Falco aesalon – Resident; also a winter visitor.
A few merlins are resident, and the nest has been taken at various places in the county. We have heard of young birds having been taken from a nest near St. David’s, and one of them was kept for some time there, at Bryn-y-garn. In the summer of 1886 Sir Hugh Owen saw a brood of young Merlins at Goodwick, in a patch of heather on the top of the cliff, at a spot where he has known the nest to have been placed for several years.
We have also heard of a nest near Maenchlogog, on the Precelly Mountains. And the Rev. C. M. Phelps evidently met with a nest on the coast in the south of the county. He found a nest on the top of one of the high sand-hills, not far from Tenby, which contained four eggs, and surmised that they might be those of the Merlin.
In the winter the Merlin is far from uncommon, and we have seen it at Stone Hall on numerous occasions. One day, when we were waiting quietly in a small larch plantation for a shot at a Woodcock, we suddenly detected a male Merlin sitting on a branch level with our head, and only a few feet from us. The bird remained motionless on its perch so long as we stood still, and only flew off when we moved on.
Mr. Tracy reports that during a period of fifteen or eighteen years he received as many as eight or nine Merlins to set up for different gentlemen in the county. In his district Mr. Dix considered the Merlin not uncommon as an autumn and winter visitor, and that immature birds were the most numerous. Sir Hugh Owen once caught a Merlin near Goodwick in a rat trap. The bird was little injured, and the second day after its capture was tame enough to feed from his hand.