Wednesday, 7 April 2010

Sea Eagle!!!

You never know quite what you're going to see at Tophill. This morning I was hoping to catch the willow tit or maybe a brambling as I went to fill the feeders in 'D' woods at 10:15. I was just about to set off back from the new pond when I heard the black-headed gulls making a commotion over the trees - passing osprey? - A likely bet. The bird and its followers appeared - wings too thick for osprey - "big heron?...hang on - that white tailed eagle was reported at Flamborough a few days ago - no it could'nt be could it?". By this stage the sea eagle was passing 50 feet over my head. Huge primaries and the grey/yellow hook bill with the shear size showing it was nothing else. I stood gob-smacked only remembering the camera in my pocket too late - which in the time it had fired up the bird had moved over the tree line again. A sprint to East hide revealed a few harassed black-heads circling but no eagle. A run up to North Marsh Hide was made to speak to the couple who had also seen it drift in from the North East (the kingfisher back outside the hide again was ignored). By the time I got down to the southern site regular Mr Richardson was returning from his five minute view as it had circled the marshes, before flying off towards Hornsea with every gull on the site and a marsh harrier pursuing it.

When I arrived I was in time to see the 200 strong squadron of black-headed gulls pictured clearly congratulating each other on their successful dispatch of the scariest thing they'd seen - some re-enacting their exploits on an unfortunate shelduck! A group of 7 pink-footed geese pictured close in and good numbers of swallows and sand martins were some consolation.

Further investigation revealed the bird is a re-introduced from the East Scotland programme (see link) in 2008 and sports a radio transmitter. It had first appeared in England on the 31st of March in Northumberland where lucky observer Alan Tilmouth got photos of the same bird viewable on his blog here. It was then seen passing flamborough on the 4th of April - amazingly the bird has spent 3 days in East Yorks wihout being seen!. This constitutes a first for Tophill Low.

Finally the BTO challenge page above has now been updated with this quarters results.