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Welcome to my Kestrel Cam where I collate the best video clips of the kestrel pair living in my garden from cameras hidden inside and outside my nest boxes. The male kestrel has lived here for 11 years now and I’ve followed his daily life for so long he has become an old friend. His nickname is Kes, after the kestrel in the Ken Loach feature film of the same name. Sadly Kes’ long-term partner died last year. But his new mate, a former mistress of Kes’ whom I call ‘Semi-Colon’ after the unusual markings on her tail feathers, seems to have taken on the role of new Mrs Kes quite comfortably. (Click here to read my post on how I got to know Kes and how I discovered his infidelity last year).
My cameras run 24 hours a day so that I don’t miss a moment’s action, but rather than you having to watch a live camera, when often there is nothing to see for hours, I’ve only selected the best clips here. I plan to post these as I get them. Don’t forget to keep checking in to see the latest and follow the individual stories of the kestrels living in my garden as they unfold.
April 14th, 2018, continued:
After the fight described below I got very worried because the female kestrel, whom I am expecting will lay her first egg any day now, disappeared along with Mr Kes for several hours. I was scared they may have decided to lay elsewhere and even drove out to see if I could find them. I spotted them prospecting by the beech stump, which is situated at the bottom of the valley below my house, but thankfully before the day ended they were back in this sycamore stump and I watched a beautiful food pass between them which suggest all is well. I’ve been watching the sycamore stump closely to see if I can discover why the barn owls keep occupying it since they have already adopted the elm stump and seem quite settled there so they don’t really need this box. I think that what is happening in accidental rather than deliberate. The barn owls fly around the garden at night and often as they fly past the kestrels are roosting just outside the sycamore stump rather than inside it. The female kestrel can be aggressive and as a barn owl passes, she tends to fly at it. The owl then takes refuge inside the stump and then finds itself trapped
April 14th, 2018
The standoff between the kestrel pair and the barn owls that keep flying into their nest box has continued on and off for weeks, but today it reached a climax with a 45 minute standoff inside the sycamore stump. The female kestrel is increasingly distressed and calls and shrieks loudly throughout. Make sure you watch the above clip with the sound on. Watch the kestrel as she spreads out her wings and steps towards the barn owl squawking incessantly. Wouldn’t you if you found someone inside your house and they refused to get out despite you shouting at them for 45 minutes? The female barn owl barely budges throughout. Of course it doesn’t occur to the kestrel that she is blocking the entrance so the barn owl can’t actually get past her.Eventually the kestrel gives up and flies out, followed hard by the female barn owl. inside!
Watch this! The nest cam picked up the female kestrel poised at the entrance to the ash nest box for what seemed like hours. When I reeled back in time I discovered the issue. A female barn owl was inside. The kestrel was blocking its exit menancingly.What happened next was alarming. The male barn owl flew down and tried to barge its way in to rescue its mate. But its valiant efforts were short-lived as the kestrel grabbed it and threw it out. They grappled in midair and whilst they were away the female made her getaway. The male then returned to occupy the box. But this wasn’t the end because within minutes the kestrel returned and now her lengthy stand off continues. This deadlock lasts throughout the night! UPDATE: the kestrel continued to stand blocking the entrance to the box for most of the following day!
April 5th, 2018
The bond between the kestrels in my garden is not always loving. Again my cameras have picked up a tug of war rather than a food pass between them! It is usual for the male to hunt and catch food for the female during courtship, the process establishes a strong bond between them and ensures that the male will be able to provide when the chicks hatch. But in this clip the femal snatches a mouse from the male and the male is reluctant to hand it over!
April 4th, 2018
The courtship between Mr & the new Mrs Kes continues. Today the camera outside the sycamore stump captured this beautiful footage of Mr Kes passing a lizard he has caught to his mate. Known as ‘food passes’ these exchanges are an essential part of their courtship. Common lizards are actually quite uncommon here in Thixendale, but Mr Kes seems to find them.
March 27th, 2018
Today’s footage shows the new Mrs Kes snatch an offering from Kes! It’s been raining all day and both birds are bedraggled. Neither seem in the mood for the subtle behaviour required of a loving courtship! A male kestrel would normally catch food for a prospective mate as part of their courtship routine, but here Kes seems reluctant to let go and his mate isn’t prepared to wait for the courtesy of being offered the token either. She just wrestles it out of his grasp! But stay with me because what happens next is interesting.
But Mr Kes gets his reward in the end because after his Mrs snatched his offering out of his grasp, she returned to the mating post and obliged!
March 9th, 2018
Watch this beautiful sunrise on the Yorkshire Wolds. My cameras captured the peaceful moment when the sun climbed over the hills with the kestrel in the foreground. Sometimes there is no story, but the images are so perfect I’ve included them just to share!
March 7th, 2018
Watch this lovely sequence of the kestrel pair’s courtship as it unfolds. They are prospecting for nesting sites in preparation for the breeding season and the male hopes to attract the female to a nest box I made from an old sycamore stump. My wildlife cameras follow the story as the male returns to the site with a wood mouse hoping to attract the female with this offering. She comes to inspect but quickly flies away. Make sure you watch this with the sound on as the sounds the male makes as he calls the female in to the box is really interesting.
February 27th, 2018
As a savage weather front from Eastern Europe known as the ‘Beast from the East’ hit the Yorkshire Wolds my wildlife cameras picked up this incredible footage of the kestrel pair in the garden on the feeding post as the snow continued to fall in the background. Watch as the female devoured the food I left on the post whilst the male looked on. He bends his head as if begging for some, but she stubbornly refuses to share.
February 19th, 2018
The field behind the kestrel’s mating post was ploughed up today. Interestingly the activity didn’t disturb the kestrels and this footage shows the male coming in and perching for a while. It only moves at the last moment. I can’t wait to see the crop that will be planted there turn green for spring.
I like to put props up for birds where the background will make a good backdrop in my paintings. I painted the picture below directly from a photograph of the male kestrel posed on a prop in front of a wheat field that was still green.
January 30th, 2018
The kestrel pair have been using the post I put out for them outside the nest box to mate on. It is early for them to actually be mating now, and actually this is more like foreplay. It is unlikely the female will not be fertilised. The kestrels have spent the last few weeks doing this. Their activity is an important part of establishing a strong bond which should prove unbreakable when the breeding season begins since they will need to support one another as they bring up a brood of chicks.
Enjoy this? Check out my other nest cam blogs below:
Author: Robert E Fuller