Raptor nut (part two)

In my last post I noted that I had seen a female merlin disappearing beneath a clump of dead heather high up in a mid-Wales cwm. I wondered if it was the site of a nest. I returned in mid June and very quickly discovered that yes, it was. I informed “a trusted friend”, who in turn contacted “bird ringer extraordinaire” Tony Cross, who, incidentally, had been presented with a Lifetime Achievement Award by the Welsh Ornithological Society in 2019. We visited the site, under Tony’s licence, on June 22nd, and Tony ringed the five chicks. It seemed to go very well.

Another “raptor nut” visited the cwm on June 30th, and despite spending seven hours there saw very little merlin activity. He concluded that the merlin nest had failed. I was greatly saddened to hear this, and concerned that the disturbance at the nest during the ringing process could have been partly (or wholly) to blame. Either that or a predator – a fox perhaps – had followed our scent trails as far as the nesting ledge. I feel guilty that I may have had a small role in the loss of such a rare nesting bird. Alternatively the failure could simply have been down to wet and windy weather at such an exposed site in the week between our and his visits. We will never know.

Shortly after returning home I wrote a blog post about the visit to the merlin nest, and was about to publish it when I heard the sad news. I have decided – in the circumstances – to keep it to myself. It’s a shame: it was a good one!

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