The Magic of Merlin – posted 09/12/13


Merlin seem to be in short supply this winter with only a handful of reports since October. However the discovery of one on the Brownsea Lagoon this afternoon led to one of the most spectacular natural history encounters I’ve ever witnessed. A female was spotted flying low over the lagoon scanning the area ready for a launch. It settled in the Tamarisk bush for a few minutes then all hell broke loose. It targeted a small flock of 50 Dunlin which it spooked and chased around the lagoon, twisting and turning every meter or so. It then forced the Dunlin up about 200 feet in to the sky until both predator and prey were just specks in the sky flashing white then brown as the Dunlin tried their best to escape. The Merlin valiantly managed to split a single Dunlin from the flock and stooped it all the way back down to the lagoon where they then both completed another five laps of the lagoon before the Merlin finally claimed its prize…astonishing experience. The lagoon was looking stunning with around 500 Avocet, 6 Spoonbill, 200 Oystercatcher, 30 Bar-tailed Godwit plus all the usual Redshank, Greenshank, Grey Plover, Teal, Wigeon, Shoveler, Little Egret, Brent Geese and Knot. Out in the harbour Red-breasted Merganser numbers seem to still be increasing unless birds are just congregating in bigger flocks as around 200 were seen, 50 Goldeneye, 1 Scaup, 1 Great Northern Diver, a Black-throated Diver was in the North Channel and a single Black-necked Grebe. From the RSPB anniversary Birdboat yesterday 4 Marsh Harrier around the boat was a real treat as a Peregrine came in and harassed them. Two Ring-billed Gulls have been seen over the last few days with a 1st year bird on Swineham GP yesterday evening and a 2nd year bird in Holes Bay on the 6th Dec. A Yellow-browed Warbler was at Knoll Beach Studland today and a flock of 30 Crossbill were present near Rempstone Forest. A redhead Goosander came into roost on Swineham GP and Lytchett Bay still has 5 Green Sandpiper. 3 Hen Harrier (two males and a female) were out over Swineham and 7 Woodcock flew out over Arne Moors. From Bramble Bush Bay good numbers of Pintail, Teal, Wigeon, a few Sanderling, Great Crested Grebe and Brent Geese are still present and the Sanderling flock at Sandbanks continues to feed along Shore Road on a low tide.

Finally I would like to thank the wonderful ‘A Focus on Nature’ team, Lucy McRobert, Stephen Moss, Dr Rob Lambert and their 9 members who helped out on the school bird boat this morning and then hosted an incredible workshop session and talk at Stoborough School this afternoon. 

You might also like...


Harbour update – posted 12/07/24

There was still no fledging today by any of our Osprey chicks, despite several ‘fake’ lift off’s, as…

Find out more

Harbour Update – posted 11/07/24

Beautifully settled today and nice and warm. Not too much to report other than the 5 Little Ringed…

Find out more

Call 01202 641 003