Monday, 23 September 2013

Stanwell Moor - 23 September 2013

Conditions on the soil mound were absolutely perfect and we set a Meadow Pipit box with a run of three nets directly behind to catch any birds that went up from behind the box as we had observed this to happen quite often. As well as the configuration for Meadow Pipits we also put up a double double with a tape for Linnet, and another double totalling 100ft close to the lake for anything that might be circulating with the tit flock. We had just taken out the first captured Meadow Pipits and gone to the bottom of the bank to collect the ringing box when C noticed a falcon flying swiftly in the direction of the nets, then the nets jink as though the bird had hit it. I ran up the bank and closed on the bird, thinking all the time that it certainly wasn't a Sparrowhawk or Kestrel. The bird was a completely brown, extremely aggressive falcon and as I returned to C (with the talons firmly controlled) I was very pleased that it hadn't escaped - and even more pleased when C said that he was happy for me to do it, since neither of us had done Merlin before.

The bird was larger than I had expected, having a wing of 231mm and weighing 178g. This places the individual well in the biometric range for the Icelandic race (F. c. subaesalon) being in excess of 223mm but as being longer-winged is the only indication, we won't be making any claims in this regard.

 3F Merlin Falco columbarius

Heavily fringed rufous on upper parts and broad light bands on tail (just about visible in this photo.)
The Meadow Pipits responded well to the audio lure until the airport changed the runway and flight path being used (and we had aircraft passing overhead, every 90 seconds) after take off. We closed and were packed up by 1pm.

Total:  54

Merlin - 1
Meadow Pipit - 52
Blue Tit - 1