It's been 10 days since my last stationary watch at Sand Bay, and to be honest I wasn't going to go as there was a goodly thick fog up the Bristol Channel and high tide had been 2 hours earlier. Anyway, feint heart and all that saw me at my regular spot, tripod up, scope uncovered at 8am. A bit raw, but at least there wasn't a wind off the sea.
A scan along the edge of the marsh revealed 73 Redshank (sadly I did count them all). 60+ Shelduck, 20+ Curlew, an impressive count of 7-800 Dunlin, 2 Lesser Black Backed, 2 Herring, 40+ Black Headed, plus a smattering of the usual passerines. Nothing unusual, but good numbers.
On a secondary scope scan, lo and behold a female Merlin on some driftwood. Smattering of Merlin reports here recently but not seen it myself. Watched for about 5 minutes, cracking views in the scope (and no camera!!!!!), then she turned her head to take off. Using the bins, followed her flying low in a circle and then amazingly come back towards me. Absolutely stunning views, as I followed her and she got closer and closer. Then all of a sudden, up she flew and I almost missed with the bins as she struck out at a Linnet, which failed to be caught. She returned to the perch and did another chase and grab (again failed) about 2 minutes later. After this failed chase, she flew off over the scrub towards the car park and I never saw her again. But that's enough for me, I drove to work a happy man.
Just before driving off a brief walk along the scrub line picked out a male and female Stonechat 20 feet away tail flicking each other from adjacent branches in the same bush. Lovely. Now why can't all birds be as obliging as a Merlin and Stonechat…. Sit on a nice perch, good views for the observer and good behaviour. None of this messing about in undergrowth.