Annual Report 2013

The 2013 season could not have had a worse start with the coldest March in half a century, then wet and windy for most of April continuing into the first half of May. There was still snow cover present well into the season. Predictably this had an effect upon territory occupation which was very low at 45%. Of the 22 pairs which did establish on site only 13 went on to breed. Unpresidented was the low number of kestrels recorded, only 22 individual sightings on 27 field days by 18 June.

Those birds which did breed did quite well. Only six clutches and a part clutch were recorded and if the clutch of three is ignored (see later) the average size was a commendable 4.8. Twelve pairs reared 42 young, 3.5 per pair with a production rate of 1.9 per pair when all the established pairs were taken into consideration, including pre-laying failures. July was an excellent month weather wise, sunny and warm but unfortunately there were few kestrel families to take advantage of this.

The 2013 breeding statistics are as follows :-

Apart from the eight pairs which held territory but failed pre-laying there was only one pair which did not produce young. After laying three eggs, the pair was dislodged by a pair of barn owls which incubated the part clutch but did not hatch any. This is one of several records of this behaviour over the past 40 years. Only 25 young were ringed and one recovery received – a bird ringed on 12 June 2012 on a coastal site having been killed in a turbine collision on 1 January 2013, a distance travelled of 98 kilometres.

In a joint scheme twenty four next boxes, supplied by the Forestry Commission, were erected in the Carrick Forest in the Spring, mirroring the scheme I set up in the 1970s in the early days of afforestation. The new boxes were sited on the edge of mature blocks adjacent to potential feeding areas in the second rotation. None were occupied in the first season.

GORDON RIDDLE September 2013