Tuesday, 24 June 2014

Kestrels 2014

We're all finished up with the raptor ringing season as of last Friday 20th June. It's been a generally poor year all round for birds of prey species here in West Galway.

The pairs that were successful produced good clutch sizes and fledged chicks in good numbers so it doesn't look like food was an issue. However of the 19 sites that I checked here;
  • eight were outright failures/didn't attempt breeding at the locations,
  • two contained predated eggs (Hooded Crows & large gull mostly likely predators) and
  • nine managed to successfully fledge chicks.
The most likely culprit for the poor breeding season was possibly the extremely heavy rainfall in mid May, I believe Saturday 17th May was particularly bad with one rain downpour that lasted for most of the day. It's not only Kestrels that suffered from this as Peregrines were possibly affected to a greater degree in Connacht.
John Lusby of Birdwatch Ireland and I only managed to ring four broods of chicks this year and each brood contained five chicks. We were too early for one brood and too late for another. The winter storms have had an effect on some of the nest sites as the ledges of three pairs have been washed away unfortunately.

Clutch of five.

Chick in the onion patch with its new bling.

Five chicks crammed in here.

An older chick compared to the previous birds.
John collecting chicks from nest. They often use ivy covered ledges and holes to conceal the nest.

Searching for an active nest. Ran out of time but came back a week later and the chicks were on the wing so we would have been too late anyway. These were one of the earliest pairs I've had here.

Processing a chick.

Predated eggs.

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