Sunday, 16 April 2017

Kestrel Hunting

I rather like Kestrels, they are the Falcon of my London childhood when all other birds of prey were rarities, their populations slowly recovering from the effects of chemical poisoning and human persecution. Kestrels were the bird of prey that I would see over my local parks and woods and which  I would use as my birding yardstick when as I grew more experienced I would encounter and attempt to identify other small raptors.

Male Kestrel about to clobber a rodent, Brancaster

But more than that, like all Falcons they are great to look at, elegant even. And what a skill it is to be able to hover in the wind like they do, but perhaps a skill it is easy to cease to wonder at because it is so common place.

In recent years Kestrel populations have suffered a decline and whilst they are still widespread and relatively common this population fall is enough to make you realise that like all of our wildlife we should not take them for granted.

Male Kestrel hunting

Yesterday I was walking in the sand dunes between Brancaster Beach and the golf links when I saw a hovering Kestrel hunting the long yellow and brown grass of the dunes. This male bird was holding steady in blustery North Westerly breeze, normally I would expect a Kestrel to make several half dives, falling from the sky and then aborting the dive halfway to the ground, but on this occasion its first dive was a success and it disappeared from view into the long grass. Eventually after a few minutes it rose back into the air and flew off.

Male Kestrel about to disappear into the long grass, Brancaster

I had a old DSLR with me with an even old 10 -300mm zoom lens and fired off a few shots. These have not come out as sharp as I would like but I quite like the way that they capture the essence of this small bird of prey and the coastal habitat that it has made its home.

Kestrel departing

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