Saturday, 21 June 2014

Gills Lap Dancing

A trip to Ashdown Forest with Brendan, Dave and Ephraim. We left the Watford area about 07:30 and arrived at Gills Lap car park sometime after 09:00. On route reports were that our target bird a Short-toed Eagle was perched in some pines. We parked up in Gills Lap car park and were unloading our optics when we were informed the Short-toed Eagle had left it's perch and was flying. This news of course had us running down the road. We soon connected with the Eagle in flight as it searched for prey. It swooped down and came up with a fair size snake and we watched as it slowly swallowed the snake while still on the wing. Then it perched up fairly distantly, perhaps to digest it's catch? Then after a while it was up again and again it swooped down to the ground and came up with something smaller, maybe a slowworm or lizard. Then same again it perched up for a while before performing the same routine once more. The Eagle then left it's perch and flew, this time it flew out of sight and after a bit of a wait we decided it was lunchtime. We had a team meeting to decide where to go next, but instead of heading off we decided to hang around to see if the Short-toed Eagle put in another appearance or perhaps catch sight of a Honey Buzzard. But first a visit to the ice cream van, thanks Brendan! Sitting in the shade and eating ice cream the Short-toed Eagle was spotted distantly and gaining height. Then not long after it was reported from the Long car park on the A22. As we were quite comfortable sitting in the shade eating ice cream we decided not to chase the Eagle but maybe wait to see if it flew back to Gills Lap. However, as we had finished our ice creams and the Short-toed Eagle was reported as "showing well" perched in a pine from the Long car park, we made our way over. We joined the large number of already assembled birders and had good views of the Short-toed Eagle as it perched in the top of a pine. It then left it's perch and flew around, this time offering good flight views. It then disappeared out of site and roughly back in direction of Gills Lap car park. We didn't chase it this time but hung around where we were but no luck with Honey Buzzard.  Great bird and nice ice cream.

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