A bird of prey - thought to be a peregrine falcon or a buzzard - was rescued from the River Thames by police officers and an RNLI lifeboat crew this week.
Tower lifeboat station near Waterloo Bridge became a temporary home to a bird of prey on Thursday after police spotted the distressed bird struggling in the River Thames near Westminster Bridge.
The police officers' eyes were drawn to a group of gulls attacking something in the water and, upon closer inspection, discovered the injured bird of prey.
"PC Steve Trussler rescued the bird and brought it straight to us as our lifeboat station is situated just downriver from Westminster Bridge," says Janet Kelly, station manager at Tower RNLI.
"I must admit we were somewhat taken back – we see all manner of injuries when we launch our lifeboats to people in distress, but rarely do we get casualties of the ornithological variety. We immediately named him 'Eric', after the pet seagull that once belonged to our RNLI mascot, Stormy Stan!"
"By their very nature, lifeboat crew members are a caring bunch, so they put Eric in a cardboard box, and we immediately telephoned the RSPCA for their advice."
RSPCA animal collection officer Jill Sanders came to the lifeboat station within an hour and took the bird to an RSPCA centre in Ealing for a check-up and feeding. It is believed the bird was not seriously injured and is expected to make a full recovery.
Will Ellwood, helm at Tower RNLI lifeboat station, said: "We don't know how Eric got into difficulty in the first place – but we are on very strong tides at the moment which invariably causes strong eddies and currents, especially around the bridges such as Westminster.
"We're delighted to have been of assistance – although there will no doubt be a few pigeons unhappy with the successful rescue of their nemesis."
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