Exclusive: Interview with Daventry train driver who carried owl for over 175 miles

Nathan Beahen
Nathan Beahen

The Daventry Express has got to the bottom of a story which made the national headlines by speaking to the Daventry train driver who found an owl had hitched a 175-mile ride on the back of his engine.

Nathan Beahan, from Baler Close on Daventry’s Lang Farm estate, drove the 1,700ft (518m) freight train from Crewe to DIRFT near Crick where workers discovered the tawny owl perched between his Class 66 locomotive and the first wagon.

Lucky the Owl with Rosie Clinton, assistant manager of the wildlife sanctuary

Lucky the Owl with Rosie Clinton, assistant manager of the wildlife sanctuary

Father-of-two Mr Beahan said: “The train was going from Mossend near Glasgow at 08.30 to the Malcolm Group depot at DIRFT for 17.30. The loco was changed at Crewe which is where I picked it up, so any bird at the back of the engine at that time would have been spotted. The train then stopped for about 15 minutes at Carnforth, near Morecombe, and logically that’s the only time the owl could have landed.

“That gap is a pretty cold and windy place to be when the train’s moving. It’s not really protected at all.

“The train travels at up to 75mph, so it gets windy. The owl must have been buffeted by the wind. And he was near the engine too so it wasn’t quiet either.

“We got to DIRFT and as someone from Malcolm Group went between the loco and the first wagon, this owl turned and stared at him, startling him so much he jumped back. The poor owl was dazed and stunned and wasn’t moving when the staff found him.”

The owl had not been trapped, but the force of the wind from the speeding train had made it impossible for him to fly off his perch.

The workers, who named the bird Lucky, contacted the Nuneaton and Warwickshire Wildlife Sanctuary, who took him in. Lucky was diagnosed with slight wing damage and a bit of concussion.

He is expected to be paired with another tawny owl and released back into the wild next week.

Mr Beahan, 30, works for Direct Rail Services, based in Carlisle, and is their only driver from Daventry.

He said: “I might take my son up to see Lucky at the sanctuary before he gets released!”

His company has now decided to donate £200 to the wildlife sanctuary.