Merlin; The pocket rocket.

11th April 2014
The Merlin, the UK's smallest raptor is a rarely seen bird. It is a dashing and mercurial falcon seen typically on high moorland in summer where it breeds, but also at estuaries and tide lines in winter, where it terrorises shore birds.
It is a persistent hunter, pursuing it's quarry with extreme agility and relentless determination. Usually they are seen flying high on a moor chasing Skylarks or Meadow Pipits or harassing Dunlin and other small waders near the sea in winter.
Rarely, if ever, a birdwatcher gets a chance to study this stunningly beautiful bird. However, all that changed yesterday - I was watching some Pied Wagtails and Meadow Pipits feeding in a muddy field when a small bird flew through at incredible speed making a pass at the Pipits. My first thoughts were male Sparrowhawk, but I couldn't be sure because of the speed of the action. Then a few minutes later it happened again, only this time the attacker landed on a small stick poking out of a mound of earth. I was hidden behind a pile of rotting silage and the smell was, shall we say different!
The smell from the silage paled into insignificance when ten yards in front of me I was looking at a female Merlin. I realised immediately that this was a once in a lifetime opportunity, and my heart rate went up proportionally. I moved the lens a fraction of an inch at a time because she was so wary, she knew I was there, but she remained on the small stick and just stared at me. I focussed and fired the shutter, what a feeling that was! she turned her head to look around and then just took off and flew away into the distance.
What a bird!! - Please see Latest Images, Merlin.