Kestrel

Falco tinnunculus

Kestrel (Falco tinnunculus)

The Kestrel feeds on small mammals, especially voles, and also beetles, lizards, earthworms, and small birds. They nest on ledges on cliffs, in quarries, derelict buildings, high window ledges, abandoned crow’s nests or tree holes. They lay 4 to 6 eggs in 1 brood, March to July. They can live for up to 15 years.

Present all year, although some move south in colder winters. Often seen perched on telephone poles, wires or trees, or hovering over fields and roadside verges. Common around woodland and heaths. In the 1970s the Kestrel suffered a decline in numbers most likely due to changes in farming. Its has also been in decline in farmland in recent years.

Photograph of Kestrel (Falco tinnunculus) taken March 2012, local wood, Staffordshire. © Pete Hillman 2012. Camera used Panasonic Lumix DMC-FZ38.

The Kill

Sparrowhawk (Accipiter nisus)

Sparrowhawk (Accipiter nisus) female

I photographed this magnificent bird through the glass of my bedroom window when I spotted it feeding on what appeared to be the remains of a Starling (Sturnus vulgaris). They sure do not waste anything.

Sparrowhawk (Accipiter nisus) female

The Sparrowhawk has bounced back in recent years after almost becoming extinct in some eastern counties of Britain. DDT in pesticides reduced their numbers by thinning their egg shells in the 1950s. It has now become one of the most abundant and widely distributed birds of prey. The male is smaller than the female. The male is a beautiful barred-orange below, with an orange face, and bluish-grey upperparts. The female is barred-grey below and has a pale line over the eyes.

Sparrowhawk (Accipiter nisus) female

They hunt small birds along hedges, woodland verges, or into gardens and finding birds at feeding stations. The males take tits and finches, where the females take thrushes, pigeons, and starlings. They nest on a small platform of thin twigs on a flat branch, and lay 4 or 5 eggs in 1 brood from March to June. They can live for up to 10 years.

Seen all year round, and found in woodland, hedgerows and gardens. Common and widespread, except for parts of the Scottish Highlands, the Western Isles and Shetland.

Photographs of Sparrowhawk (Accipiter nisus) taken November 2011, rear garden, Staffordshire. © Pete Hillman 2011. Camera used Panasonic Lumix DMC-FZ38.