Short Toed Eagle, Ashdown Forest, East Sussex. Sunday 22nd June 2014.

Posted: June 24, 2014 in Birding, Rochdale, Twitching
Tags: , , , ,

A few day’s before a family holiday is not the ideal time to go rushing off on a twitch at the other end of the country, now is it? So when a Short Toed Eagle was first seen in Hampshire and later in East Sussex, I thought I will have to miss that one, even after a couple of my fellow A Team birder friends had tried to tempt me to go (try harder next time boys) You cannot believe how I felt upon returning to the UK, late on Friday, to find that the Short Toed Eagle was still present in Ashdown Forest, East Sussex. Whilst unpacking, washing, cleaning house, gardening and shopping a few texts where secretly sent and a team assembled for an early dash Sunday morning, after first obtaining permission from my “understanding” wife. At two am we got into Chris B’s car with Steve B,Steve K & myself, only, “bird of prey man” Bob was missing from a full A Team trip! Heading along the M62, M6, M40, M25 and finally onto the M23, East Grinstead and into the Ashdown Forest area. At this point we struggled to find the “Long” car park, but as a few other birders arrived we realised we were in the right place. This area is really beautiful and certainly not like “Up North”. A few Tree Pipit’s and Stonechat’s were seen, but no birds of prey, so after about an hour we decided to go to the Gills Lap car park area were, we were told, quite a few birders were present. A check of the bird news revealed the bird was sat in tree waiting for us, put your foot down driver time. As we arrived a gathering of around 60 birders were watching something! A birder told us the Short Toed Eagle was sat on top of a tree at the other side of the valley, what joy, a bird that was seen by one of our departed birder friends on Scilly a few years ago, could finally be enjoyed by us all now! Truly amazing to be lucky enough to see one of the most charismatic eagles of the Western Palearctic right here in England. As it was a “lifer” for all our group the customery hand shakes were exchanged. The bird took to the air after about 20 minutes and gave great flight views, especially right over our heads! It gained height and disappeared out of the valley (not to be seen again until Tuesday morning). A couple of Red Kite’s and a single Honey Buzzard along with a couple of Common Buzzard’s made up the impressive bird of prey list! The people that live or visit this area are truly impressed by its natural beauty, as we were. After the very early start we all began to feel a bit “jaded” and we decided after a little stop in Crawley to head for home. We all got home around five pm and enjoyed the sunshine that had made the day very special.

Dave O.

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