There would appear to have been a large number of Peregrine eyrie failures in 2018 on the majority of the patch that our volunteers actively survey. Some sites not appearing to have attempted breeding, others having failed, some abandoning eggs after sitting full term.
However on the plus side, other SWP project work over the Autumn and Spring months are beginning to pay dividends. This weekend some of the team carried out the ringing of two Kestrel chicks in a box sited at a location in East Cornwall.
Originally the group were contacted as part of an enquiry for an owl box to be installed in the owners extensive gardens, as both Tawny and Barn Owl are often seen in adjoining fields to the property. This enquiry led to the further siting of a Kestrel box in another landowners field. The farmer told us that Kestrels have been seen here for many years, along with Buzzards and the Barn Owl pairing that occupies a purpose built box on a nearby timber structure;
however the Kestrels although regular seen had not known to have nested directly on the site, this it was thought probably through lack of suitable nesting options close to the fields and drainage ditches they can be seen quartering.
One sturdy tree was picked out and a box fitted. All you can do is then sit back and wait and it wasn’t long before a pair of Kestrels were seen this Spring showing an active interest after the post winter removal of a grey squirrel nest (drey) in the box. They were known to be nesting from early May, with the occasional nest relief being witnessed by the excited observers, who had not believed they would have taken to the box so quickly.
A quick observation last week identified two young were at the stage ready for ringing, the box at this time already filled with a plentiful bounty of field voles as well as a small passerine fledgling. Ringing itself was an easy process compared to some of the sites climbed to ring their coastal cousins the Peregrine falcon. A short ladder climb as opposed to a 150 foot abseil followed to reach the nest. All appropriate safety precautions still observed to satisfy the H&S conscious amongst us. Having bagged the young and a short ascent , the two chicks were ringed with an E size BTO recovery ring and two lightweight plastic collar identification rings to aid in observing them.
With this quick process completed, the chicks were returned to the nest box, this it must be said was ripe to say the least at this stage of their development.
Having withdrawn to check on Owl boxes (empty) the Adult pair were quickly back into the box, no doubt with further food offerings to the rapidly growing young. they will be in the box for another 2 weeks before they start the process to branching out and fledging; the next stages in their rapid development toward becoming self sufficient. Kestrels will hunt together in the family group over the coming months, honing their newly aquired skills.
SWP are happy to work with landowners in providing homes for birds, where suitable habitats exist.