My best wildlife encounter by far last weekend involved a very friendly Kestrel. And when I say very I do mean very. We were having a spot of lunch sat on the rocks just around from Oxwich Point when Emma indicated that I should turn around pretty sharpish. I duly did and found that a Kestrel had landed on the adjacent rock outcrop, a position from which it was now studying us closely. It obviously liked what it saw as it allowed me to approach to within a couple of meters, something that is almost unheard of with any bird species let alone Kestrels.

24967 - Kestrel, Oxwich Point
24972 - Kestrel, Oxwich Point

Only on two occasions did it take to the wing while we were present. The first was to snatch a passing butterfly straight out of the air, and the second was to catch a Lizard that had been sunning itself on a nearby rock. The Lizard in particular was very impressive partly because I hadn’t even realised that it was there and secondly because I caught the whole thing on camera. Those of you who don’t wish to see a reptile being torn in two may want to look away now.

24985 - Kestrel, Oxwich Point
24984 - Kestrel, Oxwich Point
24983 - Kestrel, Oxwich Point

Simply amazing and definitely up there with my all time best nature moments. Eventually though all good things must come to an end and in this case we were the ones to end the spectacle as we needed to get a move on. One of our party was keen to get some fishing in so we moved about a mile further along the coast and set up at a likely looking spot. Barely ten minutes later and who should pop up again but the Kestrel! This time it had landed just next to our bags and if anything was even closer than previously. I’d like to think that it had followed us out of curiosity but we will never know for certain. Whatever the reason I consider myself incredibly fortunate.

24964 - Kestrel, Oxwich Point

Along with the usual Curlews, Oystercatchers, Cormorants and Grey Herons, Oxwich Point had one last surprise to throw at us. Whilst watching the wreck of the Solar emerge from its watery grave on a lowering tide the following immature Peregrine Falcon landed up on a nearby cliff.

24956 - Peregrine Falcon, Oxwich Point

Though not as tame as our fantastic Kestrel it was still way more accommodating than I have ever known another Peregrine to be. The reason for this soon became clear as with every step the bird took an accompanying bell would ring. A clear view of its feet explained everything. Unless evolution has taken an extremely strange twist then this is an escaped falconry bird, most likely from the nearby Perriswood Falconry Centre. So not truly wild but great to see nonetheless.


19 Comments

TexWisGirl · September 4, 2011 at 6:36 pm

wow! you were having a raptor-whisperer moment! great shots!

Bob Bushell · September 4, 2011 at 6:53 pm

Brilliant, you can do that so well, raptors.

theconstantwalker · September 4, 2011 at 8:09 pm

Fantastic birds to see Adam…I had a surprise closeup view of Goshawks today.
I love our rapters.

Unknown · September 4, 2011 at 11:48 pm

What a great post, Adam!! Boom & Gary of the Vermilon River, Canada.

Martha Z · September 5, 2011 at 5:17 am

You must have been in an enchanted forest. Both of these birds have eluded my camera. I've never gotten close enough to either to get a shot. This is an amazing series.

PCF · September 5, 2011 at 8:58 am

Great description of a cracking encounter

Caroline Gill · September 5, 2011 at 5:08 pm

What an incredible expedition, Adam … and so close to home!

Adam Tilt · September 5, 2011 at 10:04 pm

TexWisGirl – I whisper and they come.

Bob – thank you.

Andrew – now Goshawk is a bird I'd love to see. Nice one.

Gary – thanks.

Martha – neither had I until this happened. Don't give up as I'm sure it will happen eventually.

PCF – thanks very much.

Caroline – being close to home always makes these encounters just that little bit more special.

holdingmoments · September 6, 2011 at 7:58 pm

Amazing encounters Adam.
The Kestrel shots are simply stunning, as is the Peregrine.

joo · September 6, 2011 at 10:22 pm

Such a lovely post, Adam!

Fjällripan · September 6, 2011 at 10:38 pm

Wonderful photos of those two beautiful birds!!

mick · September 7, 2011 at 12:24 am

How wonderful to get so close to both birds and to see the kestrel hunting for food as well. Great photos.

eileeninmd · September 7, 2011 at 10:11 am

Cool series on the Kestrel. And great shot of the Falcon. They are awesome looking birds.

Modesto Viegas · September 7, 2011 at 1:58 pm

Good series!

Hilke Breder · September 7, 2011 at 8:36 pm

Fantastic experience, Adam. Wonderful pictures! Do think maybe that the Kestrel was an escaped bird too? Maybe a wild nestling reared as a tame pet? It's hard to reconcile its behavior with that of a normal wild raptor.

Springman · September 7, 2011 at 8:44 pm

What a collection Adam! Kestrels are a tough catch, these beauties are a real testament to your dedication to bird photography. I can't remember seeing better. Then, you tack on a juvie falcon to ice the cake with. Perfect post and a wonder to see. Congratulations!

Anonymous · September 7, 2011 at 11:48 pm

What amazing shots! They are such beautiful birds!

Adam Tilt · September 15, 2011 at 9:01 pm

Keith – thanks very much. It really was amazing.

Joo, Fjällripan – thank you very much.

Mick – watching the hunting was definitely the highlight of the whole encounter. It's so rare to see that kind of behaviour up close.

Eileeninmd – definitely a couple of our best birds.

Hilke – always a possibility but I think the Kestrel may have been a young bird who just hadn't had chance to build up a fear of humans yet.

Springman – thank you. I've never had much luck with Kestrels prior to this so I am exceedingly happy.

talktone – thanks for the link. Not sure if the bird would have travelled this far south though.

Bailey-road – thanks.

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