Saturday, 19 November 2016

" Windhover "

The "Windhover"  an appropriate name sometimes given to this superb looking Kestrel, and it's not hard to understand how this small hawk got this nickname. It's a familiar sight in open country, often seen poised hovering over a motorway verge, seemingly motionless before it plunges down into the grass on an unsuspecting victim.
 I believe its favoured food is the Short tailed vole, but I have seen them eating lizards, its rumoured they will also take small birds but that's something I have never witnessed as yet.

Whenever I see one, I am always tempted to try and get that classic photograph of the Kestrel in mid hover, never seems to work for me, just can't get close enough for a detailed shot, usually as I try to edge closer and closer they suddenly glide off in the opposite direction to take up that classic pose once again just out of camera range.

A brief encounter the other day at Rainham gave me a short window of opportunity, I managed to get the photograph of the pose but too distant and cropping the photograph didn't really help.
So this is the pose I'm after, preferably a male, but the female's quite attractive too, in mid-hover and close enough to get some detail.

The European Kestrel (Falco tinnunculus)

I did manage to get quite a few of the headless shots, reminiscent of the headless illustration shown in Reverend Francis Orpen Morris  volumes  History of British Birds.

I love reading these old bird references, quite dated now as they were first published around 1850, the wood engraved illustrations always appear out of proportion when compared to today's standards, but they have a certain charm to them which I really admire. 
The print of the Kestrel that appeared in the volume at the time caused some controversy and discussion because it appeared to show a "headless bird " but this was a genuine attempt to portray the bird in a life-like manner, see my photograph.

Here's a paragraph taken from the text of Reverend Francis Orpen Morris  volumes  History of British Birds. in which he quotes an interesting and rather shocking reference to the Kestrel

These birds appear to be of a pugnacious disposition. J. W. G. Spicer, Esq., of Esher Place, Surrey, writing in the 'Zoologist,' pages 654-5, says, 'all of a sudden, from two trees near me, and about fifty yards apart, two Hawks rushed simultaneously at each other, and began fighting most furiously, screaming and tumbling over and over in the air. I fired and shot them both, and they were so firmly grappled together by their talons, that I could hardly separate them, though dead. They were both hen Kestrels. 

Fortunately we now have camera's to record such events instead of blasting them out of the sky.

 My quest for that perfect shot ( photograph ) continues along with many others.

1 comment:

  1. I've not yet been able to get a decent shot of one! As I get the camera out, the bird decides on a better hunting spot further away