A lost kestrel which found itself 25 miles out at sea took a very unusual path back to shore - by perching on a yacht sailor’s shoulder.
Carol Raffe, 57, from Crowfield, was sailing to the Suffolk coast from Holland with husband Max, 55, when she felt a tapping on her neck.
She turned and saw the large bird of prey - normally only found on dry land - staring back at her.
The kestrel, which they nicknamed Lucky, then hopped onto the deck of the boat before becoming spooked and taking off again.
But the bird could only circle the mast once before it dropped into the water out of exhaustion.
Lucky managed to clamber onto the yacht where it sat with its new sailing mates for four hours, until they reached the shore.
Their feathered friend eventually left the 30ft Cornish Pilot Cutter as Carol and Max came into the mouth of the River Deben.
Carol, an occupation therapist said: “There was nothing in sight except the nearby wind farm. So I was completely stunned when the bird landed my shoulder.
“We just could not work out how a land bird was so far out at sea.
Max, who is a local Scout leader and works as a technical designer for BT, said he was completely amazed when the bird landed on his wife’s shoulder.
He said: “I could not believe it. It is odd to see a bird of prey so far out to see but for it to land on my wife’s shoulder completely out of the blue is just incredible.
“There was a strong easterly wind at the time so we think it must have been blown out to sea from the Suffolk coat.
“It would have died if our boat was not there. You hear about these stories out at sea but you never think they will happen to you - it was really fascinating.”
It is believed the wayward animal had been blown off course by strong easterly winds.