Merlin, Sparrowhawk, Ruff and 3 unconvinced children!

Being half-term, I took the week off work to be with the kids. The plan was to go on various trips throughout the week as a family.The reality was that the weather was pretty grim and the kids stayed indoors glued to their gadgets for the majority of t...

Being half-term, I took the week off work to be with the kids. The plan was to go on various trips throughout the week as a family.
The reality was that the weather was pretty grim and the kids stayed indoors glued to their gadgets for the majority of the week! When trips out were mentioned later in the week, a chorus of disapproval ensued!
  After explaining the dangers of sitting around doing nothing, and the need for exercise and fresh air, my girls begrudgingly agreed to join my partner Nicky and I in trips to Steart Marshes, Shapwick Moor and RSPB Ham Wall.
Once out and about, they quite enjoy it, they just need a bit of persuading in the first place! I suspect my kids are no different to many others in this day and age!
  Unfortunately they're happy if we all keep moving, but I need to stop regularly to take photo's! This is when I get the 'Come on dad!' calls....

   At Steart Marshes my other half spotted a female Merlin sat in the distance on an overturned metal cattle trough! My first Merlin of the year! After a few minutes it was chased off by a Kestrel, who took it's place on the trough!
   Over the back of the reserve was a large flock of Golden Plovers, which took to the air a few times, put up by a pair of Marsh Harriers and possibly other birds of prey. Also present were Lapwings, Ruff, Dunlin, Ringed Plovers and most probably a few Little Stints! These are tiny waders, and in a couple of hugely cropped silhouette shots I took, there are some tiny waders amongst the Golden Plovers in flight!
   After a while I continued walking down the track overlooking the marshes in the hope of relocating the Merlin. Amazingly I was to get very lucky, as the Merlin flew right past me back towards where it had been seen originally! I managed my best ever shots of a Merlin, and at looking at the screen on the back of my camera, I fist-pumped the air and said 'Yes'!
   Other highlights of the last 2 weeks since my last blog post include Ruff and a Sparrowhawk at Westonzoyland Airfield, Jay and Great Spotted Woodpecker at Westhay Moor, Great White Egrets at Shapwick Heath and lots of very vocal and combative Skylarks in various locations around Somerset!

Below are photos of all mentioned above plus Curlews, Starlings, Wrens, Tits, Butterflies and some Autumnal leaves!

^Above^ - The female Merlin at Steart Marshes!

^Above^ - Stonechats at Steart Marshes.

^Above^ - Cetti's Warbler at Steart Marshes..... staying mostly hidden as usual!

^Above^ - Black Headed Gull about to take a bug at Steart.

^Above^ - Curlews at Steart.

^Above^ - Golden Plovers at Steart.

^Above^ - Dunlin at Steart (With Kestrel in top pic)

^Above^ - Poor record shots of what I believe to be Little Stints (the tiny birds!) with Golden Plovers and Lapwing at Steart.

^Above^ - Goldfinches at Steart.

^Above^ - Kestrels at Steart.

^Above^ - Grey Heron at Steart.

^Above^ - Ringed Plovers at Steart.

^Above^ - Robins at Steart.

^Above^ - Ruff at Steart.

^Above^ - Redshank at Steart.

^Above^ - Long Tailed Tit at Steart.

^Above^ - Little Egret at Steart.

^Above^ - Pair of Marsh Harriers at Steart.

^Above^ - Magpie at Steart.

^Above^ - Meadow Pipit at Steart.

^Above^ - Lapwings at Steart.

^Above^ - Carrion Crows at Steart.

^Above^ - Dragonfly at Steart.

^Above^ - Wren at Steart.

^Above^ - Starlings at Steart.

^Above^ - Pied Wagtail at Steart.

^Above^ - Skylarks at Steart.

^Above^ - Shelducks at Steart.

^Above^ - Sheep at Steart.

^Above^ - Sparrowhawk at Westonzoyland Airfield in Somerset.

^Above^ - Male and female Ruff at Westonzoyland airfield.

^Above^ - Golden Plovers at Westonzoyland Airfield .

^Above^ - Golden Plovers, Lapwing and Starling at Westonzoyland Airfield.

^Above^ - Lapwings at Westonzoyland Airfield.

^Above^ - Meadow Pipit at Westonzoyland Airfield.

^Above^ - Skylarks at Westonzoyland Airfield.

^Above^ - Pheasants near Milverton in Somerset.

^Above^ - Jackdaws on Sheep near Milverton.

^Above^ - Robin near Milverton.

^Above^ - Mute Swans at Stathe in Somerset.

^Above^ - Stonechat at Stathe.

^Above^ - Cormorants at Stathe.

^Above^ - Meadow Pipits at Stathe.

^Above^ - Yet more Skylarks chasing about! This time in Stathe.

^Above^ - Stock Doves at Stathe.

^Above^ - Great Spotted Woodpeckers at Shapwick Moor in Somerset.

^Above^ - Blue Tits at Shapwick Moor.

^Above^ - Coal Tits at Shapwick Moor.

^Above^ - Dunnocks at Shapwick Moor.

^Above^ - Chaffinch at Shapwick Moor.

^Above^ - Great Tits at Shapwick Moor.

^Above^ - Jay at Shapwick Moor.

^Above^ - Robins at Shapwick Moor.

^Above^ - Wrens at Shapwick Moor (One after having a bath!)

^Above^ - Redwings at Shapwick Moor! (They're back!)

^Above^ - Female Stonechat at Shapwick Moor.

^Above^ - Blue Tit and Stonechat with berries at Shapwick Moor.

^Above^ - Ravens at Shapwick Moor.

^Above^ - Grey Heron at Shapwick Moor.

^Above^ - Starling in my home Somerset village.

^Above^ - Sparrowhawk above my Somerset house.

^Above^ - Mallard at RSPB Ham Wall.

^Above^ - Moorhen at Ham Wall.

^Above^ - Gadwall at Ham Wall.

^Above^ - Great White Egret at Ham Wall.

^Above^ - Coot at Ham Wall.

^Above^ - Grey Herons at Ham Wall.

^Above^ - Great Tit at Ham Wall.

^Above^ - Coal Tit at Ham Wall.

^Above^ - Black Headed Gull at Ham Wall.

^Above^ - Comma Butterfly at Ham Wall.

^Above^ - Red Admiral Butterfly at Ham Wall.

^Above^ - Speckled Wood Butterflies at Ham Wall.

^Above^ - Male Stonechat at Ham Wall.

^Above^ - Male and female Shoveler at Ham Wall.

^Above^ - Robin at Ham Wall.

^Above^ - Autumn at RSPB Ham Wall.

^Above^ - Backlit reeds at Ham Wall.

^Above^ - Mute Swans at Shapwick Heath.

^Above^ - Shovelers at Shapwick Heath.

^Above^ - Teal at Shapwick Heath.

^Above^ - Grey Heron at Shapwick Heath.

^Above^ - Great White Egret with fish at Shapwick Heath.

^Above^ - Blackbird at Shapwick Heath.

^Above^ - Dragonfly welcoming me to Shapwick Heath.

^Above^ - Fish at Shapwick Heath... loads of food for Herons and Egrets!

^Above^ - Berries at Shapwick Heath.

^Above^ - Autumn leaves at Shapwick Heath.

^Above^ - My '3 unconvinced children' enjoying Ham Wall! :D

^Above^ - Yours truly taking pics of a Stonechat at Steart Marshes. Hope you like my camouflage gear...  ;)  Pics taken by my 12 year old daughter, Erin. :)