Journal 218 - Kestrel Quest - part II
July 22 - Peek-a-Boo! - Look who I found hiding behind the branches of a cedar tree up the road. Meet Kenny Kestrel. When I arrived at the Kestrel tree in the late afternoon, I was informed that 3 young kestrels were flying around. Kelly was on the nest tree, and I found Kenny next door. There was a third kestrel in the nest.
After a few photos of Kenny, I had hastily packed up to escape the oncoming storm. Within a few minutes the skies opened and the roads were like rivers. I was glad to get home.
July 23 - Desspite the clouds and threatening rain, there was nothing that could keep me from my daily visit to the kestrels. As much as I wanted to get some photos, I was also interested in learning as much as possible about their behavior.
I was elated to be greeted by three little kestrels perched on a short limb of the nest tree. Kelly and Kenny had a sister. I quickly christened her "Kathy." It was a great picture opportunity.
And then there were four! When I saw a fourth kestrel fly in from across the road, I just assumed it was one of the parents, but I was confused when it landed with no fandfare on the same branch as the others. If it were one of the adults, the commotion and excitement would have been pandemonium. Looking through the camera viewfinder, I saw a fourth baby kestrel. Kelly, Kenny, and Kathy had a brother! I decided to call him "Keith." That's Keith facing you. He's being ignored by his siblings. That's sibling rivalry.
It didn't take long for chaos to set in as Mrs. Kestrel flew into sight. Kathy flew up to the next branch and was rewarded with a big fat mouse. It took a few minutes for Kelly to realize what had happened. She flew up to share the spoils with Kathy, but Kathy wasn't in the sharing mood.
Fidel was sitting on a branch above the fledglings when he spotted a cricket in the grass in front of me. Someone was going to enjoy a cricket snack.
The sun peaked out for a few minutes - another group photo. Where's Kenny?
I'm next! Keith pleaded for the next snack from Fidel.
The squeaky kestrel gets the treat!
It was Kelly's turn next. Fidel was pretty good about making sure that everyone got their turn.
July 24 - Finally a Sunny Day - The conditions were perfect and the kestrels were still around the nest tree. The feeding behavior continued just like yesterday. Kenny got a juicy grasshopper on his next turn.
After flying several missions non-stop, Fidel decided to take a break.
In perfect synchronization, Mrs. Kestrel flew in with a tasty mole. Who would be the lucky kestrel?
Eenie, meenie, minie, Keith! Keith was the lucky one and he wasn't into sharing either. He flew off into a distant tree.
The baby kestrels may have been getting the gourmet treats, but I was getting a visual treat. It was fascinating watching the interaction between the parents and babies and the sibling rivalry.
Kenny demonstrates the classic feeding position of the babies - wings flapping, teetering forward, and mouth open.
Kathy was annoyed to have missed the last treat, but it wasn't her turn.
Sisster Act - A kestrel duet by Kelly and Kathy.
Kathy's turn. Can you figure out what she has in her claws?
Damn! I dropped it.
One last shot before saying goodbye and heading for Holden Creek and Victoria. I could have stayed all day, but I had taken well over 200 pictures and there were other birds to find.
Our next stop was Holden Creek where the usual welcoming swarm of mosquitoes greeted us. After liberal doses of repellent, we headed for the fields. In the distance we could see large flocks of dowitchers. Unfortunately, they soon scattered in many directions as a Peregrine Falcon bltzed the field.
Eventually, a few birds returned. Two Lesser Yellowlegs were among the first to return.
I had seen three Lesser Yellowlegs about two weeks ago at Admiral's Lagoon, but this was my first close-up opportunity of the year. There were probably 200 Long-billed Dowitchers present in various groups, but I couldn't pick out a Short-billed. It was frustrating to hear the unmistakeable "tu-tu-tu" on one occasion and not be able to visually locate the bird. There were also large numbers of Westerns and Least. As the tide was coming in, we couldn't stay any longer so it was off to Victoria.
