Wednesday, June 18, 2014

Short-toed Eagle

Short-toed Eagle
On the 8th June 2014 I headed down to the New Forest on a twitch for a Short-toed Eagle. This individual and mega rare bird was first seen in Dorset and had moved over to Hampshire. The only records Ive heard about were on Scilly, Guernsey and Jersey. So, I believe, this is the first mainland record. En-route the bird went missing then reappeared at Hatchet Pond. Unfortunately, on arrival, I had missed the bird by a few minutes. 15 minutes later a car pulled up and reported a hawk in a tree down the road. 2 minutes later I was looking at a 'light phased' Common Buzzard!? I decided to bin my twitch and head to Acres Down and look for Honey Buzzard.

Acres Down - Honey Buzzard watch point - Hampshire
A 3 hour vigil at Acres Down produced many Common Buzzard but no Honey Buzzard. I did, however, get great looks at Goshawk so no complaints!

Mooney and Force celebrating the eagle twitch!
One week later on the 15th June 2014 Nolan and I headed to Ashdown Forest in Sussex where the eagle had last been reported. Ashdown Forest consists of the same habitat as the previous sites; heathland. Good for lizards and snakes; the favored diet of Short-toed Eagles. It just so happened that my good friend Mike Force (see previous post) was visiting an old pal in Seaford and they also decided to go for the bird! 

Nolan and dad on another twitch
   Nolan and I initially met up with Mike and Jon Curson at the Gills Lap car park but soon realized, as with the rest of the crowd, that the eagle had yet again disappeared. The heads of the last to arrive (i.e. us) dropped. But not for long. A buzz quickly spread through the crowd  and like a heard of spooked wildebeest, people started running for their cars.."IT'S SHOWING WELL AT LONG CAR PARK!!" Not having a clue where that was we just followed the convoy; slicing the country lanes (possibly a wrong turn or two) until we arrived on site. 

Most of the birding tribe were already there when Nolan and I walked along the main path and were obviously looking at something. We picked the pace up. We ran! A few frantic pointed directions later and we were looking at a SHORT-TOED EAGLE!!

Short-toed Eagle

We again hooked up with Mike and Jon and all wallowed in this mega rarity. It posed for some time up in a pine until finally taking flight and circling, giving us all crippling views! What an absolutely fitting end to what has been an amazing month. As I write this Mike Force is somewhere over Canada; heading home. He will be missed by friends and family here in England but he gets to take home a wealth of adventures and memories. Until our next adventure Mr. Force....CHEERS!!!!

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