Annual Report 2017

The weather overall for the 2017 season was reasonably dry but for one crucial early period at the end of April which was very cold with frost, snow and sleet making field conditions difficult. Coverage was consistent with previous years, 28 full days in the field and many single visits to territories. Forty one territories were checked, 27 occupied (66%) a slight improvement on the last few years.

The 2017 breeding statistics are as follows :-

Twenty five results were recorded, a very mixed bag with no pattern emerging other than a few pairs doing well but the majority having low output. Hatching rate was very good with only two eggs failing in the seven clutches which were known. Brood survival was good but the output varies enormously from 1-6 young (three broods of six and ten pairs producing three young or less, very poor for the species). Twenty five young were ringed, including a very late breeding attempt where the three young were ringed on 1 August, fledging on 15 August, one of the latest dates in the 45 years of monitoring.

Three pairs failed at the prelaying period, two due to peregrines nesting in the kestrel nesting territories. In terms of vole numbers, there were signs of odd small pockets but no sign of numbers overall, the last major peak being as far back as 2003/4.

For the third season six young kestrels were satellite tagged, this time using Biotrack tags, thanks to financial support from Forestry Commission Scotland and the Dumfries & Galloway RSG. Dave Anderson again provided the expertise and Jenni Burrell from RSPB Scotland downloaded the data. Currently one bird is still transmitting and is located at Langholm while a second bird is providing poor signals and it is difficult to pinpoint its location – but it is still alive!

One badly decomposed kestrel ringed on Merseyside in 2017 was found in the Scaur Glen in early September.

GORDON RIDDLE October 2017