Lockdown Kestrels.

A spring in lockdown. One of the top highlights during this time has been watching a Kestrels nest.

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Kestrels are found in a wide variety of habitats. They were common to spot when I was a child however in the late 70’s they declined and until about 5 years ago I rarely saw a kestrel.  In our area (Hampshire UK) they seem to be making a come back. They are now a familiar sight, hovering beside the motorway or our main roads. They can often be seen perched on a high tree branch, or on a telephone post or wire. I see them at the sea at Titchfield Haven, they love perching on the masts of the small vessels. They are found on moor and heathland but local to me they, are happy in both farmland and urban areas.

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Early in lockdown while looking in holes in Oak trees trying to spot Owls (unsuccessfully) we kept spotting a Kestrel around one tree. When passing we kept seeing a kestrel flying off from it. Watching from a distance we spotted the bird often returning to the tree and finally into a hole.  We had found a nest. The tree is just off a public footpath with a hole formed where a large branch had broken and fallen.


After a number of weeks watching the adults returning to the nest site, it appeared they were sitting and hopefully sitting on eggs, being very careful keeping a distance so as not to disturb them the waiting started. Interestingly one of the adult birds had been ringed in the past (you can spot the ring in the picture below).


Soon from a distance, we started to spot movement from the nest and occasionally a chick would pop up from inside the hole.  Using binoculars and telephoto lenses it appeared there were 3 chicks on the nest.  Little bundles of white fluff.

Early in June while watching it became clear that there were 4 chicks in the nest 2 of which were changing colour quicker than the others. In their white stage, they were like a light bulb in their hole but as their downy feathers changed they became darker and better camouflaged against the oak.

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below pictures 17th June 2020.

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Some Kestrel Facts.

They eat small mammals such as mice and birds, worms and insects. These birds have a special vision to track their prey. Their eyes have adapted to detect ultraviolet light, rodents leave trails of urine along the paths they use. Their urine emits ultraviolet light; providing hungry kestrels with a glowing path straight to their lunch.


UK breeding: 46,000 pairs

Not such a bright day on 18th June but through the rain a clear view of the 4 chicks the size difference is very noticeable. The youngster on the right in the picture is showing plumage of the adult. I am sure this bird is flight-ready.

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An afternoon visit on 20th June. Only 2 youngsters in the nest hole.

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One of the young birds then flew into the Oak Tree looking almost the same as its parents.



Below one of the parents arrived in the next door tree with a mouse for tea, holding it with its feet on a branch. It then picked it up in its beak, taking it to the hole.

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Like a flash, fed to the 2 chicks then off hunting again.


By 21st June only one bird remaining at the nest hole. No parents spotted 2 chicks in the branches of the next tree.

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One of the other young birds.




23rd June still one young bird staying in the nest hole. None of the others spotted in the trees. Although one parent bird hunting close to the nest.



24th June still one young bird staying in the nest hole.

Again on 26th the one young bird remaining in the hole on the edge with plenty of room and alert enough to spot anyone coming too close and can now pop in and almost disappear out of sight when he sees you.

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The young birds continue to be supported by the adult birds who are constantly hunting in the nearby fields.


27th June 2020. They are gone from the nest, but around in the nearby trees.

Perhaps another update next year?

Sadly some birds are at risk from both egg collectors and from people wanting to collect and sell their chicks for falconry so apart from my early post I decided not to post about this nest until now when the nest is empty.


A rest at the beach.

Turnstones resting on the beach, at Meon Shore near Titchfield Haven. Their colouring against the beach gravel shows these little birds camouflage is excellent at hiding them on the foreshore. 

I was able to creep up fairly so close my camouflage must have been not too bad.


Ruby Turnstones are often spotted working their way around large stones on rocky or gravelly shores. They flip over stones to look for food. It can even lift rocks as big as its own body. Although a migrant to the UK, it can be seen all year-round as different populations arrive throughout the seasons.


Although they don’t breed in the UK, they can be seen throughout the year as birds from northern Europe pass through in summer and again in spring. Birds from Canada & Greenland arrive in early autumn and leave in early summer.



Around Beacon Hill.


Some 13 miles drive from home takes me to Beacon Hill near Exton Hampshire. Situated on the Winchester end of the South DownsWay.

Views around Beacon Hill near Exton Hampshire.



Coming down off the hill towards Winchester the fields became blue with Flax plants.


Flax has been grown in Hampshire for several years The blue flower is a wildflower in California. Flax is grown for the oil of its seeds, (linseed oil) Flaxseeds are a golden yellow to reddish-brown colour. They contain phytoestrogens, which are similar to the hormone estrogen. Flaxseed oil contains the essential omega-3 fatty acid alpha-linolenic acid. Flaxseed has been eaten as a food or used as a medicine since 5000 BC.



Among the blue flowers were the odd white one.



When I started my lockdown walks the local Roe Deer were in their winter coats, they have now changed into their summer colours and there is a marked difference in both their coat texture and its colour, which now appear a lovely chestnut brown. I believe the pictures below are the same Roebuck photographed in March (top picture) and below this morning.

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Early on this mornings walk, I was quickly spotted by this Fox who watched from the fence line across the field.


Of the Roebucks on our patch, you get to know individual deer. I am sure this deer in the pictures above is the largest Buck and the dominant male in the area. The picture below is another Roebuck regularly seen always not far away from the females and the top male recognisable by his bent left antler.


Urban Pond.

Using google earth I noticed a park within a new housing estate a few minutes walk from our usual walking route. Google earth showed a good size pond on the edge of the park known as Dowds Farm. It was worth the detour.

Grey Heron fishing. According to a local, this bird visits most mornings.



On one side of the pond was a Moorhen’s nest.  The nest was full of chicks, well hidden in the reeds.