Merlin. Copy Permitted.
I've had a couple of recent encounters with the Merlin my favourite of all the raptors, and both these sightings have been at Cockersands. I had suspected a Merlin here on Thursday 15 November when I caught a glimpse of a small bird of prey, but not seen enough to be convinced of the ID before it disappeared from view. But two weeks later one came into view as I scanned from the caravan park at Cockersands, the bird was perched on a post at mid distance giving great views, the kind of sight that cannot possibly fail to excite me, even more so when it appears as you pan your telescope and unexpectedly 'bingo' a Merlin. A special moment and possibly the bird I'd seen two weeks earlier, but whatever, at least one Merlin wintering here in the Cockersands area and possibly two....excellent.
Eleven days later - again at Cockersands - on Monday 10 December I found another Merlin, this one was an even better surprise than the last one as I was only giving a final glance over the area around Plover Scar as I got back to my car to go home when I saw this small bird through my binoculars perched on the rail around the lighthouse, with the telescope it was a Merlin and reasonable to suggest the same bird seen on my previous visit here.
As I watched this smallest of our falcons, a bird which - given certain circumstances of viewing - can be mistaken for a Mistle Thrush, it being the same size - 26cm in length - though slightly bigger in body, I couldn't help but think what a lonely and detached life from everything else this bird lives. As a youngster once its ties with the parents are severed, with the exception of a short breeding season in its years it leads a life alone with no association's with any other birds save the ones it hunts as prey in order to survive. This bird certainly looked very alone in the world perched out there on a small lighthouse in the Lune Estuary going dark on a bitterly cold evening at dusk.
So these two Merlin sightings represented to me the ultimate in the excitement of never knowing what you'll see next, and in the case of the latter of these two for me, a better way to end a days local birding I can't imagine....the sleek, swift, and silent killer the Merlin.
I did a little more on the Merlin in a previous post, if you think it might interest you and you've not seen it before, its HERE