You will recall from the last Post that we have kestrels nesting, high up in a little, deep-set window on the south wall of the house:
This window is through to a bathroom in the house, but the glass is frosted and so all one could see from the bathroom was some shadows and shapes. But one could tell that the adult kestrels were sometimes there, coming and going as they brought food for the babies (note: from the sources we've looked at, it seems that it is usually the female parent that stays with the chicks, while the male goes hunting. But in this case it was evident that both parents were leaving the nest from time to time).
The angle of vision up to the window makes any photography difficult and we did not want to start putting up ladders to get any closer or more level ..... so, we had some rather blurry shots of the babies ..... you can just see them here lurking at the back of the ledge:
By the end of the first week of July it looked as if the babies' fluff was starting to fall away and their new feathers were evident ... at least, on two of the birds, because at this point we were only seeing two and we wondered whether something had befallen Kestrel Minimus:
After lunch we were walking around the garden (it all sounds so civilised, doesn't it?), on the north side of the house and what did we see? It was Kestrel Major, hopping around a flower bed, in front of a large glass panel on the side of what we call 'the nook'. We have no photos, as we were not carrying 'devices' and it was not our priority. What we wanted to know was whether the kestrel was injured in any way. It was not too difficult to pick up the bird, gently taking him by the upper legs and ensuring his wings were cradled to the body, so there could be no flapping . It did not seem that there were any injuries and it did not feel like the bird was panicking .... just a cold stare, straight at me, and I felt his talons tighten on my hand, going through the light gardening gloves I had on, but not puncturing the skin. But imagine its power when fully grown, and imagine a really large falcon! We decided to carry him round to the south side of the house, where his nest is, so that the parents would have more chance of communicating. We knew that kestrels have a poor sense of smell and the adults would not reject their babies on account of alien scents. We put the kestrel in cardboard box, and placed this below the window ledge/nest and left it there.
Returning after a couple of hours the box was empty ..... but there was Kestrel Major, close by and quite high up in a particularly prickly climbing rose. Before we could do anything the kestrel extricated itself from the rose bush and half flapped and half flew into the trees and undergrowth that run along the side of one of the big fields adjoining the house. Then we saw it up in some tree branches, about twenty foot up, not much lower than its window ledge and nest. And beyond this tree is the small valley, with its bare-branched trees, where the parents flew and settled.
But last night we went to bed anxious - would Kestrel Major be alright; what if Kestrel Minor decided to fly; and where was Kestrel Minimus?
Up early this morning ..... and carefully around the house to look up at the window ledge - and, what do you think?
Phew! So, back to the garden table and umbrella (it's going to be a hot day) and a cup of coffee. Ah! - and who is that already draped around the table legs ....?