Posted by: Andrew Skelton | 28/02/2011

No favouritism

I think no less of our Common Kestrel as I do this charming Greater Kestrel.. anyway who say’s it’s Greater? Does it hover better? Oh, I see, silly me.. it’s referring to the birds relative size to the other Kestrel species, as opposed to it’s abilities.

Anyway, glad we cleared that up; so this Greater Kestrel was taken at the International Birds of Prey Centre, which some of you will know I’ve already written about. With little in the way of a key light source to illuminate the bird sufficiently, due to the inclement weather, I had to rely on the camera’s capability to utilise high ISO levels to get this shot.

I do think the Common Kestrel, the one indigenous to the UK, is a much more attractive bird. With a deeper russet back, black/grey tail feathers, black primary feathers as well as the distinctive grey head these birds used to be a common site along side motorway embankments, in fact it used to be the most abundant species of the raptor family in the UK. Numbers started to decline in the 1970’s, thought to be due to a change in farming practise, so much so that the Common Buzzard has now replaced the Kestrel in the Top of The Pop for Raptor Population numbers.

The Kestrel is the only UK bird that can actually hover, but this isn’t a natural inbuilt talent. Parental birds have to teach their progeny this skill, in genetic’s terms it’s a case of Nurture over Nature.

These birds do not venture too far from their home patch, and have preferred perches to sit and observe from. This does make them a little bit more predictable, than birds that roam the skies, which is perfect for a photographer. I know of two local Kestrel and their designated observation posts and with the better weather returning I’ll be out with my camera gear to try and do justice to this most delightful falcon… common or not!


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