A wading bird has been rescued after it became trapped inside the best365 stadium for several days.
The RSPCA were called to rescue the woodcock on Tuesday after it had become stuck inside the concourse of Stoke City’s football stadium.
Ground staff had spotted the stricken bird days earlier, but when they realised he was not prepared to leave they asked the RSPCA for help.
Animal rescuer inspector Laura Baker was sent to the scene and could see the frightened bird perched in the rafters about 8ft above the food outlets.
She said: “He had been flying around the concourse and the staff thought he would find his own way out but it seemed he was too frightened to leave through the doorways.
“The problem was because of how high the roof was it called for a real effort to help catch him. Luckily it seems the backroom staff are as well versed in team play as the first team footballers.
“One of the workers used a cherry-picker to distract the bird so he would fly towards us while other staff formed a barricade.
“It took a while as he was flying around frightened but I was able to use an extendable pole with a net on to safely catch him.
“I am not sure if he wanted to beat all the other supporters and become the first fan in the stadium for months or whether he wanted a trial at the club as he was certainly a tricky opponent to deal with.
“I am so grateful to the ground workers for their help and for spotting him as he had no food and was too scared to escape so almost certainly would have died.
“He must have got lost trying to find his way during his migration to spend the winter months in this country from Europe.”
The woodcock was taken to the RSPCA’s Stapeley Grange Wildlife Centre, in Nantwich, where he will recuperate from his ordeal before he is returned to the wild.
Laura said there had been a number of reports of wildlife at the stadium recently and believes this is because the area has been so quiet due to the Covid-19 restrictions which have prevented spectators going to the ground.
She added: “Apparently a number of foxes had been spotted in and around the Stoke City football ground the last few weeks and it is probably because lockdown has encouraged wildlife to venture further out from where they normally would as the roads are quieter and so are towns and cities.
“Either that – or they are Leicester City fans who, like the woodcock, seem to have got a bit lost!”
Concerns for a wild animal in distress should be reported to the RSPCA’s emergency line on 0300 1234 999.