Sunday, 7 May 2017

Not a good place to be a vole!

The Saxon Mill, whilst a haven for all kinds of wildlife is becoming a less and less secure place to be a vole.

My last post retold my sighting of a Grey Heron hunting and catching a Bank Vole. Today whilst down on my patch, I saw a male Kestrel appear carrying a vole of his own.

The Kestrel looks like a young male to me. He has excellent plumage but seems quite small. The vole he has caught is just under half his weight. Judging by the length of the tail in relation to its body length I think that he has caught a Field Vole, furthermore the brown upperparts and grey underparts further distinguish it from a Bank Vole.

As I watched I was surprised that the Kestrel did not just eat the vole. In fact, he just sat there. Occasionally he would pick it up in his mouth as if he was about to take flight but didn't. Acting on a hunch I moved away down the path and stopped observing him directly. The tree he was in has been used as a nesting site in the past and last week I saw a pair of Kestrel by the tree. Once I was a bit further away the male picked up the vole and swooped down to the trunk of the tree.

I could then hear all sort of squawking and then out flew a female Kestrel carrying the vole. She took a perch lower down a tree and then flew off, the male, however, did not emerge.

It is my guess that the pair of Kestrels are nesting in the tree and the female was sitting on eggs. He was out hunting to feed the female. He returned but felt uncomfortable entering the nest itself whilst I was watching. He took the vole in and took his turn brooding the eggs enabling her to feed.