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Kestrels on the coast?

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Offline Technopat

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« on: April 11, 2007, 23:10 PM »
Greetings All,

7 p.m. very windy coastal cliff top in Asturias
Saw what I originally took to be Kestrel, but not so sure now after checking various sources: colouring was darker, golden, both above and below, and didn't have a white head. I saw it from various viewpoints: from the side (i.e. we were both at the same height), from above and below it. I had always taken for granted that, for camouflage, hovering b. of prey were lightly coloured underneath and darker when seen from above. This one blended perfectly with the bracken and dryish ferns, etc. from all angles.

Another thing that makes me doubt, and may just be due to artistic licence on the part of the illustrators, is that when hovering, its wings were not at all in a V-shape but totally horizontal to the rest of its body.

However, the real reason for my request for info. is not so much the identification of the bird as such, but a general doubt on Today's Science Topic: Aerodynamics.

Maybe I just missed that particular class, but all the basic aerodynamics I remember studying was related to staying up in the air AND moving forward at the same time. OK, so 'choppers do it, and I suppose that on a windless day, just about any bird could probably hover, even if only for a short while.

But in the case of my Kestrel (?), it was hovering in extremely high and gusty winds, no more than 10 metres from the ground, without moving a feather or shifting its position for many minutes at a time, before dropping a metre or so in altitude in two stages and then swooping slowly down on its prey. I watched four such swoops, but it didn't manage to nab anything.

On one occasion, it was attacked from above by a seagull (much bigger), but it just swerved to one side and took up its vigil at another point, and the seagulls went on their way. So while keeping its beady eye on the ground, it was obviously well aware of what was going on around it (maybe it could feel or hear the swoop of the gull?).

So just how did the ****  do it? I thought maybe with tiny rapid movements like maybe the hummingbird, but I could swear that it didn't move at all.

Intrigued regs.
Technopat

Ps. Unless someone else beats me to it, have a brief summary of Asturian dishes simmering away.

« Last Edit: January 24, 2008, 15:33 PM by Technopat »
Technopat's disclaimer: If this posting seems over the top and/or gets your goat (Sp. anyone?), please accept my apologies and don't take it personally - it's just my instinctive tendency to put my foot in it whenever/wherever possible. See also:
http://www.iberianatureforum.com/index.php/topic,266

Offline Dave

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« Reply #1 on: April 12, 2007, 13:10 PM »
Dear Technopat,
Could it possibly have been a Peregrine Falcon (Esp:Halcon Perigrino) (Lat:Falco peregrinus), they are certainly known to hover, and definitely live near Cliffs, as there one of their main prey is the Rock Dove(Esp: Paloma Bravia) (Lat: Columba livia). I am looking forward to a Asturian fabada recipe, can't beat them Asturian beans
Regards
Dave

Offline Technopat

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« Reply #2 on: April 12, 2007, 16:33 PM »
Greetings Dave,
Not sure 'bout Peregrine - have now had a butcher's at loads of pics. of hawks, falcons, etc. and none of them come even close and just confuse me even more! 'Spose at this time of year it would be young (?) but pretty sure that colouring was dark gold/brown and uniform. Guy who was with me was convinced that it was a hawk of some kind, while I more or less reckoned it was a K.
Will try to get him to return and see if the b. in question is a regular to that spot.
Regs.
Technopat
Oops! Forgot the habes!
(Only joking!)
Technopat's disclaimer: If this posting seems over the top and/or gets your goat (Sp. anyone?), please accept my apologies and don't take it personally - it's just my instinctive tendency to put my foot in it whenever/wherever possible. See also:
http://www.iberianatureforum.com/index.php/topic,266

Offline lucy

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« Reply #3 on: April 12, 2007, 20:24 PM »
Hi Technopat,  your description of the bird's movement sounds exactly like a kestrel, especially the way it remained completely immobile before dropping down in stages.  But from underneath kestrels are white and speckled, and when they fan out their tails you can see a black line near the edge.  Could it have been the light that made it looker darker?

Offline Technopat

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« Reply #4 on: April 12, 2007, 20:42 PM »
Greetings Lucy,
Pretty sure that it wasn't white and speckled underneath, but as you say, there could have been an effect of the light and the bracken (plus the sea in the background) - I was pretty sure that it was a K. from the general shape but the colouring has thrown me. It would certainly make sense for anything that hovers to have a light-coloured tum.

If it is/was/were a Kestrel (or whatever), how territorial would it be - i.e. would it return to the same place every day at the same time? If so, I'll get my Asturian mate to take a snapshot and make his first contrib. to the forum. The viewpoint really was spectacular, and as I mentioned, it was possible to see her/him/it from every angle.

