We have a dog, and a dog needs walks, which is how I noticed some years ago that there was a kestrel sitting on the power wires that go across the field that we walked down. I did not think much of it at the time but a few years later I read that kestrels were in serious decline so I decided to try and do something about it. I found some plans for a kestrel nest box and proceeded to make one. I then wrote a letter to Earl Bathurst for permission to put it in a beech tree down the field which looked suitable as a kestrel was still about. He replied, “By all means” – he even offered to pay for the nest box, but I explained I had already made one so one evening in the winter I put the box up in the beech tree. Nothing happened the next spring, so I tried to find out what the problem was. I discovered that the box was facing south which was not correct, it had to be facing east away from the prevailing weather. The next spring, we had success, I had noticed there was a male kestrel about and in due course two kestrels fledged. Brilliant. This was 2016. Nothing happened in 2017 and the female had not made an appearance that year but in 2018 another kestrel appeared, and it was a female, so we waited and in the spring a male arrived on the scene and lo and behold we had another success, two more youngsters fledged. This time the female stayed around through the winter and a male appeared in the spring of 2019. We waited with bated breath and we witnessed them mating. In due course we noticed there were three youngsters flitting about the tree with the box in so we had three more kestrels fledged.
Seven new kestrels in four years was beyond my expectations but that’s what happened, so I was elated.
A new nest box has been made for next year as the old one must be on its last legs, so fingers crossed.
by Bill Savage.