Category Archives: Out Of Place Wildlife

False Water Cobra on loose in County Durham

For three days three-year-old Keegan kept telling his mother Samantha Wozencroft there was a snake in the house – but she didn’t believe him.

That was until mum saw for herself the six-feet-long false water cobra slithering through the front room of their flat.

The South American reptile, whose venom rots skin and muscle, had already bitten the tail of the family’s pet dog, English bull terrier Tyler, and was threatening to turn on others.

Horrified, the 27-year-old mum, from Ouston, County Durham grabbed Tyler, ran outside with her mother-in-law Dawn Martin and son Keegan and rang 999.

After calling in expert help, the police managed to capture the creature and take it away. They are now investigating who owns the snake and how it came to be in Ms Wozencroft’s flat.

“I was so shocked. It was just unreal. You don’t expect to walk into your kitchen and see a snake staring at you,” she said.

“I don’t feel safe there now – what if there’s more? I have a three-year-old and being told the snake was venomous is just so scary.”

Retired inspector Eddie Bell, who Durham Police called in to contain the snake, said:

“I found the snake drinking water from the dog’s cage and managed to pick it up using a snake stick.

 “The boy had been telling the mum for three days they had a snake in the house.

It is believed the snake may have been in the loft for some time but given its size it must have had access to a good food source. It may have come down into the flat when that ran out.

PC Lee Jackson said: “It’s very lucky no-one was bitten.”

Tyler the dog is now on anti-biotics and may have to have part of his tail amputated to stop the infection spreading.

False water cobras are common to South America but rarely kept as pets in the UK. Their venom comes from their rear fangs, so they must catch and chew prey before injecting.

Source – Northern Echo, 30 June 2015

Synchronicity corner : although the snake wasn’t a python, it’s a nice touch to se a PC Lee Jackson being quoted.

Python Lee Jackson was an Australian rock band active from 1965 to 1968, before a brief sojourn in the United Kingdom. The group’s most famous hit was “In a Broken Dream”, featuring Rod Stewart as guest vocalist, and recorded by John Peel.

 

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Is there a Alien Big Cat on the loose in County Durham?

Could a mysterious creature spotted on the side of a busy trunk road be a big cat?

Hazell Lund, from Stockton, is convinced of it.

Ms Lund was travelling along the A66 at about 11.30am on Sunday (June 22) when she saw what she is sure was a large black cat.

“At first I thought it was a black Labrador but I soon realised it wasn’t,” she said.

“It pounced like a cat and the way it walked and held itself was very cat like.

“I know what I saw and I am convinced it was a big cat.”

Unfortunately, Ms Lund did not have time to retrieve her phone from her bag to take a photograph of the creature before it darted out of view.

Source – Northern Echo, 25 June 2015

The return of the Durham Puma, active in the 1990s ? Or its grandchildren…

http://northstar.boards.net/thread/134/alien-big-loose-county-durham

 

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King Crab – normally found in Arctic waters – found on Redcar beach

King Crab on Redcar beach
King Crab on Redcar beach

He’s spent his working life beneath the sea but even oceanographer David McCreadie was baffled by a rare visitor to Redcar.

For the formidable-looking red crustacean found by David’s fiancee Diane Weinoski looks for all the world like a King Crab – and they hardly ever stray from considerably icier waters.

Members of the lithododid family, king crabs are large, tasty and usually found in seas MUCH colder than Redcar’s.

And despite having worked and played in oceans across the world since the mid-1960s, David has never heard of one being found this far south.

 

His suspicion that the six-legged visitor was a king crab species has now been confirmed by David’s friend and world crab expert Dr Norman Sloan, of the remote Queen Charlotte Islands in British Columbia, Canada. Dr Sloan, who used to work in the Natural History Museum, is now contacting an expert on British crustaceans to discuss it further.

Davidsaid:

“I have dived as an amateur and professional since 1966 and never seen one anywhere near here before.

“I have heard that king crabs have migrated under the Arctic ice cap and been found in Norway, but this is so far south.”

In a lifetime devoted to marine matters, after studying oceanography and marine biology in Bangor, North Wales, in 1966, David stayed to do research before starting a successful oyster hatchery, mussel business and lobster tanks.

Since then, he’s started a smokery which supplies the Royal Family, worked as a senior offshore inspection rep in Abu Dhabi and is currently senior lecturer at the TWI Techonology Centre on Riverside Park, Middlesbrough.

In other words, when it comes to life under the sea, he knows what he’s talking about.

 

David said:

“I know my crustaceans and when I saw this one, I knew it was special.

“I know king crabs are common in the Arctic, especially around Alaska, and they have turned up in Norway recently, but how on earth this one has got so far south, I have no idea. To my knowledge, this is the first one.

“It could only come from very cold, deep water but we don’t have very cold deep water in the North Sea.

“Perhaps it was on its summer holidays!”

Sadly, the king crab’s Redcar vacation didn’t last long.

It was alive when Diane first came across it last Friday, but a subsequent return to the beach found it dead on the sands.

Source –  Middlesbrough Evening Gazette, 24 Feb 2015

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Rare bird spotted in Sunderland

Picture by Harry Richardson

Picture by Harry Richardson

Twitchers  have got into a flap over a Wearside visit from a Siberian bird.

An Olive-Backed Pipit was spotted in Roker Park. Sunderland, and has caused excitement among the city’s bird lovers.

