Giant bird on the run near Crowborough

A RUNAWAY Rhea fluffed up a few feathers on Sunday morning.

Taig (10) and Tea (six) were on top of the 29 bus half way between Crowborough and Uckfield when they saw what they thought was an ostrich running ahead of them southwards down the main A26.

Martin Haymes, escaped Rhea in Crowborough.

Martin Haymes, escaped Rhea in Crowborough.

The giant bird appeared from the left hand side of the road. The bus braked and oncoming traffic swerved as he almost got knocked by a car, headed into the verge then ran right across the road again, disappearing into fields on the right hand side.

The enterprising twosome’s dad managed to capture alarming images of the renegade runaway on their mobile phone and posted the pictures on youtube: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=do7sEj4PPlg

Frantic calls from the Sussex Express newsroom failed to find any ostrich farms in East Sussex – or even any information about a lost pet ostrich.

Then helpful folk at the Ashdown Forest Llama Park hinted they knew where the baffling bird might have come from and another call to a Crowborough address yielded the information we were looking for.

The Rhea, (not an ostrich after all) lived in a 25 acre paddock with about 20 fellow Rheas at Crowborough Warren.

Owner Martin Haymes also keeps swans and peafowl.

He told us: “We don’t farm them, we keep them for pleasure.

“I am desperate for news of this one. It was last seen in Cackle Street, although I’ve had reports from Old Forge Lane, Hartfield and elsewhere across the Forest. They are becoming more and more Houdini like. I think this one has alpha male syndrome and was probably battling for supremacy with the other males.”

He would very much like to have his Rhea back and went on: “The best way to catch him is to get him into an enclosure or a garden and shut the gate. They don’t tend to jump very high. I would then come out after dark, sneak up on him and throw a blanket over him.”

And he’s pleading with Express readers: “If you see him just ring me and let me know where he is.”

You can reach Martin on: 01892 654778. Picture page 1. See our astonishing video of Martin and his collection of creatures on: www.sussexexpress.co.uk