Last Tick of the Year?

After a morning of laying floor tiles I treated myself to a trip out toBlakehill for, hopefully a bit of Owl watching. Despite having been yesterday Pete was keen to go again so I picked him up on my way over. There were already some cars in the car park and a scan of the path found a group of photographers already set up. It was a lovely afternoon, crisp and sunny with very little wind. First bird noted was a Robin. There were plenty of Fieldfare, Redwing and Starlings on the grass along with a couple of Mistle Thrushes and a few Blackbirds. A small bird which briefly perched on a bush was I think a Reed Bunting. A couple of birds were seen perched on some distant bushes. One looked to be aKestrel, confirmed when it flew up and started to hover. The other which looked smaller and had a more upright stance was by common consensus identified as a Merlin. It stayed in the same place for at least twenty minutes before flying off. The first of three Buzzards was also seen. Within a couple of minutes it returned to the same perch. At just gone three-twenty I spotted the first Short-eared Owl which was hunting at the far side of the site. over the next forty or so minutes it, and at least two others were seen with one remaining perched on a post for a fair while. Unfortunately the Owls all stayed a good distance away leaving the photographers little chance of any decent pictures. On the drive back heading from Purton to Lydiard a Sparrowhawk shot over the hedge and flew low along the road before flying over the opposite hedge. Best bird for me was the Merlin which I reckon will be the final year tick of 2014.

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