Sunday, 8 June 2014

Short-toed Eagle - Bishops Dyke, Beaulieu Road Station!!! And a nice mornings birding in general.

What a superb day (8th June 2014) in the Beaulieu Road Station area I had today. I started at 06:00 at Shatterford and spent a little time watching Hobbies hunting between Shatterford and Denny Wood before heading south to Shatterford Bottom where a pair of Stonechat were feeding chicks and Woodlark and Curlew were displaying in the distance while Snipe drummed overhead. As I continued south a male Dartford Warbler showed very well singing atop a Silver Birch sapling while its mate carried food to nestlings below.

Shatterford Bottom
Great-spotted Woodpecker
Female Dartford Warbler - Shatterford Bottom

Two male Cuckoo were very vocal and conspicuous in the Silver Birch generation at the transition between the heath and Denny Wood, as I watched the Cuckoo's their attention switched between chasing one another to chasing a Buzzard which had appeared from the woodland and was flying towards the railway line. As I followed the Buzzard in my bins my attention switched to a large pale bird perched in an Oak and as I focused, there, before me was a massive pale raptor. Immediately my mind rang 'what the *** is that' and at that moment I dropped my scope to the ground to try to get some digi-shots half knowing what I was looking at without confirming it conclusively, but in my panic the settings on my camera were out and the shots were crap. The bird then flew and circled the clearing and it was evident that it was a Short-toed Eagle - bloody hell!! The pale undersides to the wings with hardly any markings on the underwing coverts with the exception of a string of black 'pearls' on the inner greater coverts and some speckling on the lesser coverts were spot on for the Dorset bird from last weekend. The bird landed out of site in a Silver Birch, I looked around me and called the only visible birder, David Cuddon. There was no sign of it from where we were viewing and so I ran back down the main path and around a bog to get the correct angle to see where it had landed. And there it was, the Dorset Short-toed Eagle last recorded on the previous Sunday! I composed myself and took some acceptable shots, called David and we watched the bird for around 40 minutes before it took off circled about 20m above our heads and then headed east towards Pig Bush. The first two birders arrived and we managed to put them onto the bird before it became a distant speck. Brilliant, I just wished I had had my SLR when it was circling overhead!

Short-toed Eagle, Bishops Dyke - 8th June 2014
This is the only picture I got of the bird in flight, taken 
through my iPhone as it was circling overhead

I then continued my walk west through the woodlands, mire and heath at Bishops Dyke but I could hardly focus on the birding at hand so after an hour or so I turned and headed back to the car. I made a short stop at Matley Bog to photograph some Southern Marsh Orchids that were visible from the road and saw good numbers of Keeled Skimmer in the bog as well as a number of the usual bog denizens. Now, off for a celebratory bevy!

Southern Marsh orchid
Round-leaved Sundew
Meadow Thistle
Agelena labyrinthica
Keeled Skimmer (teneral)