Hov­er­ing hunters are a fa­mil­iar sight

Kentish Express Ashford & District - - Countryfile -

I came across a kestrel which was be­ing ha­rassed by two car­rion crows last week. With the poor bird un­able to fly away it was taken into care. Kestrels are found across east Kent through­out the year, but dur­ing the spring and au­tumn their num­bers are sup­ple­mented by birds which mi­grate into Europe. Dur­ing the win­ter the odd bird are found any­where across our coun­try­side, but they are not as nu­mer­ous as the spar­rowhawk. The num­ber of kestrels seen hov­er­ing over mo­tor­way verges has de­clined over the decades. The kestrels on Dun­geness do take voles and mice, but they also will catch com­mon lizards and small birds as well. Male kestrels have a dis­tinc­tive grey head and tail, while fe­males are a more brown colour. Both sexes have a yel­low­ish bill and a big eye and the legs are a bright yel­low. Kestrels are fa­mil­iar to most of us be­cause they are found across the whole of the UK and have adapted to feed­ing and hov­er­ing on mo­tor­way grass verges look­ing for voles. They have a dis­tinc­tive method of hunt­ing which is to hover in one spot over a grassy area wait­ing for any move­ment. The se­cret to their hunt­ing suc­cess is to keep the head com­pletely still while they are hov­er­ing.

For more in­for­ma­tion con­tact Owen Leyshon, Rom­ney Marsh Coun­try­side Part­ner­ship, tele­phone 01797 367934 or log on to www.rmcp.co.uk

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