Merlins are small falcons that breed in the uplands of Northumberland during the summer. In the autumn and winter they can be seen along the east coast as they move away from their breeding grounds in search of food. This particular individual I found one day whilst walking along the cliff edge near St Mary’s Island. I spotted this Merlin from some distance, so I decided to test my stalking skills and see if I could get close enough to photograph.
I crept along the cliff edge keeping out of sight, then when I thought I was getting close I peered over the edge. It saw me right away; so much for the stealth stalking! I was surprised the merlin didn’t fly off, but it seemed unconcerned with my presence and continued to preen itself and watch passing Rock Pipits below.
This is the closest encounter I have had to a merlin in the wild and I spent the next twenty minutes watching and photographing this stunning bird of prey before a carrion crow mobbed it and it flew.