martes, 25 de mayo de 2010

Common Kestrel (Late May 2010)

The most abundant diurnal raptor on the Canary Islands, the Common Kestrel (Falco tinnunculus), is encountered as two sub-species: canariensis on the central and western isles, and dacotiae on the eastern ones.

The species nests in cavities and ledges on rock faces, in pine trees and palms, in old crow and pigeon nests, in holes in the ground, and in derelict buildings, bridges and walls - such as the one shown above. In the photgraph, the nest cavity can be seen in the centre, roughly two thirds up the natural stone part of the wall, about 5 metres from ground-level at that point.
The four young chicks on the day the nest was first discovered (May 16th), with large amounts of fluffy white down still covering their bodies.
Only the male bird appears to deliver food to the nest, but all observations to date have been in the late afternoon. Perhaps mother feeds the chicks at other times of the day?
The fourth member of the family is hidden inside the cavity, which is becoming increasingly cramped as the birds grow.
Another meal is handed over: first come, first served!
Lizards form a basic part of the kestrel's diet, although mice and large insects, such as dragon-flies, are also caught. The latter are typically plucked from the surface of ponds, and moorhen chicks are also predated on in this way.
This recent image (May 25th) shows three of the young birds already clambering around on the wall outside the nest: the slightly less-developed runt is also visible inside the cavity. With luck, all four chicks will soon be fledged...

Note that all photgraphs (except the first) were taken from under a camouflage net at a distance of 20-30 metres, using a 400mm lens, to minimise disturbance.

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