Birdbrain pigeon hitches lift home to Ulster
A racing pigeon hitched a lift home to Northern Ireland at the weekend after losing its bearings on the Isle of Man.
In contrast to its intrepid counterpart in the cartoon (right), this was a case of 'Start the Pigeon' rather than 'Stop the Pigeon' - and the bumbling bird eventually made it home through a combination of road and sea transport.
The confused pigeon had to be taken home to Belfast by car and ferry after it came in to land in the Isle of Man - and decided it liked the island hospitality so much it wanted to stay.
In the end, it took an appeal on Manx Radio for the pigeon to secure safe passage back across the Irish Sea. Radio journalist Howard Kane said he was contacted by a family from Douglas who had found the pigeon, complete with leg bands confirming that it had been returning to Ireland as part of a race.
"The pigeon had been taking part in a race and was blown off course and turned up on the Isle of Man," he said.
When the family contacted the owner, he asked them to feed the pigeon and take it into the countryside to be released for the final leg of the flight home.
But they soon discovered that the confused pigeon hadn't managed to make much progress towards Belfast.
"They took him into the countryside, gave him a snack and released him. But when they drove home, they found him standing on their doorstep," Mr Kane said.
"The lady must have fed him too well. So they phoned the owner again and he asked them to put it in a crate to be driven home."
The family issued a radio appeal seeking anyone who was driving back to Northern Ireland by ferry. And after a good Samaritan stepped in, the wandering pigeon finally made it back to Belfast in the boot of his car - to be met at the docks by the grateful owner.