Commuters are being warned not to take fright at the latest recruit at Oxford railway station -- a giant plastic owl.

The owl, who has not been named, has been brought in to tackle a sticky problem on platform three, pigeons and their excrement.

But by the time the owl arrived in Oxford, the troublesome pigeon family, it appears, had taken flight.

Oxford station manager Irwin Becke said: "We are keeping the owl, just in case the pigeons return."

Thames Trains, which runs Oxford station, has a flock of 20 giant plastic owls, most of which live at the train depot in Reading.

Thames Trains spokesman Jonathan Radley said: "He's our secret weapon.

"They were making a lot of mess at Reading and we didn't want the same problem at Oxford.

"But, by the time the owl arrived, they had gone. He may go back to Reading eventually."