Somerset Ornithological Society - Bird News
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New Year's Day Raptor Bash 2014

Only a partial Bash today due to family commitments.

Steart Marshes - 1 January 2015 (early morning)

1 Merlin (probable adult female) - in view for 35 minutes perched on the ground at the edge of the Eastern Lagoon.

1 Peregrine (adult male) - located before dawn roosting on a favourite perch. Later seen just after it had captured a small passerine (Skylark?). It landed on the ground but was pestered by a Carrion Crow so flew off (scolding the corvid loudly) to perch near to the top of a nearby pylon to eat breakfast in peace.

4 Kestrel - perched on posts, hover-hunting and chasing Sparrowhawk (see below).

1 Sparrowhawk (adult female) - perched on a fence post for ten minutes then flew off low, stalled suddenly and attacked a small passerine (probably a Meadow Pipit) on the ground in deep grass. An incredibly agile low level chase ensued with the Pipit successful dodging several attacks by the hawk. However, the electric performance ended when the hawk somehow dived, turned and swept upwards in a split second and grabbed the Pipit in a puff of feathers. The hawk flew off with its prize and was immediately attacked by an adult male Kestrel. The Sparrowhawk dodged successfully but the falcon was persistent and made several more dives as it chased the huntress over the meadows. The hawk neatly side-slipped each attack and escaped into cover provided by a Hawthorn thicket, leaving the vanquished Kestrel fluttering around before it perched on at the top of one of the bushes, frustrated.

5 Common Buzzard - two soaring and the others perched on low perches or the ground.


1,500+ Golden Plover
800+ Lapwing
50+ Redshank
5 Common Gull
4 Song Thrush
10+ Goldfinch
4 Stonechat

Southlake Moor - 1 January 2014 (early afternoon)

2 Peregrine (adult pair) - playfully hunting co-operatively, but unsuccessfully.

2 Kestrel - one perched on a post the other hover-hunting.

1 Sparrowhawk (adult female) - perched on a fence for ten minutes and then flew off low and fast, apparently hunting.

8+ Common Buzzard - two soaring low and the rest loafing on low perches.


250+ Lapwing
40+ Golden Plover
8 Common Snipe

King's Sedge Moor - 1 January 2015 (mid-afternoon)

1 Merlin (adult male) - perched on a Hawthorn tree for 15 minutes before flying off. Captured a couple of record shots of this brightly marked falcon.

3 Kestrel - perched and hover-hunting.

18+ Common Buzzard - three soaring low and the rest loafing on low perches and the ground. One very striking hawk with an almost completely white head and underparts with unusually contrasting very dark brown upperparts. Missed a record shot by a split second. Definitely not Rough-legged Buzzard though.


800+ Lapwing
40+ Fieldfare
30+ Redwing
6 Stonechat

Happy New Year and good birding to all in 2015. Keep watching the sky!