Raptor fest at Aust

I revisited Aust Wharf when there was a break in the rain yesterday with my birding pal Paul Joy.
We thought we would try our luck again and catch some more photographs of the Short Eared Owls.
The wind was bitingly cold and the light was really poor for the majority of the afternoon.

A pair of Kestrels were really active. Hunting along the Wharf independently but always in sight of each other. Observed the male successfully stoop from a hover and catch some prey - possibly a vole but not too sure.

The pair then perched close to each other and mated briefly. Good to see the start of  a new generation of these beautiful birds.

When the cold got too much for us we sat in the car for a warm and saw what we thought was a Kestrel land at the top of a nearby tree. We scrambled to get out with the cameras to capture a clear picture. I managed to grab a few shots and could not believe our luck that the bird was in fact a Merlin.

The Merlin is the UK's smallest species of Falcon. Its a really quick flyer and specialises in taking small birds such as Meadow Pipits and small insects.

That was the first time I have ever got a picture of a Merlin. It was a beautiful male and he did look splendid. He did not stay for long and shot off like a F-16 fighter jet.

After hours of waiting we decided to leave as it looked like the owls had taken the day off.

We didn't get very far - the end of the Wharf's road before seeing two other photographers that appeared to be taking aim at something good that had attracted their attention.

Indeed they had found something good. A Short Eared Owl was perched not far way.

We had a crazy few minutes trying to get into a good location for a clear picture. Eventually the owl settled and sat there looking rather forlorn in the cold biting wind.

Despite the weather and not ideal conditions for photography the trip turned out to be a real raptor fest.

Male Kestrel

Male Merlin

Short Eared Owl

Short Eared Owl

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