Kestrel pairs in 2 main study areas in Ayrshire, South West Scotland have been monitored since 1972. The upland area comprises a mixture of rough pasture, grazed by sheep, interspersed with small shelter belts, and commercial forestry plantations. The lowland area is a mixture of coastal estate and mixed farmland.
Over the years a nest box scheme has become established in both areas, kestrels taking readily to this type of site. Open fronted boxes are erected as they have less appeal to owls, though it is now normal practice to put up 2 boxes in each nesting territory to cater for more than one species.
Each nesting territory is visited during the period February to July, up to a dozen times, in order to record the main stages of each breeding attempt. It is vital to get in early to ensure that pre laying failures are also recorded.
The 6 pieces of data required are :-
1. Territory occupation
2. Location of nest site
3. Date of first egg being laid
4. Clutch size, depletion or loss
5. Hatching data
6. Brood survival and fledging success
The main areas of interest are :-
1. Breeding performance on an annual basis
2. A ringing programme to assess dispersal
3. Intraguild competition and relationships