Regs.
Technopat
Technopat's disclaimer: If this posting seems over the top and/or gets your goat (Sp. anyone?), please accept my apologies and don't take it personally - it's just my instinctive tendency to put my foot in it whenever/wherever possible. See also:
http://www.iberianatureforum.com/index.php/topic,266

Offline Technopat

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« Reply #5 on: April 13, 2007, 00:09 AM »
Greetings All,
Right, beginning to get somewhere, but still not to the main theme (how do they manage to stay hovering so motionless(ly?) in such a strong headwind?)

While waiting for photo confirmation, going on the working assumption (but still convinced that it ain't) that it is the Common Kestrel Falco tinnunculus - so it's time to put a Sp. name to it: Cerní­calo Común.

Have come across another possibility which convinces me slightly more, but again, with reservations:

Lesser Kestrel - Cerní­calo Primilla Falco naumanni, which according to one Sp. source: plumaje marrón homogéneo and is apparently on Spain's list of Endangered Birds, but haven't checked yet. It only eats insects caught from the ground, so might explain why the one I saw apparently never caught anything - I had expected him/her/it to nab small rodents, etc.

There is also a sub-species Falco tinnunculus canariensis but haven't time to look into it yet.

Regs.
Technopat
« Last Edit: August 03, 2007, 18:12 PM by Technopat »
Technopat's disclaimer: If this posting seems over the top and/or gets your goat (Sp. anyone?), please accept my apologies and don't take it personally - it's just my instinctive tendency to put my foot in it whenever/wherever possible. See also:
http://www.iberianatureforum.com/index.php/topic,266

Offline spanishfreelander

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« Reply #6 on: August 03, 2007, 17:24 PM »
Hi all,
We have a couple of breeding pairs of kestrels that nest around the castle...ive attached a couple of pics i took while one was hovering.
Quite a long way up so apologies for the pic in advance.
I thought at first they may have been "lesser Kestrels"..but the book points to an ordinary Kestrel.
Beautiful Though
Dave

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« Reply #7 on: August 05, 2007, 22:42 PM »
Just to literally point out the pointed tail and very clean white underparts on your 2 excellent pictures, show your birds as Lesser Kestrel. It is always good to look at the tail of this particularly handsome bird, the black terminal band always comes to a point (the 2 central tail feathers are longer), whereas the common Kestrel has a square terminal band when closed and fan shaped if the tail is spread. Sure these points are made in most fieldguides, but sometimes they don't make the obvious easy and concentrate on more obscure field marks/tips.  :booklook:

Techy: Would have no doubt your bird was Kestrel and if dark, not just poor light, then most likely female.

Peter
www.spanishbirds.com


Offline Technopat

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« Reply #8 on: August 05, 2007, 23:28 PM »
Greetings Peter,
Many thanx for that confirmation - thought I was going nuts! Yet again!
Could it have been the Lesser one?
Relieved regs.,
Technopat
Ps.
My mate up in Asturias has returned several times to the same place and more or less at the same time of day, to no avail. Are they territorial or do they just turn up wherever their fancy takes 'em?
Technopat's disclaimer: If this posting seems over the top and/or gets your goat (Sp. anyone?), please accept my apologies and don't take it personally - it's just my instinctive tendency to put my foot in it whenever/wherever possible. See also:
http://www.iberianatureforum.com/index.php/topic,266

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« Reply #9 on: August 06, 2007, 17:32 PM »
Hi TP,

I would say no to the Lesser, both male and female are pale underside, but of course male much more so. If you take a peek of the 2 photos above they are both female Lesser. Yours much more likely to have been female Kestrel with darker underside.

Not being able to find your bird again means it is very possible your bird could have been a migrant. Migrants include major trans-Saharan element. Winter range extends from Britain and Ireland, southern Fenno-Scandia, Poland, Ukraine, and Caucasus, south to Gulf of Guinea, Angola, Zambia, Malawi, and less desiccated parts of Near East and Arabia. Return movement, often in loose flocks associated with Lesser Kestrel, begins southern areas in February, and most have left tropics by late April. Exact timing of movements from south of the Sahara probably dependent on rains and their effect on insect food. Peak passage at Cap Bon (Tunisia) late March to late April.

Hope the above is helpful.

