For the first time in Scotland, and the UK, a young merlin has been tagged by the Highland Foundation for Wildife in Badenoch, using the very latest minature satellite transmitter.
David Whitaker had found a merlin nest in long heather in the upper part of the River Spey watershed earlier in the season with eggs – a very late nest. He took me to the nest on 1st August when we found 2 chicks in the nest but the biggest chick was too small t0 satellite tag. So we just ringed and measured the two young. Both chicks were in good condition but small. There was no fresh food in the nest, just meadow pipit feathers. Being so late in the season many of the small birds such as meadow pipits had started to leave the high ground. One of the adults was calling some distance away.
I returned on 7th August with Dan Puplett and found the two chicks in the heather about two feet from the nest; the male Merlin was calling in background. I decided to tag the larger chick – ringed with BTO ring EN72946 and fitted a 5gm solar Microwave Telemetry satellite transmitter number 51898. The wing measured 158 mm, the tail 80 mm and the weight was 237 gms – it was well fed.
The chick subsequently fledged and was called Corrie, in view of the location being on the way to the Corrieyairack Pass from the River Spey to Fort Augustus.
Additional Information on the species
Check out the BTO bird facts page for the merlin at http://blx1.bto.org/birdfacts/results/bob3090.htm