This Eagle (in the last 3 weeks) has taken more years off me than anything else imaginable recently. I was away in Turkey and then Romania during the last 3/4 weeks and low and behold, a twitchable Short Toed Eagle makes an appearance. (Not) funnily enough, I was in the UK at this point during a short window of changing flights. Of course, to inject the pain even more, a few close mates had travelled down and were (enjoying) keeping me up to date with the latest happenings. Complete with tiredness, I wasn't in the mood for it, or for what was about to come!
The Eagle showed well that morning in Dorset, I was stuck at Manchester airport as the flight was inevitably delayed, to which in the meantime I could've driven to Dorset, ticked the eagle and driven back up (albeit, tight). It eventually flew off and that was it, at least for a while, there were reports then of probable short toed eagle sightings across the south coast; Hampshire, Sussex, Cambridgeshire and it looked like it was going to be impossible to track down. Until last week, I was in Norfolk, Short Toed Eagle in Sussex... yes, it was still a treck, but doable! I headed in that direction until 80 miles was to go and then news filtered through of there being no sign.
I wasn't in the mood for pissing around, so I headed back home as time was getting on. All week since the eagle had been showing on and off Ashdown Forest and the anxiety was building until the decision was final. I headed down with on Friday evening hoping to get it roosting and of course, it wasn't, so Saturday morning it was. Finally, after 4 weeks of hell, the raptor showed well from range.
|Short-Toed Eagle - When present in Dorset (Taken by Steff Leese)|
Occasionally perched up in a tree and also making long flights around the ridge, the Short Toed Eagle seemed pretty and fixed on the area. You couldn't beat that moment and to make things even better, it dived down and flew off with a snake and ate it whilst in the air. A truly brilliant birding experience!