STAFF at a wartime museum were astounded when they found that a tank had been invaded by a cheeky feathered intruder.
Volunteers at the Heugh Battery, on Hartlepool's Headland, were busy painting an armoured vehicle from the 1950s and when they left the doors open so that paint could dry.
But when staff returned the following day they discovered that a squatter had taken up residence inside the car.
Amazingly, a small bird had taken the opportunity to set up home in the safety of the vehicle and had flown inside and made a nest in the tank's turret.
Not only that, the bird was closely guarding an egg while waiting for it to hatch.
John Southcott, chairman of the Battery, said: "I have never ever seen anything like this before. To call it a surprise would be a massive understatement.
"The boys had been refurbishing the inside of the vehicle and parts of the outside car were getting touched up with paint.
"They left the doors open so that the paint could dry and we couldn't believe it when we saw the nest in there.
"Everybody's been coming to see the birds and it's caused a lot of amusement among the staff here!"
The workers say that they have taken the decision to put a temporary halt on work on the vehicle – because they don't have the heart to move the bird on.
Drax Power Station, near Leeds, had donated the Saracen armoured car to the wartime experience, which is on the site of a former World War gunning station.
Volunteers were restoring the car so that it could be enjoyed by the thousands of visitors that come to the popular attraction over the summer months.
It was expected that it would be ready to be added to the museum's collection within the next couple of weeks but John says that visitors may have to wait a little while until they get to see the museum's latest addition.
"Work has come to grinding halt," the chairman said.
"We'll have to wait for the egg to hatch now and see if the birds move on."