2013 KESTREL SUMMARIES SCOTLAND
ORKNEY RSG Stuart Williams
It was a poor year for kestrels in Orkney, sites which are nearly always successful failed. This is attributed to a poor vole year as short eared owls fared badly as well. Thirty sites were checked, 10 pairs bred, two probable, two had birds present but no breeding activity noticed and 16 had no birds present. Of the twelve breeding pairs checked only four were successful, one failed at the brood stage, the others either pre-laying or clutch. Twelve chicks were fledged from the four successful pairs.
CENTRAL SCOTLAND RSG Anna-Marie Dennis
In Central Scotland area 55 sites were checked, 20 being occupied. This figure looks slightly worse than it really is, as the total of sites includes a number of nest boxes in the study area which are not known territories. Clutches were laid in 13 sites and only one pair failed to fledge young.
Brood size ranged from a one to five averaging 3.75, a minimum of 45 young were fledged. The female of the pair which failed after egg laying was predated. Thirty of the chicks were ringed and also colour ringed.
The weather was very cold at the start of the breeding season and laying seemed to be at least a week behind 2012.
During 2013 the co-ordinator starting collecting records of casual sightings of kestrels from RSG group members, and also from Scottish Wildlife Trust Local Group members. These are being mapped with the intention of identifying areas to target for monitoring. Sightings have been very low, and we are hoping to extend casual sighting records this year through contacts with National Park Rangers and other interested groups.
The majority of the sites we monitor are natural ones, but we have three main study areas with boxes. These are from Flanders Moss to Stirling, around Callandar, and from Clackmannanshire to Falkirk. There are also quite a number of monitored kestrel boxes on Forestry Commission land in the Trossachs. We are gradually increasing the number of boxes and also plan to try artificial baskets to replicate old crow nests.
UIST RSG Andrew Stevenson
Productivity for several raptors was poor this year, probably due to the cold spring and a stormy May. In North Uist three pairs were recorded with one and two young fledged at two sites, the outcome unknown at the third. The pair with one young fledged in a quarry site where they used an old raven nest – there were two large young but only one fledged successfully. On Benencula one pair were noted which almost certainly had young as the pair were behaving in an agitated manor. Nine pairs were recorded on South Uist with 1x1, 5x2 and 2x3 fledged young and one outcome unknown. Most of these pairs bred on large crags on the east side of South Uist some very close to golden eagle nests.
The most interesting record was of a pair nesting within 20m of a successful merlin nest. Both these nests were new locations found by AS who recorded two nearly fledged kestrels in the company of the young fledged merlins. The merlins had fledged four young from a nest in a small heathery knoll and the kestrels had nested on the other side of it on a sheltered burn gully on a small heather bank. The two juvenile kestrels had no parents nearby but were flying with short primaries and tails. The female merlin was certainly making up for the lack of parent kestrels.
ISLE OF EIGG John Chester
A very poor breeding season with only three – four pairs thought to have bred and only the odd fledged juvenile seen. First display noted on 2 April and first fledged young seen on 15 July. Present throughout the year with fairly regular sightings. Three together at Kildonan during mid October.
ISLE OF ARRAN Terry Southall and James Cassels
Three broods ringed by TS all with good sized broods, two of five and one of six young and birds were seen carrying prey into sites at three other territories but at another the pair were absent in June. Caches of voles were recorded at breeding sites an indication of a good vole year. Fledged young (not necessarily fully broods) were noted by other observers at five other sites, two singles, two of twos and a three. A wider survey is planned for the 2014 season.
LOTHIAN AND BORDERS Caroline Blackie
Last winter numerous kestrel nest boxes were erected in the south of the area in habitat which appears to be ideal and also in places where kestrels have been regularly seen. So far these boxes have not been taken up.
Seven territories were recorded as occupied in 2013 and three pairs fledged a minimum of 12 young. Records from Malcolm Henderson, Tom Dougal and Graham Anderson.