Thursday, January 6, 2011

A Roadside MERLIN Story

Driving down a fairly busy road in coastal Maryland this afternoon, I spied a MERLIN perched on top of a telephone pole. Truth be told, I've seen a few MERLINS on these poles before, so every time I drive past this spot I make it a point to check. As luck would have it, today there was one of these amazing falcons sitting comfortably on one.I quickly pulled far off the side of the road, cut the engine, hit my flashers and grabbed my camera. The MERLIN watched me for a bit, while I enjoyed watching and photographing it. The bird stood very still for a time, so I thought I'd squeak 'hello' and have the bird switch position to get into better light. And then...The MERLIN leaped off it's telephone pole and took to the skies.I thought for a second that it was coming directly at me, as if it had plans to fly into my car.Maybe it didn't like my squeaky noise?Aghhhhhhh! It's going to land in my car... alas, no. It flew over the Volvo and behind me. I could not tell where it went. "That was a fun moment," I thought. And then...This small falcon immediately returned to it's perch.And it would appear that it brought lunch... as best I can tell, a DARK-EYED JUNCO.It wrestled with it's prey for a short while and then began to dine.Experts say that mid-to-late afternoon is the MERLIN'S witching hour. That is the time when this species really likes to do it's hunting. From my experiences, this bird is HIGHLY successful at hunting smaller birds.After a minute or so, I decided to leave this falcon to dine in peace. Poor Junco.Best,

Dan

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