29 June 2014
The Short-toed Eagle seemed to have settled into a routine again this week around the Wych Cross area, and showed occasionally from the path south of Long Car Park on Saturday. The weather and sightings suggested it might have roosted again in the area and with the sun predicted to shine on Sunday morning I couldn't resist another attempt to see this stunning bird of prey.
I arrived quite early and wandered down the path. It was quite overcast and quite cool, but the views across Ashdown Forest were superb. A pair of Linnet, a surprising Reed Bunting, and two Skylark serenaded me. A group of birders were gathering a few hundred metres along the path, but I continued until I reached an isolated patch of pine trees. I saw a photographer drop down to the left so I followed him down finding an area with nice views across a clearing. I carefully scanned the trees but there was no sign of the Eagle. A couple of young Green Woodpeckers and a Stonechat kept me entertained while I stood alone overlooking the clearing. I quite liked the view and decided to hang around to see what might appear. It was still early, about 09:15, and I figured the Eagle might not appear for another hour. Then as I looked up I caught sight of something flapping out of the trees on the far side and crossing the clearing - instantly I realised it was the Short-toed Eagle. I got some fantastic views in the scope as it flew low through the isolated trees.
|The Short-toed Eagle flaps across the clearing|
|The Short-toed Eagle perches in the open|
The Eagle circled high and drifted around searching for breakfast, and after five minutes dropped back down into the back of the trees bordering the clearing. Unfortunately it was not visible. I had a look for a Woodlark that began singing further down the path, but it stopped before I could locate it and I walked back to the hill. Just as I arrived someone found the Eagle sat distantly in the top of a tree. After a few minutes a couple of marauding Magpies encouraged it to take to the air. It circled high over the wood then drifted back towards us, before starting to hunt along the ridge. It spent some time hovering into the wind giving great scope views from below; its legs acting as a counter balance keep it stationary while it searched for snakes.
|The Eagle glides over at height|
|Hovering while hunting|
|Legs counter balancing, tail spread|
|A young Common Redstart|
|Small Red Damselfy|
|Small Red Damselfly - eating its prey|
|Broad-bodied Chaser exuvia|
|Golden Ringed Dragonfly|
|Golden Ringed Dragonfly|
|Close up of the Golden Ringed Dragonfly eating a Bee|
|And even closer|