I know, I know... the photo on the front page of this blog post isn't of kestrels but of red kites, innit? You're right, but I've not got decent photos of kestrels whereas I have of red kites. (How ridiculous is that to admit - but it's true - these days red kites are FAR more common 'round theez 'ere parrz than "windhovers").
Anyway... I digress...
As an aside to “800 yards of ‘mac”, which I blog about each month, I thought I’d quickly bring you a few 30 second videos of a pair of kestrels I’ve been filming – all shot within a few hundred yards of the strip of country road I write about.
These kestrels have set up a territory in what used to be little owl ville – regular visitors to this site may in fact remember the barn I videoed the little owls on appears again in these clips – it’s the same barn after all.
The little owls are still around (I regularly still see them), but they’re not obviously nesting in one of the three nest boxes put up in the three large oak trees next to this barn.
This year, the kestrels have taken over!
In fact, some of you may well remember that whilst I was shooting little owls a few years ago (I filmed them breeding in 2012, 2013 and 2014) I also took the video below of the female kestrel mobbing one of our adult owls before it bred.
As I filmed this five years ago, I’d suspect that the female kestrel I filmed yesterday is NOT the same bird as in this clip (kestrels often don’t live to two years old let alone five or six or seven although they can live into their early teens) but it may be I suppose – there’s no way of telling.
I’m particularly fond of owls (any type) so took great delight in finding and filming a pair of successfully-breeding little owls a few years ago – and would love to do so again… but kestrels are very pretty raptors, in a little trouble, population-wise – and are of course native to our shores, unlike the little owl – so I’m certainly very happy to film kestrels instead of owls this year.
On my walk through the farm yesterday I watched the kestrels from a few hundred yards away with a pair of binoculars, as my trail camera, already in place, two feet (yes, only two feet) from one of their favourite perches, rattled off 45 clips for me between 0530 in the morning and 1930 at night.
Luckily for me I’d set up the trail camera in pretty-well exactly the right spot to film the two adult kestrels mating – which they did at least twice during the day (once at 1135 - which I watched through binoculars from the field edge and at 1910 which I wasn’t there to see, but the trail camera filmed for me anyway).
In each mating, the male would fly in, give his mate a vole to eat, give her ten minutes to eat it (he’d sit out of shot, preening) and then jump on her for a bit of ‘ows yer farther?
For the clips above (this year), I used my newer trail camera with a close-up filter screwed into the main lens. This allows to me to focus on small things (smaller than kestrels ideally - it’s designed for blue tits rather than kestrels!) at a distance of between two and three feet ONLY.
This comes at a cost though – footage doesn’t come with a sense of surroundings; the birds HAVE to be on the EXACT spot the camera needs them to be in focus and they HAVE to STAY there.
Fine for static animals – but quite difficult to guarantee birds behaving so predictably (birds live in a very 3D world and can perch anywhere whereas us lowly mammals exist in a far more predictable 2D (if you see what I mean?) world.
Well... I certainly got lucky with the site I chose for the close-up camera, but I’ve now taken that camera down and replaced with my older trail camera which does not have a close-up lens and can focus on flighty critters at several spots in front of the lens as long as the subject(s) is(are) at least 8 feet from the trail camera.
All my little owl clips were shot with the old trail camera – you can see them all here – you’ll also note that the owls seem much further away in those clips than the kestrels in today’s clips – well… they are I suppose – 9 feet rather than 2!
I’ve waffled on enough. This was meant to be just a tiny sentence or two and a few clips to show you our beautiful pair of dashing kestrels gittin’ in awwwn at the local farm.
Have a lovely weekend grapple fans.
Catch you soon.
(Please note, with all the clips above, especially the you tube clips, please change your you tube settings (when playing the clip) to the highest quality to view the videos as they’re all shot in at least 720 pixel format, if not 1080).