TEENAGER Connor Bowe thought he was being attacked when he was knocked to the ground from behind during an evening run.
But when the 17-year-old, who trains at Cleadon Hills in South Shields, turned to see who had landed the blow to the back of his head, no one was there.
Then he heard a screech and saw the culprit – an eagle owl – swooping down towards him again from a nearby tree.
Frightened, the South Tyneside College student began to run, but the bird of prey continued to chase him.
Now council bosses have launched a hunt for the feathered offender.
Connor, from Westoe, South Shields, finally found sanctuary after running into a group of people who were out orienteering, who scared the owl off with torches.
He is now recovering from whiplash after the attack, which happened last Tuesday at about 7.30pm.
Connor said: “It was like a scene from a film. I couldn’t believe it. I had been jogging on the hills and was going to my step-mum’s on Quarry Lane.
“Then all of a sudden, I felt something hit the back of my head and I was knocked over.
“I had a hood up so I couldn’t see what happened. I was worried someone was attacking me, but there was no one around.
“Then I saw this huge bird, which must have been about two feet long with a huge wingspan.
“It came back for me, and I started to run. It was terrifying, I just wanted to get away, but it followed me. There was no way it was going to leave me alone.
“Thankfully, I bumped into the group who helped me, and I eventually made it back to my step-mum’s.”
Connor, who is studying towards A-levels, admits he is worried about venturing back to the hills during nightfall.
He added: “I’ve been back during the day, but there’s no way I’m going up there in the dark until that thing is caught.
“It was so scary. I’m quite tall and it knocked me off my feet. What would happen if it was a child. It’s just not safe out there.”
A spokeswoman for South Tyneside Council said they have employed a specialist to try and catch the bird.
She said: “We have had several reports about an eagle owl being in the area.
“The council has no legal responsibility to return this bird to captivity, however, in the interests of public health and safety, we have been making every effort to capture it.
“We have enlisted the help of a specialist as well as an animal sanctuary.”