Flora and fauna – something in the air

Something in the air 

You’ll have seen them hanging in the breeze above motorway verges, precisely adjusting wings, body and tail so as to keep the head dead still, like it was pinned to the background. The lovely old name for the kestrel is the ‘windhover’. 

Our most abundant bird of prey, the bread and butter for kestrels is the vole, though they’ll also take earthworms, insects and fledgling birds. Now then, voles don’t control their bladders like most mammals do, so urine kind of trickles out as and when. This is rather useful to our kestrel: its vision sees ultra-violet light, and a vole’s urine emits u/v light giving the bird a precise idea of the vole’s movements through the grass.

This handsome male was doing just that, sitting on a favoured tree watching for voles in the field (lots of voles this year).

Males have a lovely rich russet coloured back and grey head whilst females are generally browner.


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