Now is the time for the Merlin to prepare for the flight to its winter grounds in the UK. It is also migration time for the smaller birds and the Merlin is hunting for food to save up energy for the journey. They can now be seen hunting in heaths and marshlands.
The Merlin is the most common predatory bird in Iceland. It is mostly a migrator with only a small part of the stock remaining here during winter.
The Meadow Pipit is probably the most important food source but all small birds are also on the menu e.g. Snow Buntings, Redwings, Starlings and even birds as big as the Golden Plover.
We spotted a pair of Merlins by Goðafoss. They were fighting with a Raven that was trying to get to their nest. This is the male but the female had gone back to the nest. Ravens are scavengers that do not hesitate to steal eggs from other birds’ nests if they get the chance . It did not succeed here and was forcefully driven away.
The Merlin (Falco columbarius) had Starling for dinner today. This female Merlin has watched over the garden this winter and made daily attacks on the smaller birds. Sometimes she is lucky and succeeds in getting a morsel but more often her prey manages to get away.
In the past few weeks three Merlins have been daily guests in the garden. We have also had a Sparrowhawk visiting occasionally. All these birds of prey have caused havoc in the garden and sometimes the smaller birds stay away for several hours.
This male Merlin posed for the camera today after having dined on a Redpoll.
The Merlin is the most common predatory bird in Iceland. They prey on small birds, mostly feeding on Meadow Pipits and Snow Buntings. Sometimes they even manage to catch Starlings and Redwings.
Most of them are migrating birds and go to West Europe for the winter. There are always some that overwinter here and they follow the flocks of Snow Buntings that come into towns for food in the winter time.
In the last few days they have been daily visitors in the garden, both males and females. Although it is always sad to see them catch their prey, one can not but admire them for their agility and beauty when they fly low between the tree trunks.