EAGLED-eyed residents helped a resourceful bird of prey and much-loved family pet return home after she went missing for nine days.

Jay and Emma Poulter feared the worst when their three-year-old gyr-saker falcon Comet flew the nest from their home in Carus Crescent, Highwoods, Colchester.

However, after an appeal in the Gazette, dozens of readers reported sightings of the majestic animal flying in the skies across the borough.

Comet, who has been trained by experienced falconer Jay for two years, was eventually located in Wivenhoe after landing on a shocked resident’s balcony.

Mrs Poulter said: “On Monday Jay was feeding the other birds in the aviaries when my phone started ringing.

“It was a lady who had spotted her in Fingringhoe.

“Apparently she had flown into a gentleman’s conservatory and caused him a bit of a fright.

“Ten minutes later another lady contacted me through Facebook saying her mum had found a falcon in Wivenhoe.

“Apparently the lady was walking her dog by the water where she lives and she saw her flying along the river front and then she landed on the balcony of her house.”

With the help of her husband and daughter, the quick-thinking resident managed to keep Comet in place and contact Mr and Mrs Poulter, who raced off to try to retrieve her.

“We arrived in Wivenhoe at around 7.15pm and she was still there,” Mrs Poulter said.

“Jay called out to her and as soon as she heard her name she turned her head and started to ruffle her feathers.

“He called her name again and she flew straight to his glove.

“She knew exactly who he was and seemed to be excited to see him.”

Although dirty and a little disorientated, Comet seemed to be in good health and had managed to fend for herself over her extended holiday.

In fact, one gentleman in St John’s Road, Colchester, saw the Middle Eastern bird’s hunting prowess first hand when she caught a pigeon in his garden.

Across her incredible nine-day adventure Comet was spotted by refuse collectors on their morning round in Brightlingsea, flying above farmers’ fields in Boxted and Langham and rustling in the bushes less than a mile away from her Highwoods home.

Mrs Poulter said: “She was probably trying to find her way home because it seemed like she was circling around the Colchester area.

“It was such a relief when we finally saw her because of the number of times she had been seen in places but by the time we arrived we had just missed her.

“Seeing her perched on that balcony was amazing.”

She added: “If it hadn’t been for the article in the paper we would not have managed to find her.

“We have to say a huge thank you to all of the public as well for contacting us with sightings and information. We really wouldn’t have found her with everyone’s help.”

READ MORE: Falcon missing after flying the nest from her Colchester home