An animal lover has spoken of his shock at seeing his pet owl show up at a cricket match.
Steven Franklin was desperately searching for his barn owl Shadow ever since he escaped his cage last Friday morning.
Unbeknown to him, Shadow made his way over to Castle Eden Cricket Club where he interrupted a match by swooping down to land on the stumps.
Castle Eden 1st XI was taking on Seaham Park 1st XI on Saturday when their new feathered fan came down for a closer look at the game.
Peter McGlasham, whose sons Robbie and Richard play for Castle Eden, was there with his camera and managed to get some snaps of the owl, including one of a wicket keeper carrying him on his glove.
Steven, who works as a care assistant in a care home, found out where Shadow, nine, had been when he saw our story online.
The 25-year-old, of Peterlee, said: “I’ve only had him four weeks. He belonged to a woman in Halifax who was looking for a loving home for him, so I took him in.
“I came out on Friday morning and he 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?
“I’m hoping he doesn’t go out on any more solo adventures.
“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.”