I had a bit of time before the school pickup and as it was a lovely bright afternoon I decided to slowly drive down to Cart Gap in the hope of seeing some Geese on Sugar Beet tops there. As I passed down the lane two parties of Pinks headed over, 44 and 16, but the beet field held none. I turned around at the lifeboat station and headed back. On reaching my target field a large number of small passerines took to the wing, some 200 or so was my estimate, and from the brief views I had I felt they were mostly Finches and Larks. Pulling over I scanned for what I suspected may have spooked them, namely a Sparrowhawk, but was rewarded with a more exciting raptor in the form of a Merlin. It landed on the ground, looking round with bobbing head as it tried to pick out a likely prey item. A couple of times it flew around, only to land a short distance away, and at one point it walked into a shallow puddle but neither drank nor bathed. After maybe 15 minutes it flew to the top of a small bush then chased off northwards, scattering a small flock of Golden Plover. I followed it and watched it have a half-hearted stab at grabbing a Woodpigeon, the Pigeons size and weight perhaps proving too much. It disappeared after that but I was soon watching it in the field again as it had returned having successfully seized a small passerine. What it had caught I never properly saw, although it did have white outer feathers to a longish tail, and I suspected a Pied Wagtail. The Merlin was an immature bird and from the generally bluish cast to it's upperparts I judged it a male, although I have since read that females can have somewhat male like plumage. A single Linnet flew over while I was there and in the background, a Sparrowhawk hunted the gardens of Rollesby Way. The large flock of Finches and Larks didn't return so I'll have to save them for another day.
Merlin, Happisburgh - 01.02.2010
Just before I left, a movement in amongst the seeded Sugar Beet and Fat Hen was a 'Teddy bear' faced Chinese Water Deer. They really seem to be everywhere.