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Kestrels battle a Hobby: Incredible footage from Stow Maries Aerodrome

Updated: Oct 31, 2021

I have been working with Denis Stretton, at Stow Maries Aerodrome in Essex on a number of camera projects. He has been using the Birdsy cameras and has been capturing some incredible clips. Kestrels nest in a box there and we were keen to see if Denis was able to get the camera up to monitor and film them this year. By some pretty creative means, Denis managed to mount the Birdsy camera on a tall pole, supported by tethers to stop the pole swaying. He has also got the camera running successfully using solar panels and a PAYG router set-up.

It is a bit dark inside the box, but it was a good enough set-up for us to use this year, whilst we decided how to improve it for next year.

The camera is live streaming on my website and last week 5 chicks hatched.

Today we captured some pretty incredible footage. The camera only records when it can 'see' wildlife, so there were several clips of this encounter. The limitations of this camera and set-up mean the footage is not as clear as I we would have liked, but certainly clear enough to record a pretty spectacular event that has probably not been filmed before.

The bird you can see in this video is a Hobby (Falco subbuteo). It is a summer migrant here in the UK. A similar size to the kestrel, this agile falcon is known for its ability to hunt aerial insects, such as dragonflies. They are also known to sometimes take prey from other falcons, such as kestrels. On looking carefully at the footage, this is actually what this hobby was doing. It follows the male, who has caught a vole, into the nest box and grabs the vole. Of course, there are 5 kestrel chicks in the box and the female arrives and instantly attacks.

This first video is pretty amazing......

Over the next 20 minutes or so, an amazing battle ensued between these pretty equally matched individuals. The female kestrel had her newly hatched brood to protect and she was not going to release this hobby. The battle was pretty fierce and could have ended in the female being injured or even killed. This would have meant her chicks would be unlikely to survive with just the male to feed them.

The video clips speak for themselves really.

WOW! Just goes to show what battles happen day in, day out, without us even knowing.

I have uploaded all the individual clips and there is a combined clip at the end of this post showing the whole sequence, with them all combined.

The female kestrel and all five chicks have survived,

I will add the remaining clips as they are processed and uploaded. The kestrel chicks benefitted from this unfortunate hobby's demise as it was fed to them. I will add these clips on a later blog.

A massive thank you to Denis. This whole camera project has been a joint effort, but Denis has done all the hard work on the ground as I have been unable to visit due to Covid restrictions. That will change very soon as I have a trip planned in a few week's time. We have a lot of exciting camera plans for next year at this incredible site.


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