Rap­tur­ous re­cep­tion for kestrel

Macclesfield Express - - WILDLIFE -

AR­RIV­ING at a na­ture re­serve just be­fore dawn is nice if you have a bit of com­pany – even if the com­pany is just eyeing you up as a pos­si­ble su­per-size meal.

As I got out of the car I spot­ted the kestrel hov­er­ing over an early break­fast be­low. The tal­ented bird dived down and van­ished.

Min­utes later it was on top of a post re­gard­ing me.

I got close enough to get a rea­son­able pho­to­graph of the small rap­tor be­fore it had plainly had enough of the at­ten­tion and flew away.

Con­sider how lucky we are to have these won­der­ful wildlife mo­ments here in the north west.

A week or so later we were film­ing with Coun­try­file and a kestrel flew in a straight line, like an ar­row, across our path.

Even the crew from Bri­tain’s favourite wildlife show let out an au­di­ble gasp.

Kestrels are one of our best-known birds of prey, of­ten seen hov­er­ing over fields or at the sides of roads where mam­mals are dis­turbed by the traf­fic.

They are on the look­out for field voles, their favourite food, and other small mam­mals like mice.

They are most ob­vi­ous when hov­er­ing with their pointed wings held out by the side.

Close up, males have a grey head with a prom­i­nent black band, a gin­gery back and a pale un­der­side.

The fe­male is sim­i­lar with a browner back and darker bands on the tail.

Kestrels are be­tween the black­bird and pi­geon in size and they can nest in holes in trees, old build­ings and old aban­doned nests.

They will lay be­tween four and five eggs and par­ents take it in turn to feed the chicks.

As pre­vi­ously men­tioned they are a bird that has ac­cepted hu­man­ity’s sprawl and can be found in towns and villages as well as in the coun­try­side. We have lots of records of them nest­ing in build­ings close to town cen­tres.

The Wildlife Trust for Lan­cashire, Manch­ester and North Mersey­side is ded­i­cated to the pro­tec­tion and pro­mo­tion of the wildlife in Lan­cashire, seven bor­oughs of Greater Manch­ester and four of Mersey­side, all ly­ing north of the River Mersey. It man­ages around 40 na­ture re­serves and 20 lo­cal na­ture re­serves cov­er­ing acres of wood­land, wet­land, up­land and meadow.

The trust has 27,000 mem­bers, and over 1,200 vol­un­teers.

To be­come a mem­ber of the trust, go to the web­site at lanc­swt.org. uk or call 01772 324129.

For more in­for­ma­tion about Cheshire Wildlife Trust, call 01948 820728 or go to cheshire wildlifetrust.org.uk.

David Cozens

Kestrels in Burn­ley town cen­tre

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