Thursday, 20 March 2014

178. Merlin (Falco columbarius)

Merlins are tiny wee falcons, the smallest you will see in the UK. Like many of the falcons the female is larger than the male, enabling her to catch larger prey - they usually feed on small birds snatched in flight such as Meadow Pipits, although one time at Frampton Marsh we saw a female Merlin feeding on what looked from the feathers a lot like a Lapwing. Merlins are very widely distributed, having a circumpolar distribution in the Northern Hemisphere. In the UK they are not numerous; they are resident in some parts whereas in others (mostly in the north) they are only present in the breeding season, and in many southern parts they are only present in the winter.They breed in open, fairly remote areas - moorland, heathland, bogs and tundra. In winter they are often to be found at coastal marshes and farmland. The male is illustrated; rather like in Sparrowhawks, he has a blue-grey back and rufous-tinged underparts, and the female and juvenile are brown above with coarse dark streaking on a pale breast. The male has a black terminal band on his tail and the female's is boldly striped dark and pale brown. They have quite short, pointed wings and are very agile in flight when chasing their prey.

Merlin, ©rogerwshaw, via Flickr Creative Commons.
Merlin painting.
Pleased with this one! Well I'm not sure if taking a short break from painting has really helped with my thumb or not, which probably means it hasn't. So I thought I would recommence, I have fashioned some fat cardboard tubes to stick around my paintbrushes (and pens) which makes holding them much easier and more comfortable. I checked on the correct way to hold a pen too and it looks nothing like how I'd been holding my pens! So hopefully changing that will help.

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