Skip to main content

South American bird 'nests' at English golf course

updated 9:43 AM EDT, Thu April 24, 2014
A rhea like this one pictured is on the run near a golf course in County Hertfordshire, England. A rhea like this one pictured is on the run near a golf course in County Hertfordshire, England.
HIDE CAPTION
Rhea nests on golf course
Rhea nests on golf course
Rhea nests on golf course
Rhea nests on golf course
Rhea nests on golf course
<<
<
1
2
3
4
5
>
>>
STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • A large flightless bird has escaped from the town of Pelham, England
  • Attempts to track it down have led to a golf course five miles away
  • Members have spotted four-foot-tall creature dashing across greens and fairways

Follow us at @WorldSportCNN and like us on Facebook

(CNN) -- It's a sport made up of birdies and eagles, so perhaps it's no surprise that a large South American flightless bird has found a home away from home at a rural English golf club.

The rhea -- similar in appearance to an ostrich -- disappeared from a pen at its owner's home five weeks ago in the town of Brent Pelham in Hertfordshire.

Attempts to track it down are focused on the area surrounding Barkway Park Golf Club near the town of Royston, roughly five miles away.

With its top speed approaching 40 miles per hour, catching the four-foot-tall rhea, which has been spotted dashing along the greens and fairways, sounds like a task too far for even sprinter Usain Bolt.

But local golfers and staff at Barkway aren't too concerned.

Hold still! Golfer tries dangerous shot
Gary Player on the Masters
Secret behind the 'Bubba Long'

Many have welcomed media who have descended on the club and taken to snapping pictures of the rhea when it appears from the miles of fields surrounding the 18-hole course.

"We've had everybody and his brother down here," said one senior member who asked not to be named for fear of being bombarded with media requests.

"The greenkeepers have had little videos on (their) phones and they've sold them.

"Obviously it's a bird that's escaped and it's all over the place. It's not in one particular place."

Animal welfare charity the RSPCA has been reportedly warning members of the public about approaching the rhea, stating that the birds have extremely sharp claws and the potential to be dangerous if they feel threatened.

But not all are convinced of the danger.

"The papers have made it a man-killer, it's ridiculous what they are saying," said the Barkway member, referring to alarmist stories that have appeared in print and on television segments.

"It's not dangerous in any way, shape or form. They (media) have made all that up. If you get within about 20 or 30 yards of it, it just runs away. If you cornered it in some way it might turn on you but that happens with anything."

Dangerous or not, what plans are in place to catch the runaway bird?

"They can't capture it, they don't even know how," the Barkway member said.

Unless, that is, the birds and the bees play a helping hand.

"It's a female, as it happens, but the only way you're going to catch is if you've got a male," the golfer said.

"When it comes into the mating season and the male starts doing whatever it does, then you'll (apparently) be alright."

See also: Hornets attack golfer

Read: This eagle is king of the birdies

ADVERTISEMENT
Part of complete coverage on
updated 10:49 AM EDT, Mon October 13, 2014
There have been many dark days for Oliver Wilson, but golf's unluckiest loser is finally riding an upward swing of his career roller coaster.
updated 12:48 PM EDT, Tue October 7, 2014
They dress like it's the 1930s and they swing antique equipment that eschews cutting-edge technology -- this is hickory golf.
updated 12:09 PM EDT, Mon September 15, 2014
CNN's Living Golf focuses on women's golf, charting the growth of the sport from royal pastime to multi-million dollar machine.
updated 4:46 AM EDT, Wed October 1, 2014
"I don't know how to paint happy," says golf's poster girl Michelle Wie. "I think it releases a lot of the darker feelings in me."
updated 8:13 AM EDT, Mon September 29, 2014
Phil Mickelson of the United States talks during a press conference after the United States were defeated by Europe after the Singles Matches of the 2014 Ryder Cup on the PGA Centenary course at the Gleneagles Hotel on September 28, 2014 in Auchterarder, Scotland.
If you're a U.S. golf fan, or Tom Watson, look away now.
updated 7:18 PM EDT, Thu September 25, 2014
A ban on uploading social media pictures from the course at Gleneagles was dropped for the Ryder Cup.
updated 6:52 AM EDT, Wed September 24, 2014
A spot of shopping, the odd spa day and some serious flag waving. Welcome to the life of a Ryder Cup WAG.
updated 9:01 AM EDT, Tue September 23, 2014
Tom Watson has learned plenty in the 21 years since he was last U.S. Ryder Cup captain, but social media is proving to be problematic.
updated 8:43 AM EDT, Mon September 22, 2014
Patriotism will reach fever pitch when the USA and Europe collide in golf's Ryder Cup ... and it looks like Rickie Fowler has let it go to his head.
updated 9:42 AM EDT, Mon September 22, 2014
Pressure is inescapable in the cauldron of Ryder Cup competition -- pressure and ping pong.
updated 7:50 AM EDT, Tue September 23, 2014
Millions of golf fans were watching on television with great anticipation. All Martin Kaymer could think about was getting his phone out.
ADVERTISEMENT