As buzzards will always remind me of the Priory, so kestrels will always make me think of the Old Forge.
I see them hunting over the gardens and the surrounding fields almost every time I’m there.
Today was no exception. And I saw one closer than usual …
… as it perched on the house roof.
It had a good view from up there …
… to hunt over the gardens.
Sadly, rather than its usual prey of small mammals (voles, field mice, shrews and the like), the kestrel’s victim today was a swallow nestling. Swallows nest in an out-building at the very top of the gardens. And I had been very pleased; swallows and swifts zipping overhead will always make me think of the Old Forge too.
The parents mobbed the kestrel as it tore at the young swallow.
But as in my recent post The Fox and The Duck the mobbing had no effect. And the kestrel repeated its raids on the nest until all the nestlings were gone. Apparently, when food is plentiful (eg a nestful of baby birds), kestrels will cache food. Though alternatively, of course, it may have had young of its own to feed.
Even after the kestrel had emptied the nest …
… the swallows continued to …
… swoop down on the hawk.
Later, when the kestrel had returned to its vantage point on the roof, I watched a fearless chaffinch also have a go at it.
I think the kestrel might have been rather too close to the chaffinch’s nest. Fearless little chap though, eh?
The kestrel took wing again …
… and the swallows continued their harassment of it.
We can hope that this wasn’t the only brood raised by the swallows this year (they can have up to three – though I doubt that will happen in this cold, wet year). It was certainly upsetting to watch but I felt privileged to have seen such high drama at first hand.
But I do wish the kestrel would stick to voles.