Sunday, 10 April 2011

Even smaller raptor: Merlin over garden

More of the same again - fantastic hot sunny weather, plenty of time in the garden and raptors overhead. Today's haul, espied between bouts of gardening and barbecuing, included a single Peregrine moving North, a couple of Common Buzzards moving around in circles, a female Sparrowhawk moving rapidly through the garden in search of prey, and this Merlin (sixth species of raptor over the garden this month!) watched powering northwards at 2:30pm. Fairly high up (the pics are big crops) watched through bins, then photographed and then scoped until it disappeared from view over the city still powering North. (Does everyone do the gardening with a scope set up?...).

It is now clear that a Merlin overhead last August was not the one-off that I thought it was at the time. Here is a shot of the August individual harrassing a Common Buzzard in the typical pugnacious fashion of the species.

[See Hawks in Flight: The Flight Identification of North American Migrant Raptors "Merlins are usually solitary... and will frequently go out of their way to harass other birds in migration. A Merlin's aggressive behaviour may be used as a field identification point and as a means of identification. At Cape May, high-flying Merlins are usually detected because they are harassing another raptor."]

Other sightings today included a Brambling, 2 Waxwings and a Redpoll over the garden - a wintry selection for such a summer-like day. Also, at least 3 Goosanders up at Alnwickhill Water Treatment Works.

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