Peter
www.spanishbirds.com

Offline Technopat

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« Reply #10 on: August 06, 2007, 17:47 PM »
Greetings Peter,
Many thanx for that.
Upshot is that I shall certainly keep my eyes peeled for future sightings - I still can't get over the mechanics of the thing in that wind - while hovering it didn't budge, while we were having to hold onto our hats (well, we would have done if we'd been wearing any) - amazing!
Regs.
Technopat
Ps.
The reason I thought Lesser was 'cos of a web site I'd visited to check up on kestrels said that they were all brown - I know you've already mentioned it, but some of those descriptions out there are certainly off-putting and/or confusing  :banghead:, to say the least!
« Last Edit: August 06, 2007, 18:00 PM by Technopat »
Technopat's disclaimer: If this posting seems over the top and/or gets your goat (Sp. anyone?), please accept my apologies and don't take it personally - it's just my instinctive tendency to put my foot in it whenever/wherever possible. See also:
http://www.iberianatureforum.com/index.php/topic,266

Offline Technopat

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« Reply #11 on: August 06, 2007, 17:59 PM »
Greetings Peter,
Re. your pale underside (well, the kestrel's), I remember originally taking for granted that a hovering bird would naturally have a pale u. for camouflage reasons - so why would hovering or soaring birds have darkish/goldenish bellies - i.e. female doesn't hunt as much as male?
Regs.
Technopat
« Last Edit: August 06, 2007, 18:03 PM by Technopat »
Technopat's disclaimer: If this posting seems over the top and/or gets your goat (Sp. anyone?), please accept my apologies and don't take it personally - it's just my instinctive tendency to put my foot in it whenever/wherever possible. See also:
http://www.iberianatureforum.com/index.php/topic,266

Offline spanishfreelander

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« Reply #12 on: August 06, 2007, 18:24 PM »
Thanks for the info peter,
been away to Extremadura for a few days,hence the late reply.
Dave

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« Reply #13 on: August 06, 2007, 19:35 PM »
Evenin'

Dark underside is by no means uncommon in hovering/soaring raptors i.e. Dark phase Booted Eagle, Dark phase Common Buzzard, Golden Eagle etc., etc....

I think your last remark might get you in to trouble again with the other side! Females, especially when there are young around, feed more than males (or at least when the young are well developed). Of course, given most raptor females are larger than males, one might suppose they need to feed either more or on larger prey. Having said that, males are normally better looking!!

Peter
www.spanishbirds.com

Offline spanishfreelander

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« Reply #14 on: August 06, 2007, 21:21 PM »
Hi Peter,
I noticed where we live...theres loads and loads of pigeons flying around at the same time and place as the lesser kestrels.
The kestrels and the pigeons dont seem to bat an eyelid at each other at all.
Do the lesser Kestrels prefer more "sparrow" sized prey and thats why the pigeons dont seem to be afraid of them?
I must admit,a pigeon is quite a large meal for a lesser kestrel,would they even be able to "lift" off with it if they "hit" it?
Dave
« Last Edit: August 06, 2007, 21:39 PM by spanishfreelander »

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« Reply #15 on: August 06, 2007, 21:31 PM »
Hi Dave,

They actually often co-exist with pigeons, they both love cliff faces, ruins and old buildings etc. Lessers are mostly feeding on large insect such as grasshoppers etc. They will take small birds and reptiles, but insects are their main source of food. I have seen a female common Kestrel take a Redshank in Cornwall, but must have been desperate!

Peter
www.spanishbirds.com

Offline spanishfreelander

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« Reply #16 on: August 07, 2007, 15:05 PM »
Hi Peter,
Are these Lesser Kestrels resident here in Spain,or do they migrate to sunnier climes in the winter?
Cant remember seeing them last winter here,but as we were new to the area,we had a lot of things to occupy us.
Dave

Offline Dave

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« Reply #17 on: August 07, 2007, 16:48 PM »
hi Dave and All
this thread contains info about the relationship between Pigeons and Lesser Kestrels in Villafafila reserve, Zamora, as far as I know they are resident there, and in large numbers
http://www.iberianatureforum.com/index.php/topic,222.0.html
Regards
Dave

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« Reply #18 on: August 07, 2007, 17:24 PM »
Hi Peter,
Are these Lesser Kestrels resident here in Spain,or do they migrate to sunnier climes in the winter?

Hi spanishfreelander (Dave),

In our neck of the woods they are migrants. A very few areas hold resident birds, but the vast majority are migrants.

Peter
www.spanishbirds.com

Offline Technopat

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« Reply #19 on: August 07, 2007, 23:54 PM »
Greetings Peter and All,
Only just seen your reply to mine above (or below - can never work it out) or would have replied sooner.
Re. your
Quote
Having said that, males are normally better looking!!
Couldn't agree more, tho' political correctness prevents one mentioning any specific birds, of course.

On the other hand, this whole thing 'bout camouflage has always fascinated me - are there any reliable, meaningless stats. as to the number of brightly-coloured daft male birds hunted in the wild (i.e. not at organised shoots within a closed area) compared to the more discreetly-coloured (dare I say, drab,?) female? Maybe I should put this one  :technodevil: here rather than the  >:D I was going to put.
 
Regs.
Technopat
Technopat's disclaimer: If this posting seems over the top and/or gets your goat (Sp. anyone?), please accept my apologies and don't take it personally - it's just my instinctive tendency to put my foot in it whenever/wherever possible. See also:
http://www.iberianatureforum.com/index.php/topic,266