I spent an appreciable amount of time today simply watching a single female Merlin. The day was bright, warm and clear but still held no surprises as far as bird numbers were concerned. The bird spent well over two hours "sitting out" on rocks distributed over a moderately sized grass moor. It abruptly changed perches several times , presumably in response to perceived disturbance, and I concluded it had probably fed very early and was taking time out or it was a northwards bound migrant having a rest. What really impressed me was its level of vigilance!! I suspect every moment associated with that wide area was picked up by the bird, whose head was turning in various directions throughout the whole time. More interestingly, it turned its attention skywards on many occasions. Very little was on the move as far as I could detect but, earlier , I'd picked up a short call from Skylark and wondered if the passage of single birds was continuing at height and not really discernible due , in part, to the glare. Eventually it suddenly whipped away and flew off to the north. A fascinating interlude!
We hear so many bad news stories it seems to me, to raise every one's hopes for the future, it's worthwhile reporting on something positive now and again. A couple of decades ago Baikal Teal numbers globally were declining and the world population was estimated at 75,000. Since then it has increased rapidly, such that the population is now over a million birds. The Republic of Korea has virtually all the wintering birds and work in 2009 saw 1,063,280 being counted there!! It is thought the change has come about by a decline in hunting and the availability of an increase in reclaimed land ( although I suspect the odd negative aspect might surround that story!!).