Of course, it was high tide in Victoria which isn't the best for shorebirds. We did the obligatory walk to Ogden Point which was as busy as Douglas Street and saw the usual Pigeon Guillemots. We wanted to go over to the cruise ship dock but decided that we wouldn't be able to get permission for close-up looks at the birds. Does anyone know if they would give permission? Anyway, we did have some consolation birds as we walked towards shore. A pair of Parasitic Jaegers flew low overhead towards Clover Point.
Clover Point was quiet, but it was fun to see my first Heerman's Gulls of the year.
On our way home I decided to visit Esquimalt Lagoon. I thought it was a mistake as soon as I saw the rows of cars. However, in true diehard fashion, we checked out the lagoon then the ocean side. On a hunch I got out of the car to have a closer look along the shoreline. Bingo! A Rhinoceros Auklet with a mouth full of sandlance was swimming close to shore.
We were lucky to get a few pictures before a couple of young kids chased it into deep water.
July 25 - The kestrels were spread all over when I arrived in the late afternoon. One was on the nest tree, two were in the tall firs across the street, and the fourth was nowhere to be seen. I knew this would happen. It wouldn't be long before they disperse completely. I really wasn't after photos, I just wanted to see them again. After a brief look, it was time to go home unless we found the consolation bird - and I did!
I couldn't believe it when I spotted a merlin on the eye-level snag at Rascal Pond. It was busy consuming a dragonfly.
It seemed oblivious to my presence as I edged the car as close as possible. Click! Portrait of a Merlin.
After cleaning its bill it flew off and hawked another dragonfly.
The process was repeated several times. I had a front row seat to another magical spectacle of nature.
Talk about an amazing photo opportunity. The sun was perfect - well the background could have been a little brighter, but I wasn't complaing.
Over 200 clicks in less than a half hour without moving. That's easy photography. Thanks, Mr. Merlin.
July 25 - I visited the kestrels in the late afternoon. There was only one female at the nest tree. The others were in the tall firs across the road. None of the parents came to the nest tree in the 15 minutes I was there.
July 26 - I arrived at 9:00 AM. Fidel and three baby kestrels were at the nest tree. A few minutes later Fidel flew off to hunt. As he was returning, one of the babies flew off and intercepted him about 70 meters from the nest tree. The baby hovered and Fidel fed him it in mid-air. Shortly after, the other babies flew across the road into the tall firs.
As the babies gain strength and flying ability, they will range farther and farther away from the nest tree. I don't think it will be long before they abandon it altogether.
SIDNEY - VICTORIAN BIRD HOUSE, TANNER'S BOOKSTORE COMOX - BLUE HERON BOOKS BOWSER - LIGHTHOUSE GIFTS DEEP BAY - SHIP & SHORE VICTORIA - BOLEN BOOKS, MUNRO'S, Crown Publications, Ivy's UCLUELET - WORDS END BOOKSELLERS Comments, questions, or book orders? email firstname.lastname@example.org
SAANICH - WILD BIRDS UNLIMITED
CAMPBELL RIVER - SAVE-ON FOODS
DUNCAN - VOLUME 1 BOOKSTORE
CHEMAINUS - Willow's Wild Bird Store
LADYSMITH - SALAMANDER BOOKS
NANOOSE - SCHOONER COVE MARINA
LAKE COWICHAN - GALLOPING MOON GALLERY
TOFINO - BOTANICAL GARDENS
Quadra Island - EXPLORE & BOOK BONANZA
SIDNEY - VICTORIAN BIRD HOUSE, TANNER'S BOOKSTORE
COMOX - BLUE HERON BOOKS
BOWSER - LIGHTHOUSE GIFTS
DEEP BAY - SHIP & SHORE
VICTORIA - BOLEN BOOKS, MUNRO'S, Crown Publications, Ivy's
UCLUELET - WORDS END BOOKSELLERS
Comments, questions, or book orders? email email@example.com