February 8th   Leave a comment

I was out first thing tramping across the stubble field behind Sauchope looking for the lapland bunting of yesterday. Half of the field had been ploughed since yesterday lunchtime but it was still full of starlings, linnets, yellowhammers, skylarks and three corn buntings. No Lapland bunting but an unexpected female merlin hunting across the field in between perching on the fence posts on the edge. I noticed it initially because I heard a snatch of skylark song. Whenever you hear a skylark singing in the winter, you look for the merlin, because skylarks that are able to, sing when they are being chased. The merlins get put off by the clear evidence of the vigour of the skylark – able to sing while being chased straight upwards – and they often give up, saving both the skylark and the merlin a long and fruitless chase. The merlin was causing chaos, putting up the birds in the stubble but without any success over the half an hour it made forays over the field.

I went back in the afternoon and the merlin was still there along with a kestrel. With so many small birds concentrated in one small stubble field (and with the ploughing, getting smaller) it wouldn’t have made sense for the merlin to move on. It may have been using the plough to help its hunting. Merlins often follow behind people or horses or vehicles that might flush up otherwise cryptic birds like skylarks. Once, when I was in Kazakstan and in a van travelling through some dry steppe we had two merlins, one on either side keeping pace with us. They were just a few meters from the windows, dashing at the lesser short-toed larks we were disturbing as we passed.

The brent goose is still in Roome Bay just below the swings. And a flock of ten wigeon now at the mouth of the Brandyburn. That makes eight species of waterfowl in Roome Bay now: mallard, wigeon, goldeneye, long-tailed duck, eider, common scoter, red-breasted merganser and of course the brent goose. They are all there and easy to see. And if you have a telescope then farther out there are lots red-throated divers. I counted over 12 in one scan out from the bay today.

A proper photo of a brent goose - this one from the Eden estuary, last week but the one in Roome Bay is just like this

A proper photo of a brent goose – this one from the Eden estuary, last week but the one in Roome Bay is just like this

Posted February 8, 2013 by wildcrail in Sightings

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: