Kestrels Highways Project – Update Summer/Autumn 2015

This has been an excellent year for kestrels in our area. Thirty have been ringed, a new record for the Kestrel Highways Project in this area. This does not include the three chicks at Shapwick . The last ones were at Highbridge and Barrow Gurney. Barry thinks that all are now done, but will keep checking in case there are any late nesting birds.

As we checked our boxes at the start of spring 2015, we found kestrels taking an interest in nine of them; there was a lot of courtship feeding going on and things looked good. Unfortunately the temperatures then dipped and the kestrels seemed to lose enthusiasm. At Sidcot School the squirrels took over and at Biddisham a barn owl decided to move in. However kestrels still bred in seven boxes. First to produce young was the Ashton Court box, where Colin Morris ringed 5 young on the incredibly early date of 15th. May. This probably reflects the quality of the habitat created by Rangers Mark Cox and Julian Smart: There were “spare” voles in the box. Our kestrels are wild birds and survival is tough. At Langford we found 5 young, unfortunately two of them recently dead, possibly due to food shortage. At our box near Butcombe, though Ed and Colin ringed four young, a couple of weeks later I found the remains of one under the tree, probably ambushed by something at the fledging stage. But, a good year nonetheless, with 7 boxes used and 30 young ringed; our best total yet. We will have plenty of work to do in the coming months as a fair number of our boxes will need replacement. If anyone fancies making a box or two I have the standard plan. I might even have a go at making one myself, in spite of my poor carpentry skills.

As always, Barry would be pleased to receive any information on kestrel sightings in our area, or to hear from you if you would like to help with monitoring next year.  To let Barry know your sightings or to join the hardworking team, contact Barry by email by Clicking Here

Hovering kestrel
Hovering kestrel


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