Sunday, April 8, 2012

Merlins And Moles

I squeezed a few hours birding in despite the cold, grey, breezy start, a brighter middle and then more drizzle to end on, so there’s not a lot to report – again. 

As I drove along Burned House Lane I glanced sideways at a Buzzard descending amongst corvids where I guessed a dead rabbit was about to be claimed, but the double white lines here preclude any stopping to bird watch. Between Lambs Lane and Fluke hall Lane I added 4 Kestrels to the note book, two separate pairs hunting their territories, then along Fluke Hall Lane I thought there was another Kestrel atop a telegraph pole. On closer inspection it turned out to be a Merlin; a pity about the grey light, the necessary overexposure and ISO 800 followed by Photoshop. Stop making excuses! 


I know one or two of my blog readers have an aversion to Merlins and perhaps birds of prey in general, but a Merlin is my favourite bird of prey, so completely fearless, dashing and spectacular is it when hunting. Some regard the North American and Eurasian Falco columbarius populations as two distinct species, a bird with a long-standing presence on both sides of the Atlantic, as demonstrated by the degree of genetic differences between Eurasian and North American populations. Right now the splitters, in particular the Scilly tickers (or is that Silly Tickers?), argue the Merlin might be considered two distinct species, with gene exchanges probably having ceased at least a million years ago. 

The Merlin sped off across Hi-Fly’s now partly ploughed fields, setting to flight the several Lapwings, Oystercatchers, Redshanks and Skylarks. 

In the village Woodpigeons, Collared Doves and Jackdaws prowled around the Golden Ball’s beer tables looking for crumbs of Golden Wonder or Uncle Albert’s Pork Scratchings. Funny how normally shy birds are less fearful when there may be food about. Now there’s a tricky exposure – black and grey bird, half of it against the grey slate roof, the other half against a grey sky – well done Canon. 


The Pilling Water/Fluke walk proved to be mainly that, a walk, with no sign of fresh springtime birds just winter ones or recent arrivals: 2 Little Egret, 2 Little Grebe, 3 Tufted Duck, 3 Jay, 14 Chaffinch, 1 Reed Bunting, 2 Meadow Pipit, 3 Skylark, 7 Teal, 1 Greenshank. 1 more Kestrel and now 250 Pink-footed Goose. 


I came across a trophy wire of freshly killed moles – European Mole Talpa europaea

 European Mole Talpa europaea.

A mole's diet is mostly earthworms and other small invertebrates found in the soil. Mole runs are in reality 'worm traps', the mole sensing when a worm falls into the tunnel then quickly running along to kill and eat it. Moles cause damage and alarm to gardeners and green keepers when they appear unexpectedly leaving a trail of mole hills in their wakes. 

Killing and then displaying the pathetic little corpses is a throwback from the days when gamekeepers had to display dead "vermin" to justify their employment and show how efficient they were. Surely In this day and age it is both unjustified and inexcusable that anyone still does this?


Errol said...

tree duzin mouldywarps be nuff fer a weskit!

Tammy said...

Nice Merlin! I think they are gorgeous little falcons. I caught a few sights of them around here. The Kestrel & Jackdaw photos are outstanding, while the mole lined fence a tad sad, poor little guys.

grammie g said...

Hey Phil....I am finally able to see half decent after my eye surgery ...I come to see you and you are still complainingly about things ; } Get a life!!!
I am also very disappointed that you didn't stop and check on the poor rabbit could have been the Easter bunny you know, and you left to for the birds to pick at...for shame!!
The Moles ..that is horrific...that should keep the evil spirits away for a few days ... : }}}}
Your not so seeing good friend ...

eileeninmd said...

Cool shots of both the Merlin and Kestrel. I am not into hunting or such displaying of the hunted critters.

euthymic said...

It must be nice being able to understand the world in the way that you do.

Betty Roan said...

I'm not a mole fan, but don't want them hanging on my fence. ;)
Love the kestrel and jackdaw shots. Sometimes the overexposure etc is worth just seeing such a magnificent bird.

Stuart Price said...

Agree the display of mole corpses is totally unnecessary.

Choy Wai Mun said...

Great images as usual. The mole fence is a pretty sad sight.

Kat said...

Nice pictures - even if the one with the moles make me a bit sad. I understand that it is pest control, but I'm not used to regarding them as pests (we don't have them in Norway, afaik), and they are such fascinating creatures1 Jackdaws are very pretty birds, they used to be a rare sight in Bergen, but now there's quite a few of them hanging out in the city centre.

Andrew said...

Lovely images of your wonderful birds.. Moles are wonderful little animals and not often see..
I have a farming friend who says his cattle can get injured by their excavations..


Mary Howell Cromer said...

You can be forgiven for the excuses on the editing and fudging of the Merlin image, but only for today;)

I do not know if I have ever seen a Merlin before, or not, I certainly have never had the good fortune to photograph one, but I would love to. They are beautiful birds and I can see why you like/love them, for I would also.

Now on to the Mole line up...geesh that seems sad, I mean OK, get rid of them, but then to display them...kind of odd to me, but then, that is just me thinking. Have a great week!

Ayuwat Jearwattanakanok said...

That photo of the mole is quite terrifying....
Merlin is sure a great bird and also the one that I still haven't seen yet.

news said...

Hi Phil: moles still part of the old class system. Best Wishes JWB.

Chris said...

Amazing kestrel shot Phil... All species Iðm not able to see over here ;-)

Christian said...

Hi Phil

It is a shame that the moles are displayed in this way - a little disrespectful to a creatures which is just trying to go about its business. I wonder why you don't see buzzards trying for a free meal.

Love the Merlin.

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