Walland Marsh - 0930hrs - mild, cloudy, nw2 - A phone call from an excited Marshman this morning necessitated a rapid change of plan for the day ahead... He`d had a phone call from a local farmer telling of a "vulture" at large on Walland; only to discover a Sea-eagle feeding on a fox carcass in a turf field by the Cheyne Court windfarm - now that`s what I call a memorable start in any day! By the time I arrived the eagle was a distant blob perched up in a small clump of trees south of the Rye road.
A brisk walk out from the Woolpack delivered much better views and as a small group of us watched from a safe distance the mighty bird shuffled its feathers, had a crap, turned into the wind and flew back towards the Rye road and over the heads of the waiting locals. We had breathtaking views of this flying monster with the double-barn-door wings, diamond shaped tail and massive pale bill; an immature bird, liberally sprinkled white on the back and breast.
We watched as it landed briefly in a field to the north of the Guldeford Levels before heading towards Oxney in Sussex (attracting the attentions of a pair of Peregrines en-route), where it eventually landed in a tree on the `Isle`. A dash around to the Rye-Appledore road delivered further views as it thermalled off the hillside with a pair of Buzzards looking like Starlings in comparison and was last seen high over Walland Marsh at about 12.30hrs
Having not seen a Sea-eagle for ages I`d forgotten just how massive they are. A superb bird and a first for the Romney Marsh apparently. Credit must go to CP for following up the lead, locating it and getting the news out quickish - well done that man. Let`s hope it sticks around so a few more birders can enjoy this magnificent raptor, which does look very much at home down here on the flatlands.
Other raptors seen on Walland this morning included a ringtail Hen Harrier, 4 Buzzards, 3 Marsh Harriers, 2 Peregrines, 2 Kestrels and a Sparrowhawk. At Midley the Bewick` s Swan flock totalled 60 and 11 Corn Buntings were by the drying barns.
ARC - 1500hrs Called in at Hanson this afternoon where the amusing sight of the GWE skating on ice! Also, 10 Smews, including a drake, 8 Goldeneyes, singles of Blackwit, Kingfisher, Bittern, Little Egret and hundreds of Wigeons, Teals, Gadwalls and Shovelers.