Saturday, 19 April 2014

Merlin (Falco columbarius)

OTHER NAMES: Pigeon Hawk
Latin Etymology: Falco ("falcon") columbarius ("pertaining to doves")
Adult Female Merlin (subspecies F. c. aesolon) at Harlyn Bay, Cornwall - April 2014

Featured Subspecies: Falco columbarius aesolon
Weight: 165-230g  /  Length: 24-33cm  /  Wingspan: 50-73cm
UK AMBER LIST / IUCN Red List - Least Concern

Out of all the species represented on this blog thus far, none have had more hours put into finding them with so little success.  A dashing little bird and the smallest raptor in the UK, despite repeated visits to sites which are good for them and had reported them regularly, I ended up with at best fleeting glimpses of "probables" flying past me at high speed, or far more usually, no sign at all of them.  Most frustratingly, of all British species this had been one I had wanted to see since a young age.  When I finally managed to take this photograph I hadn't even been looking for one, I was on a casual walk and I'd just happened to turn round and inspect a distant bird that had alighted on a post further back on the path I had just walked down only to realise this chance glance was the bird that had vexed me on potentially dozens of occasions.  For the good of anyone else who wishes to see this lovely if frustrating bird, I'm going to refrain from advice in case I jinx you.

Related Species:
Order: Falconiformes
Family: Falconidae
Genus: Falco
Subspecies: F. c. columbarius, F. c. suckleyi, F. c. richardsonii, F. c. subawesalon, F. c. aesalon, F. c. insignis, F. c. pacificus, F. c. pallidus, F. c. lymani

 - Sighting Locations -
UNITED KINGDOM - Scarce and local breeding species (900-1500 pairs) - migrates internally in the UK in Winter
 - A single female seen perched at Harlyn Bay in April 2014, prior to that a number seen fleetingly in flight at Elmley Marshes in Winter.

Further Notes: BirdForum Opus, IUCN Red ListRSPBWikipedia, Xeno-canto

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