It’s  a small passerine bird of the pipit genus, which breeds across South, north Central and East Asia, as well as in the northeast of European Russia.

It’s thought to have ended up in Sunderland after being blown off course.

Mark Newsome, of the Durham Bird Club, said:

“This is the fourth one we’ve seen in the County Durham area. They’re more commonly spotted in the Shetland Islands.

“However, there’s been strong easterly winds recently so it’s probably been blown off course.”
Source –  Sunderland Echo,  17 Oct 2014
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North Yorkshire Wallaby recaptured after 15 police officers and a specialist vet drafted in

An escaped wallaby forced the closure of a major road during rush-hour today.

Some 15 police officers were involved in the operation to retrieve the animal, which fled from Askham Bryan College in York yesterday.

Officers closed a section of the A1237 between Haxby and Strensall in North Yorkshire at around 6pm after the wallaby was spotted in the area.

A specialist vet was drafted in to help retrieve the creature, which was eventually cornered on an embankment near the North York Bypass, police said.

A tranquilliser dart was used to stop the wallaby, which is being returned to the college where an animal management course is run.

The road was reopened shortly before 8.30pm.

Inspector Richard Mallinson said:

“We detained the wallaby – without the use of handcuffs.

“The risk was, if the wallaby went across the road, it could have caused an accident. We have to look at the safety of the public first.

“It’s an animal not common in the UK so a specialist vet was brought in from Hull who used a tranquilliser dart.

“The experts advised we couldn’t use a Taser because it could kill the animal or make it wild.”

 Representatives from Askham Bryan College were in attendance during the rescue, police said.

While native to Australia, there are small colonies of wallabies in the Lake District and around Loch Lomond in Scotland. Last year a wallaby was seen around London’s Highgate cemetery.

Source – Northern Echo,  10 Oct 2014

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Parrot found living in Sunderland park

An exotic bird has been seen living in a Sunderland city park – but now a twitcher is hoping to track down the animal’s owner.

Michael Lowes says he first saw the Blue-headed Amazon parrot sitting in a tree in Roker Park, close to where he lives, more than a month ago.

Mr Lowes, a member of Durham Bird Club, says he believes that the animal is someone’s pet that has gone missing from its home.

The bird has been seen mingling with other creatures in the park and eating berries from a Swedish Whitebeam tree.

I’d heard about the bird being in the area and it has a really distinctive shrill,” said Mr Lowes, 63, who lives in Park Parade, Roker.

I live across the road from where the trees are and it’s there first thing in the morning and at night too,” he added.

It’s very bold and if the pigeons come into the tree, it chases them away.

“You can see its claws are sharp by how it rips through the twigs to get berries.

“It’s obviously someone’s pet and needs to get back to them.”

Mr Lowes added that he has tried to find the owner of the bird online, but as yet has had no such luck.

“I posted something on the Sunderland Message Board and there was someone mentioning that a person in Chester Road had lost a parrot, but nothing more came of it.

“Hopefully, the owner sees this and comes to get it back, because with the weather starting to turn worse, you wonder how it will be affected as it gets colder, and that’s what worries me.”

Source –  Sunderland Echo,  08 Oct 2014

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Sightings of another out of place creature in Wallsend

Hot on the heels of recent reports of an Eagle Owl on the loose in Wallsend, Tyne & Wear, North East England – https://alchemyandaccident.wordpress.com/2014/09/23/eagle-owl-spotted-in-wallsend/  – comes this…

 

Is it a dog, a badger or an old fox?

Well, experts think this may be the first sighting of a Raccoon roaming free on Tyneside.

The furry mammal, usually found in North America, was spotted by a surprised jogger in Wallsend on Friday morning.

Wildlife experts believe it is the first recorded sighting of the wild beast in the area.

Tom Hughes, 22, was running through the grounds of Wallsend Hall at around 7am when something caught his eye.

He said: “I was running along and came across this curious creature.

“At first I thought it was a badger but its unusual facial markings made me think it was a raccoon.

“It was big and stocky, but very placid and didn’t seem to be in a hurry to get anywhere.”

Tom, who lives in Howdon, near Wallsend, is training to be in the Navy.

He said he hasn’t seen anything like this before but hoped to raise some awareness of the creature being out there.

I wasn’t going to go for my run on Friday morning but I’m glad I did now,” he said.

The early bird catches the worm, as they say.”

The last recorded sighting of a raccoon was in Sunderland in 2012.

They are considered dangerous with changeable temperaments, but some people are known to keep them as pets.

Following a change to the law in 2007 which removed the need for a licence, they are becoming more prominent in Britain.

Several sightings have also been recorded in County Durham.

Steve Lowe, head of conservation at the Northumberland Wildlife Trust based in Gosforth, Newcastle, said: “That is either a raccoon or a raccoon dog.

“Because we can’t see the feet we can’t be certain which.

“These are non-native animals which appear to be kept as pets. They can be aggressive so inevitably in such circumstances the owner finds them too hard to handle and abandons them.

“They are also extremely good escapologists. Two were recorded in County Durham recently but this is the first for us and not especially welcome. “

The last record of one was in Sunderland in 2012.

“It may be the same animal although it’s a stretch to say that it definitely is.

For a recent Racoon sighting in Chopwell, Gateshead, see :

https://alchemyandaccident.wordpress.com/2014/09/10/raccoon-spotted-in-north-east-england-garden/

Source – Newcastle Journal, 26 Sept 2014

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