Saturday, 24 June 2017

Kestrels part 2

The first post on the local kestrels covered 3 day; this post covers the next 2 days.

Day 4 was exactly as day 3 in that 2 of the young had left the nest hole and were sitting on the cliff top and 2 were still in the hole.
Day 5 (today) there had been a small change in that a third youngster had left the nest hole, I assume this morning, and was scrambling/flapping it's way up the cliff face. Progress was slow but by the time I left it was only around 6 feet from the cliff top.

Flapping it's way up the cliff fase.

The youngster in the hole seems totally lacking in any desire to leave the nest and just sat there for the hour I was there. It didn't even have any practice flaps.

Mr lazy

One youngster was on the cliff top and the adult male brought it a meal whilst I was there.

The final youngster was quite low on the cliff - where the grassed slope meets the chalk - and sat there quietly until the adult male came back when it begged for food but was ignored.

So still good news.

Thursday, 22 June 2017


Kestrels have bred at Kingsdown for a number of years with varying levels of success. With everywhere being pretty quiet I spent around an hour or so on the last 3 mornings watching and photographing the latest kestrel family.

As I was parking the car I could hear a kestrel calling and on arriving, below the nest hole, there was a youngster perched atop an ivy like creeper growing up the cliff face.

First juvenile to leave the nest

In the nest hole 3 more juveniles were visible (at least I think they were all juveniles).

Over the next hour or so the fledgling flapped around the cliff face changing positions every few minutes in a very haphazard manner.

The adult male kept watch most of the time chasing away any crow or jackdaw that venture near. The female returned with a vole and a little later the male captured a lizard.

Female plus vole

Add caption

When I left the juvenile had found a reasonable secure perch on the rock face.

Next morning the juvenile was high up near the cliff top so had clearly improved it's flying ability and the other youngsters were flapping around in the nest hole.  A few minutes after my arrival one of the youngsters fell from the nest hole whilst flapping about and tumbled down the cliff face into a small bush growing out of the cliff about 6-8 feet below the hole.

juvenile about to leave the nest

A soft landing

Nothing much changed during the rest of my stay with the fallen youngster happy to sit in it's bush and yesterday's fledgling continued to call from the cliff top.

Day 3. I was a little concerned when I first arrived as it was very quiet but soon after arriving I located the 2 fledged youngsters on a cliff top bush. Their attempts at flying did not inspire confidence but they managed to get themselves back to their perch with a bit of trial and error and at no time looked like falling down the cliff face.

The male was on guard most of the time though did capture a vole which it gave to one of the youngsters.

male with vole and juvenile changing positions

The youngster still needs to master landing

The hole still contained 3 birds so I started wondering about their being 5 youngsters but one of them was the female so the family remains 4 youngsters plus the two adults.

Female plus 2 youngsters

Male on patrol

I had today off but will have a look at how they are progressing tomorrow.

Friday, 31 March 2017

Bird watching in the Yucatan (22nd Feb-9th March 2017) Akumal

The last stop during our trip was near Akumal, some 20 miles north of Tulum. We had 6 days here staying in a rather nice apartment overlooking the sea (Las Villas).

Whilst here we did have trips out to Muyil so as to see some more Mayan ruins but to also gain access to a little bit of the Sian Ka'an biosphere.
We also had a snorkeling trip to Cenote Yal Ku - a cenote that's actually part of a sea inlet and has a wide range of sea fish to see whilst flippering around.

My birding here was very restricted to the trees bordering the access road to the apartments/houses along that stretch of the beach. At the southern end of this road development failed to materialse and the road had subsided a little meaning for about 20 yards it's permanently flooded to an inch or two in depth (and quite muddy) and this extended "puddle" proved to be a magnet for a number of species. The beach, the garden and our balcony provided the rest of my patch.

During our drive from Chichen Itza we'd stopped for some essential provisions (mainly beer and wine) and we were settling down on the balcony to have a relaxing moment before unpacking when a hooded oriole appeared in the palm tree at the corner of our balcony. This bird (and it's mate) was in that tree for most of our stay and was a constant source of frustration because it was nearly always partially obscured. It was also so close (5-6 yards) getting the whole bird in frame was a problem.

Hooded oriole (male)

From our trip to Muyil.

Mayan ruins

Birding wise the area immediately inside the gates was quite birdy and we saw a a number of the common species seen/posted already including american redstart, magnolia warbler, kiskadee and social flycatcher . New species were in the form of a yucatan flycatcher (or possibly dusky capped- they are very similar), summer tanager, and black-cowled oriole.
We did do the jungle walk down to the lagoon but the path was so narrow very little was seen. At the lagoon you could look across the water which was all very pretty but not a bird was in sight.

Yucatan flycatcher

Summer tanager (male)

Black-cowled oriole (male)

Black-cowled oriole (female)

American redstart
For lunch we stopped at a beach-side restaurant in Tulum

After a few minutes at the restaurant I had to scurry back to the car for my camera as a roseate spoonbill flew over. Fortunately more were to follow.

Now a selection of shots taken along the access road to our apartment (Las Villas) with most being obtained by or actually in the puddle

Green heron

Yucatan Jay

Northern Waterthrush

Least Sandpiper. (I was actually in the puddle when I took this.)

Yucatan virio
Caribbean elania

Magnolia Warbler

Black-headed trogon

Violaceous Trogon

Yellow-throated Euphonia

Grey Collared becard

From the beach:

Spotted sandpiper

Grey plover


From the Garden/balcony:

Yellow-crowned night heron

Great Kiskadee

Yellow-throated warbler

Tropical mockingbird

And that's about it.
An excellent 2 weeks, staying in some lovely places with the staff and service  - particularly at Hacienda Chichen Itza - being really friendly. I was lucky with our lodgings in that at both Puerto Morelos and Akumal we were on very quiet roads where you could bird pretty much undisturbed (dead end roads so little through traffic). In our travels we did go past several places I had considered staying and these were also on small bush/tree lined roads but these roads were through roads and the traffic constant.

My list for the two weeks crept up to 108 species and I managed shots of about 90% of those though not all were of sufficient quality to post. As a general statement it would be correct to say that bird density in the Yucatan was quite low and birding was slow but in just about every session I managed to find one or two new species such that even on the last day at Akumal I managed streaked flycatcher and grey-collared becard just 30 yards from out lodgings.
Other than a 2.5 hr session with a guide at Chichen Itza all the birds shown were self found but there's no doubt I would have benefited from a guide to get the species count up - for example I only had a single sighting of a toucan and even that one was only a fly-by. The guides I found on the internet however were pretty pricey so I didn't bother.
Only disappointment - I did not get to Rio Lagatos. If I ever go back to the Yucatan I will try again to get there but allow more time for Diego Munez to reply.