DUBAI // A drone enthusiast was brought back down to earth when his gadget was attacked by a bird of prey.
The remote-controlled device was flying above Jumeirah Park when it encountered a falcon.
The bird, possibly mistaking the rotor-powered drone as an adversary or a meal, locked its talons into the device and took it down in front of an astonished onlooker.
Lukas Franciszek, from Poland, was out for a stroll last week with his wife and 16-month-old baby when he saw the drone hovering.
“We looked up and there was a drone, and I told my wife that we should move away,” said the resident of four years.
“We walked two or three metres and then heard a whizzing noise and a thump. As I turned around, I saw the drone going down and a bird right after it.”
The drone crashed into the garden of an elderly Arab woman, whom Mr Franciszek approached to notify of the incident.
“She didn’t speak English very well, so she telephoned her husband, and he asked me to check out the situation,” said Mr Franciszek.
“We walked in, and we saw the drone on the ground but no bird was in sight. However, when I came close, I saw a big bird sitting on a plant pot and realised it was a falcon.
“I was looking at the bird, it was looking at me. We had a little stare-off.”
As Mr Franciszek approached the drone, the falcon rushed and perched on the device.
“He was looking at me as if to tell me: ‘Hey, back off. This is mine. I hunted it’,” he said.
Mr Franciszek then took a photo of the bird, which he later posted on social media.
The owner of the drone arrived and said that the falcon, which was tagged, did not belong to him.
It is not clear to whom the falcon belonged but social media users who commented on Mr Franciszek’s picture said it belongs to a Dubai man.
Eventually, the falcon flew away, leaving Mr Franciszek and the others dumbfounded by the bizarre events.
Mitchell Olivier, a falcon handler at Arabian Adventures, said drones are often used to train falcons.
“It’s obvious that this bird belonged to somebody, and it is unlikely that the falcon would attack the drone for no reason,” he said. “It most probably associated the drone with food.
“The way drones are used to train falcons is that the handler would put a lure, a string, with a piece of meat or a bunch of feathers tied together, to train the bird. Once they tear off the lure off the drone, the falcon will be rewarded.”
Mr Olivier said that it is difficult to say exactly what happened in this case, adding: “What I can tell is that the bird must have associated it with food, and then left it when there was no food.”
He said there are cases of handlers training their birds to go after the drone itself but that is something that can work out very costly.
“When you’re training a falcon, you have to get them used to the drone, or it can scare them away,” he said. “They’re not going to attack it like that. He was most probably trained with a drone.”
More: It's not unusual for birds of prey to attack drones. Watch these videos of an eagle knocking one out of the sky in Australia and a hawk attacking one in Cambridge, Massachusetts: