Cricketers and spectators were left in a flutter when a special little ‘Dickie Bird’ returned to the crease.
This barn owl swooped in to surprise players and fans mid-game when Castle Eden 1st XI took on Seaham Park 1st XI.
Peter McGlasham captured these stunning pictures when the feathered fan landed on the stumps to catch some up-close action.
The 55-year-old, from Castle Eden, was there to watch his cricketer son, Robbie, 22, play at his home ground.
The civil engineer, whose son Richard, 27, also plays for Castle Eden, said: “Robbie was playing so I’d just gone along to watch and I sometimes take a few photos while they’re playing.
“Ironically this was the first time I’ve taken my camera along this season – I was going to get some pictures for the team’s Facebook page.
“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.
“It was very tame, it was obviously someone’s pet that’s flown off and they might not even know it’s been to see a cricket match.
“The wicket keeper from Seaham Park picked it up because he had padded gloves on and started walking towards the club house with it and it just flew off.”
Peter said the crowd couldn’t quite believe what they saw at the game on Saturday.
He added: “Everyone was just amazed. The owl just came out of nowhere and swooped down onto the pitch.
“It was flying so low that it looked like it was going to land on some of the players’ heads at one point.
“What a time to have my camera with me. I’m really pleased with the pictures, I thought I was just going to get a couple of snaps of the game and I certainly wasn’t expecting this.
“It had a tag on its foot so it obviously belongs to someone. I hope it made its way back home when it flew off.
“Castle Eden has a very good reputation for putting on a good cricket tea so maybe it had heard about that and was after some free food.”
Castle Eden Cricket Club secretary Leo Taylor said the visiting owl gave everyone a good chuckle.
He said: “It was rather funny having an owl hold up a cricket match – it landed on the stumps twice.
“It was tame enough so there was no problem approaching it and it appeared to be well looked after, it was obviously someone’s pet.
“We tried to contact the RSPCA but couldn’t get through to them. I phoned a nearby farm that keeps lots of animals but they said they weren’t missing an owl.
“In the end we put it in a box and walked it up the bank and it just flew off. The whole thing was a good laugh for everyone. I’ve heard of all sorts of things holding up cricket matches, but never an owl sitting on the stumps.”
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