Hi and welcome to my Blog, my name is Paul Riddle and I live in south Leicestershire, UK. Back in August 2007 my quest began to locate as many local Little Owl territories as possible. The driving force was a reported decline in the uk numbers so I thought I would do my bit and conduct a study in my area. After 7 years and countless hours out in the field I have detected over 200 different sites. With a thirst for a greater understanding of the owls a more comprehensive monitoring and nest box programme then commenced. This also now includes monitoring the local and very sparse population of Barn Owls, please pop back occasionally and catch up with the life and times of my owls and any other wildlife that I come across. I hope you enjoy your visit!!!

Friday, 7 October 2016

MERLIN!!!!!!!!!!!!

Hi all!

Yes it has been a while since my last post, my apologies but for personal reasons I decided a while ago that I was going to take a break from the social media (Blogger) that I participate in. I will be back when the time is right and post a catch up of all the activities that I am still actively pursuing, especially my Barn Owl breeding programme which is thriving and 2016 has proven to be my best year so far!

However, I am going to break my own self imposed rule on "no posts for a while" by offering this quick post following a most enjoyable few days break up in Ayrshire, Scotland with my mate Adey.

We were on the Isle of Arran, (a beautiful place and would highly recommend a visit) our main objective was to search for Hen Harriers and then if luck was on our side maybe a few photo's of them too. After three days of solid searching two separate Hen Harrier sightings were made, one of a ringtail and the other of a very handsome male, some images were achieved but of rather poor quality due to the distances involved.

For anyone who is a long term reader of my blog will probably recall the odd time I have mentioned that the Merlin has been my life long bogey bird. After many years of visiting potential sites (Scotland 4 times) my first ever sighting was made in Norfolk in January of this year, since then I have made a further 3 sightings at different locations, albeit all from distance and or very brief.  Although no "record shot images" were obtained I was still very satisfied to have just made the sightings, until now!

We were driving slowly along the west coast of the Isle near to Black Waterfoot when I spotted up ahead a small raptor like bird diving out of the sky at speed down near the seas edge. There was a scattering of small passerines (Rock Pipits) and the raptor species re-emerged catchless and disappeared further along the coast. We both witnessed this explosion of activity but couldn't be sure of the raptors identity although Merlin was suspected? I continued to drive slowly along the costal road hoping to see it again, then as we turned a corner there it sat on top of a small wooden building about 100 yards from us. The car was stopped and the bird was viewed through our binoculars, 100% it was a Merlin.

Windows opened and cameras at the ready the car was started and we inched nearer and nearer, 90 yards, 80 yards, 70 yards etc., we got to within 30 yards and the car was turned sideways so as to get an image out of the window then whoosh, off it flew, not even a distant record shot was obtained, sods law strikes again!

For the next 20 minutes we drove slowly up and down trying to re-locate it, then Adey called out that there was a bird in a tree the other side of the bay to where we were, within seconds I got it in view in my binoculars, there it was again!! A painful and tentative drive around the bay commenced, we slowly got nearer and nearer until I dare not push my luck any further and the car was stopped. I poked my lens out of the window and BOOM, GET IN THERE my first ever image of a Merlin was in the can!!!

Merlin
I rattled off over 150 images of it (Adey 300+) before it flew off at speed along the coast, I haven't as yet had the time to go through/edit all my images but what a bird, (female/1st year juvenile) I suspect? I couldn't get over how lucky I was to have witnessed it hunting let alone to have captured and image of it, I do feel truly blessed.


Thanks for stopping by, catch up again soon, hopefully...........

22 comments:

  1. Well done mate hope to see you soon

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    1. Cheers Mark, yes hopefully a trip over to Norfolk is on the cards soon.......??

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  2. Fabulous, Paul. I suspect that the second image would get my nomination for Photo Of The Year!!!

    Grreat to see you back - if only briefly.

    Best wishes - - - Richard

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    1. Thanks Richard, humbling comments indeed, I'll be back full time sooner rather than later, once I've got my mojo back!

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  3. Absolutely stunning photos, beautiful Merlin.

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  4. Hi Paul and welcome back with a bang, what a set of stunning images of a fabulous bird, we all have our bogey birds and you can say you have put that one to sleep big time. Regards John

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    1. Many thanks John, yes bogey bird no more.........

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  5. Well I'm glad one of us has wiped the Merlin off the bogey bird list. And not with some ropey record shots that I have been considering posting at times lol. Top draw images Paul, well done on the Barn Owls too this year

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    1. I'd of been happy with a ropey record shot Doug, and I'd have posted it too. But as I say, with this result I was blessed!

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  6. wow Bild zwei ist der absolute Favoriet
    Grüsse Frank

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  7. Replies
    1. Cheers Carl, now just to locate one in the Hinckley area!

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  8. Magazine material mate and I sincerely mean that brilliant!!!!!!!!

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  9. Lovely photos, and your header is gorgeous! :)

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  10. Replies
    1. Many thanks for stopping by and leaving a comment!

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