Sunday, 15 June 2014

Mega!! Short-toed Eagle Wych Cross, East Sussex

When this bird was reported perched up in a pine tree at 9:15pm on the 31st May, The thought was I either go early next morning and get there first light, or you won't see this bird.
Circumstances prevented the trip and with it went thoughts of adding this bird to my life list.

But today while sitting at home watching the cricket, the phone goes and Brian asks "do you fancy going for the Short-toed"? So within minutes I'm in the car and meeting Brian. 
As luck would have it the bird has even moved closer to home, instead of 144 miles away in Dorset, it's only 60 miles away in East Sussex.
Approaching the site the car is running on fumes, and we have to divert a few miles away from the site to finally find some diesel.
Now 9 miles away and with no news arriving on the pager for the last half hour we make our way to the last reported location.
Pulling into the car park at Gill's Gap, we find a few familiar faces scanning the surrounding valley. A remote dot away in the distance could be the target bird, but it's so far away it's impossible to tell for sure.
Mick Davis a local birder decides to head for the reserve car park further down the road, unfortunately we lose him and can't find the car park.
Reports on the pager say "immature again from Liptons and Townsend car parks". Eventually finding Liptons car park and pulling in we find a group of birders but none on the Eagle.
A phone call from a local birder See's us heading off in convoy looking for Long car park, luckily for us the locals know exactly where this car park is.

We park up and head off down the track to where a group of fifty plus birders are already assembled. We are greeted with "It was circling over our heads 5 minutes ago, but it's drifted off now". Then a shout goes up "Got it!, It's perched at the top of the tree". After a short panic to get a location of where it was perched, the scope is trained on the spot and the Eagle comes into view.

Short-toed Eagle

It's perched up on the top of a pine tree right out in the open, giving stunning scope views. After 15-20 minutes of watching the bird, it flies up and drifts off over the surrounding area.
It remains in view for a short time and then drops down behind the nearest tree line and gone from view.

We decide to head off further down the track and scan the valley and surrounding area, a couple of Hobbies appear over the distant tree line, then a Common Buzzard appears.

Another scan and the shout goes up EAGLE!, and above the tree line is the Short-toed drifting towards us. It starts to circle directly overhead giving stunning views before gaining height, another Buzzard appears and starts to briefly mob the eagle. As the scope is trained on the two birds, it becomes view that we are actually looking at an Eagle and a Honey Buzzard!

Two fantastic birds only 60 miles from home, it doesn't get much better than that?

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