Friday, December 05, 2003

In this day of e-mail and constant staring at a computer screen, I'm beginning to see the attraction of using the good old-fashioned telephone.

This afternoon whilst talking to a colleague on the phone, my gaze was, as usual when on the phone, fixed to the garden following every movement, bins at the ready. It was 4.10pm and few birds were left in the garden, most having departed for their roosts. A small group of Starlings were wheeling around over their leylandii roost site when suddenly a streak burst into the sky from the left. "Merlin!" I found myself shrieking down the phone to my colleague. "Wow! It's chasing a Mipit" I added.

The Mipit headed upwards, circling in a slow jinking flight. The Merlin followed every turn, spiraling skywards, almost faltering at one point, with tail fully fanned, when the Mipit suddenly broke away. The Merlin seemed caught out, but suddenly hit turbo and shot off like a bullet. One of those few-second moments which seem to last a lifetime! It was fantastic, and unfortunately, not wanting to drop the phone on my colleague, I didn't get to see the rest of the chase and the outcome.

My colleague was thoroughly gripped but complimented me on my live commentary!

Merlin is increasingly regular on the fen now and I almost expect to see it most weeks, and more often than not from the office window (I think the sixth sighting from my desk).

With Peregrine added to my house list recently while on the phone to local recorder Brian Stone, and a few other species added that way (Moorhen immediately springs to mind), I think I might make more use of my newly-discovered birding aid!

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