Kestrels (Falco tinnunculus) are still a familiar site hovering above fields looking for prey, even though they are declining in number. Look out for their long tails and pointed wings, and watch as they dive towards something they have seen from high above.
The Kestrel has given rise to the most famous bird of prey poem by Gerard Manley Hopkins, ‘The Windhover’ an old name which excellently describes this habit.
‘I caught this morning morning’s minion, kingdom of daylight’s dauphin, dapple-dawn-drawn Falcon, in his riding
Of the rolling level underneath him steady air, and striding
High there, how he rung upon the rein of a wimpling wing
In his ecstasy! Then off, off forth on swing,
As a skate’s heel sweeps smooth on a bow-bend: the hurl and gliding
Rebuffed the big wind. My heart in hiding
Stirred for a bird, - the achieve of, the mastery of the thing!’
Kestrels are found in a variety of habitats from heath to farmland and urban areas and do not favour dense forests. They can often be seen hovering above motorways or other main roads or perched on a high tree branch, or on a telephone post or wire, on the look out for prey.
It is possible to see the Kestrel at any of the nature reserves across the High Weald.