Sunday, 15 June 2014

The Eagle has landed!

I missed the Short-toed Eagle in Dorset due to family commitments the day it roosted and couldn't get down to Hampshire to connect either then a bird (seemingly a different bird) is reported in Essex but isn't tied down so when another is reported this morning I'm quick on the blower to the Jims to arrange the trip.
Ten minutes later I'm in the car heading towards the M25 with one Jim (The old fella opted out). We make the 60 mile journey in good time despite leafy lanes and a brief hunt for diesel which was a bit too close to a dry tank for my liking but we made it.
Short-toed Eagle in Ashdown Forest East Sussex
Arriving at Ashdown Forest we found the hill car park that the bird had been reported from and a small group of birders including Harry and Mick D. A couple of Common Buzzard were seen here before we headed off in search of a better view of the valley. We pulled into a car park near the visitor centre just as news broke that the bird was now at Long car park. We raced off in a little twitch convoy and pulled into the car park a couple of minutes later. A short walk and we find another group of c50 birders (Paul R, Gary B, Dave B to name a few) all watching empty space where the Eagle had been a few minutes earlier. Within a few minutes the shout went up....Got it!
The twitch!
The bird was sitting at the top of a pine tree right out in the open and we all managed to get on it with terrific scope views before it took to the air again circling over us as it drifted away.

Short-toed Eagle Ashdown Forest
We walked further down the track leaving most of the gathered masses behind and found a nice spot to scan the valley. After a few minutes I spotted a couple of Hobby in the distance then a Buzzard and then another birder calls it again....EAGLE! and sure enough the bird is flying over the tree tops towards us and once again circles over our heads before gaining height. A Buzzard comes up to meet it and as we scope we realise we have a Honey Buzzard, both birds had a brief interaction before drifting off and out of view.

Honey Buzzard

A terrific day and another place we'll be sure to return to.
Year list now 225 and Life list now 343 (The Eagle was my eighth lifer of the year)

The Eagle sitting in the pine (poor attempt at Phone and Scope combo)


  1. Sounds like a great day!!!! I got down to Cliffe Pools today and the Stilts and their chicks were showing really well!!! Also bagged a Spoonbill! Year list at 175!

  2. Great day would sum it up Adam.

  3. We saw the eagle interact with a mystery raptor at about 15:30-15:45, after it had reappeared and was gaining height and circling. The two birds were quite high and came together briefly before the other raptor drifted towards the A22. Perhaps this was the same bird that you saw? We aren't raptor experts, but I said at the time that it looked too long-winged and long-necked for a common buzzard. Looks like we may have seen your honey buzzard!

    1. Indeed, not a raptor expert, but we both did question it being a common buzzard. To my raptor-novice eyes, the tail looked long and straight and kind of squared off..(?) Also, the wings were held differently I thought.. They came close momentarily, before the mystery bird sort of drifted away. Does that match your view?

  4. Sounds like it Paul, we were further down the track than the main twitch and were lucky to have both the Snake Eagle and the Honey Buzzard pass over our heads....a real treat!

  5. sounds like the same bird....quite a few Common Buzzard about too and a few Hobby.