Worth mentioning in (very) brief that during a forty five minute vigil down by the Solway this evening at sunset, I saw four merlins, two sparrowhawks and a peregrine over the same field, all within half a mile of where I saw the merlins and the harrier earlier in the week. The concentration of little birds is quite staggering, and there are no prizes for guessing why the predators have come in such numbers.
Mixed in with the arrivals are the many multitudes of birds which have been squeezed out of their inland haunts to lurk along the coast where it is milder. There was an entire field full of reed buntings – several hundred in a massed crowd, all whining sadly and ducking their heads beneath the lolling brassica shaws whenever a predator passed by. Stirred in with these were larks in trilling gangs and a flock of starlings which sprawled over three fields and blended seamlessly with the peewits.
There was one particularly stunning pursuit by a merlin over a stubble field in the last glimpse of sunlight, and then the barnacle geese rose up in a churning mass and stole the show.
Incidentally, I take every opportunity to flaunt this photograph (above) of a merlin I took last Spring on the Chayne, but must confess that I reduced it in size to fit on this blog and then lost the original. The image is now forever trapped as a sad miniature of its former self, and never fails to give me a pang of irritation whenever I see it.