Rare merlin bird casts a spell over Tide Mills

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A RARE bird of prey called a merlin has been spotted hunting at a popular beauty spot, according to the Friends of Tide Mills.

The falcon is on the RSPB amber list, despite its population recovering following a population crash during the late 20th century.

It is the UK’s smallest bird of prey and its diminutive stature means it can hover and hang in the breeze when it pursues food, which is usually other small birds.

Merlins can be found roosting in reedbeds, bogs and on heaths and are often seen around the coast.

In winter the UK population increases as most of the Icelandic breeding birds migrate here for our warmer climate.

The Friends of Tide Mills were out in force to tidy up the beauty spot on Sunday March 20, which protects animals like the Merlin.

In total 15 people turned up to help, including two new members.

Together they gathered 30 sacks of rubbish, plus several much larger items, which mainly came from the beach.

Friends chairman Jim Skinner said: “Although this is of course very disappointing in that we shouldn’t really be collecting anything near this amount in the ideal world, the area behind the beach is actually relatively litter free, which is heartening.

“Our ringed plover nesting signs are still in place and again we do ask that visitors minimise disturbance of the signed area. Last year several chicks were raised. Let’s hope for a similarly successful year this year.”

The next Friends meeting will take place on Sunday, April 17.

All are welcome, no matter how much time can be spared, to help look out for and care for this special place.

You should meet at 10am at the beach end of the old village road for around two hours.

More information is available from Jim at brian.skinner2@btinternet.com.

Photo courtesy of the RSPB.