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Sunday, 22 June 2014

Short-toed Eagle at Ashdown Forest & Lesser Emperor at Filby

The crack Scottish team was re-assembled for a twitch down to Ashdown Forest for the ST eagle, John H, Tim H, Tony S & myself. I reached John's at midnight and we drove through the night to Gill's Lap car park at Ashdown Forest in west Sussex. An absolutely stunning place we stopped near hear in the dark and I heard churring Nightjar. At Gill's lap car park there was the spectacular vista of looking over the valley. During our watch from first light, we also heard churring Nightjar here plus we heard purring Turtle Dove and they were eventually seen, 2 Turtle Dove perched in a distant dead tree. Bullfinches were heard too. Just after 8am, a young lady birder said there's a raptor coming in from the right and sure enough a pale Eagle sized bird soared in low and perched in the top of spine tree, it was the magnificent 2nd summer Short- toed Eagle. It showed mouse- brown upper parts and very pale whitish below with brown streaks around the upper breast and the a few on the outer edge of the wing coverts. It sat in this distant tree just down from the ridge. It then flew down to another pine tree in the valley, we walked down to get a closer view. It sat here for a while before flying around, sometimes soaring around, hovering briefly and also using its tail as a rudder kite- like as it flew. It flew up to a pine on the ridge and then flew right someway, again seeing its tail used a rudder, another brief hover before it perched on top of another Pine. It spent some 20 minutes sat here until a Carrion Crow and 2 Magpie mobbed it and it flew further away and out of sight. We then drove down the road a mile and parked at Old Lodge car park, walking down we saw a close young Wood Lark in the long grass, although no time to photograph it as we were on a strict time limit. By some Pines to the right a fine male Redstart was seen feeding a juvenile Redstart. walking around the path we checked the pools and then went down a steep hill to an area where they were too interconnected pools with a wooden foot bridge in between. Almost immediately I was aware of 2 flying Odonata, a Four- spotted Chaser and another mysterious one. Whilst by the footbridge, a superb male Beautiful Demoiselle was seen. I then got my bins onto the other Odonata, it was an Emerald and looking at it my first impression was of dazzling Christmas light it was that dazzling, surely a Brilliant Emerald. It spent all its time in flight switching between the pools and often flying around the more shaded area. It then settled briefly in grass the other side where 3 birders sat carefully. By looking at the featured photographed them we were able to eliminate Downy E. I was never able to see it completely at rest as it often flew after a short rest. Walking back we saw by a pool first a Keeled Skimmer that showed well and a Small Red- eyed Damselfly although I didn't look at it for too long because of the heat. In the afternoon after we got back I drove straight to Filby Broad, looking along the boardwalk, 2 Fisherboys were constantly casting every 5 seconds far from ideal to see the intended target, but at 4.10am, after sighting 1 or 2 unidentified Hawkers and both Norfolk & Brown Hawker, another Hawker was seen circling around the NE tip of the Broad the water directly in front of the far eastern end of the Boardwalk it flew my way and looking down on it, I could clearly see the blue saddle at the base of the abdomen, a fine male Lesser Emperor, but as it flew past the boys, their tiresome casting almost hit and it swerved out of the way, it appeared to want to fly around the western end of the boardwalk but the casting forced it to fly strongly west. In the evening I went down to Hamilton road and saw the colourful escaped Red-rumped Parakeet calling a strange high pitched call from the roof of Pryce's building. The bird has been around this area and Battery Green for a week or so, an escaped bird but I was still keen to see it.A load of Starling flew by the hangar and the fine Rose- coloured Starling was seen amongst them, it flew to railings and then remained faithful to one Starling as they both flew to a light by the wind turbine. They spent around 20 minutes here before finally flying past us, the RC Starling had a more fluttery flight, and then dropped down by the Helicopter hangar area in the harbour.

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