30th November 2019

Kestrels: Once our most numerous bird of prey, Kestrels have declined and Buzzards have increased and are now number one! Yesterday when, taking our van out for a run, it broke down (sorted by rescue). We were therefore delighted when this one flew in near the lane we parked up on. Kestrels use high perches to hunt from, especially in winter when they need to preserve energy, as their characteristic hovering uses far more energy. This one didn’t stay long, so we occupied ourselves waiting for roadside rescue by playing scrabble we had in the van, but it was lovely to watch this one, probably looking out for a small rodent, like a vole, by far their most frequent food source, though they will eat earthworms, large insects, even sparrows in cities. Kestrels were

Kestrel

Beady eyed Kestrel

Kestrel

reserved for the lower status Knaves in medieval falconry, larger hawks being reserved for Knights. Hieararchies have been around for a very long time! Conditions: Another frosty, bright, dray day. Temperature: Max 2 Min 0C.

15th March 2018

The decline in Kestrels in many parts of the Uk is worrying but on our recent trip to the North East they were visible in their previous numbers. Such a delight, they are not usually persecuted as they take small rats, mice and voles, which are regarded by farmers as pests. In medieval falconry they were flown by knaves as they were

Kestrel

regarded as lower status than Peregrines etc. They can hover in a strong winds, keeping their heads completely still, like this one by St Mary’s lighthouse. Conditions: Another dull, wet day. Temperature: Max 8 Min 5c.

2nd February 2018

Kestrels are another of our birds in worrying decline, on the Amber list. We were lucky to see this one at Tree Sparrow Farm at Old Moor RSPB centre near Barnsley this week. Time was, you saw them on any long distance drive in England, but not now. The RSPB are carrying out research into their decline- preliminary findings point to the increased use of rat poison and changes in agriculture as responsible. Still trying for a good photo, but in the meantime…. Conditions: bright and dry. Temperature: Max 7- Min 2.