Saturday, December 11, 2010

Merlin with a Sanderling for Breakfast

This morning I set out on Dune Rd. in hopes of finding some American Bitterns which have been plentiful this week (with up to 4 being seen in a small area).  I drove from Quogue East and didn't find anything other than a juvenile Black-Crowned Night Heron, a Belted Kingfisher, and a Song Sparrow.  The inlet was dead with only 2 old squaw (long-tailed ducks) flying by and the expected raft of Common Eiders hugging the western jetty.  While I drove back toward Quogue, right before Dolphin Lane I spotted a Merlin on the wires with a Sanderling.  I turned around and positioned myself to photograph it...after a minute or two someone on a bike came by and flushed the bird which flew about 100 feet to the east which was actually a blessing for me as the bird now faced the other way and I could get a head-on look.  After 30 minutes or so, the man on the bike returned and I was ready for the flush shot (having taken the teleconverter off of my camera and reduced my focal length from 500mm to 300mm).  The only problem was I forgot to aim where the bird WILL fly, instead of where the bird Was.  If I'd adjusted my camera up and to the left, I would have nailed the above shot, but instead I must deal with a clipped wing.  Oh well...
I'll start off with a teaser of the other species, before the grand finale of Merlin shots.

Here is the Song Sparrow which looked so beautiful in the Spartina:

The Juvenile Night Heron had me hoping Bittern from the road... but as I approached it was clear I would not be so fortunate:

And the Belted Kingfisher, in it's less than exciting perch and pose...:

And now for the Merlin... this was when I first approached the bird and you can see the prey is facing the North which isn't ideal.  It was Full Frame however, which was awesome:

 After it had been flushed, with a feather stuck in the beak:

 Head turn.....

 It looks like it's yelling, but I assure you it was just trying not to choke on the feathers.

 Trying to pick off each morsel of meat:

 This again was before it flushed the first time:

 A close-up:

Lastly, a mouth full of feathers....


  1. A very neat series of Merlin with prey images Luke, well done!

  2. Thanks Mia... not quite up to the standard of your Kestrel + prey shots, but it's close!