We were on evening association - our recreation time - loitering around a window on the top landing. Talking balls, probably, when an owl flitted out of the darkness, through the window, and perched on the radiator.
What do you do...? It just sat there, bobbing its head and looking at us. It didn't seem overly impressed or interested. Not one to miss an opportunity. Bob held out his arm. The owl hopped on - and gripped tight. Bob squealed like a girl and shooed the owl off; wrapping his arm in a towel, he invited it back on.
This was a very strange owl, utterly content to allow us to stroke it and generally oh-and-ah. We were allowed budgies, so why not an owl? A fair reasoning, which saw us take the owl into a cell.
Only then did it spread its wings. In a tiny cell, what seemed to be a smallish bird transformed into a flippin' eagle, and no longer a happy one at that. It began to flap around the cell -six foot square, already crowded with four convicts, and it seemed on the verge of panic.
Which is exactly when it decided to land on my head. If you have never handled an owl, you won't appreciate the size and sharpness of their talons. Neither did I until that moment, when its weight settled on top of my head and several razor sharp claws dug into my forehead and scalp. "For God's sake, don't panic it".
In the end, we calmed it down and it was collected by the RSPB. It was an interesting experience, and it went far better than other encounters with wildlife in prison. A couple of years ago, a screw at Erlestoke got savaged by a badger!