, and probably a foot round. I thought it was a small deer when I came round the corner - you don't expect it."

Mr Boreham said the large owl didn't seem particularly worried by his presence, and a stand-off ensued as he filmed it.

"You wouldn't want to go over and stroke him", he added. But eventually the bird took off, carrying its crow meal with it.

It's unclear whether the owl is a wild bird or an escapee.

A small number of breeding pairs are living wild in the UK - with estimated wild numbers varying between 12 and 40 pairs - and Mr Boreham believes the owl in Ruckinge Road could be one of them.

"It looked wild," he added.

"Apparently there's been two escapees - one from Ashford and one from Faversham, but they don't think its theirs because it's too far away."

"One woman was trying to track her eagle owl down and said the one I saw looked very happy, and even if it was hers she'd be happy to leave it as it is."

One of the largest species of owl - and the largest predatory bird in England, following the loss of golden eagles from the Lake District - the eagle owl can grow to a total length of 30ins with a 6ft 2ins wingspan, and weigh up to 4.6 kilos.

But the giant owl divides opinion among conservationists. Some think the UK population is from migratory European birds, and should be allowed to thrive, but others say it’s an unwelcome escapee from captivity.

Resembling an overgrown long-eared owl, it can take prey up to the size of a deer fawn and, as a top predator, will not tolerate other raptors in its territory.

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