A former RAF engineer who has been involved in conflicts around the world is fighting a new battle – to find his beloved pet owl.
Sox, a male Barn Owl, flew from the Church Crookham home of Simon Wilson on March 29 and has not returned.
“His ankle leather broke while he was being moved from his outdoor aviary into the house for the evening,” said Mr Wilson.
“He has ‘playtime’ each night, which keeps him tame and friendly for public handling.
“Initially he played around the garden then the close, in the dark, and thought it was a great game. He was not particularly hungry so could not be tempted down for food.”
Mr Wilson said that after about two and a half hours Sox flew off in the direction of Basingbourne Park and the family lost sight of him.
Sox is almost two years old and was hand reared from seven weeks old so he does not have the instincts of a wild owl.
“That night I searched until around 3am and my wife was up before dawn to search some more,” said 57-year-old Mr Wilson, who served 31 years in the RAF and was based at RAF Odiham from 1996 to 2010.
“My son and I joined the search and many local people, including dog walkers and all who pass through the park started to keep their eyes open.”
By March 31 the family had posters up and notified all the various organisations such as vets, the police and The Independent Bird Register.
“Many more local people were walking around the woods, getting a stiff neck looking up,” said Mr Wilson.
On the same day, there were reports of sightings of Sox in the Basingbourne woods near the Scout Hut but by the time Mr Wilson arrived he had gone.
“We were out early and late each day and there were repeated sightings by members of the public, right through until Sunday April 6 but on each occasion when we arrived there was no sign.
“He is super tame and lives largely as a pet and part of a team used for public handling, displays, talks and education.”
Mr Wilson said as a hand reared bird, Sox does not know how to hunt or defend himself against other predators such as sparrow hawks.
“It is quite surprising that he has been seen for so long as escaped hand reared birds usually don’t survive past around five days.
“He must have found something to eat but it has to be raw meat and fresh.
“His usual diet is chopped raw chick or mouse with fur, feather and bone.
“If found, he must not have cooked or pet food as it will stop his digestive system from working.”
Mr Wilson, who has lived in Church Crookham since 1997, said the family will not give up hope of finding Sox, but the longer time passes the more the odds are against him. He also has a number of other birds, including hawks, a falcon and kestrel.
Anyone who sees Sox can call Mr Wilson on 07810711817.