The merlin is a small falcon, not much bigger than a blackbird. Merlins feed on small birds, especially meadow pipits which they chase in flight, low to the ground. Their small size also allows them to 'hang' in the breeze as they pursue their prey. They nest on the ground, among the long grass and heather. In the winter, the UK Merlin population increases as breeding birds are joined by migrants from Iceland in search of warmer climes. This Merlin was well hidden in the dry grass and stubble. It remained quite still, only moving its head slightly which gave it away. Managed to capture this image from quite a distance and through a bank of reeds.
Location: Elmley Nature Reserve
Photographer: Dave Saunders