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2012 Kestrel summaries Scotland



LOTHIAN AND BORDERS             Caroline Blackie, Kestrel Co-ordinator       


As well as a change in coordinator, there has been a complete changeover of members providing kestrel records this year.   As a result our returns are compiled from some of the currently known sites and several new records provided by members this year.   So it is not possible to compare this year’s result with those from previous years.


However, it is noticeable from the returns provided that the wet summer weather has had an effect on the number of young fledged.   At several sites young chicks were found dead on the nest, some nests had failed completely, and others where there was an obvious depletion in brood numbers.


Last winter we erected numerous kestrel nest boxes in the south of the area.   So far these boxes have not been taken up by kestrels.   It may take a year or two before some of them are occupied.   On the whole, these nest boxes have been placed where the habitat appears to be ideal, and also at places where kestrels have been seen.


Results from 2012


Occupied sites by pairs – 23

Pairs with fledged young – 19

Total young fledged minimum – 44

From the 23 nesting attempts we had an average brood size of 1.91

From the 19 successful sites we had an average brood size of 2.32


There has been some concern shown in the reduction of kestrel numbers throughout the UK, but so far we are not noticing this reduction in our area.   It is important therefore to continue to monitor existing sites and also to try and establish new sites in an attempt to get a clearer picture of the population of this overlooked and under-recorded species.


My thanks go to Helen Riley, Malcolm Henderson, Tom Dougal, Graham Anderson and Chuck Cuthbert who have provided records and also to our local bird recorders who have also provided records.




ARRAN                                                          James Cassels


Of the 25 original territories recorded in the 1985 survey (Arran Naturalist Riddle 1985) 12 were occupied and six had confirmed breeding.   Kestrels were recorded in 30 of the Arran tetrads with 11 having confirmed breeding taking place, the same as in 2001.   Two broods of five young kestrels were ringed on cliff sites.




ORKNEY                                                        Stuart Williams


Fifteen breeding attempts were recorded from 28 territories checked, all but two on Mainland.   Eight were successful and seven failed.   Of the seven failures three were at the pre-laying/clutch stage, three at the brood stage and the reason for failure in the last one was unknown.   In total 23 young were recorded close to fledging and 16 confirmed fledged.   Five nest sites were on the ground, a feature almost exclusive to Orkney.   Vole numbers appeared to drop of very quickly after early May and short eared owl activity mirrored this.   Two kestrel territories which had successfully produced young for the past five years both failed on chicks, one nest had five eggs as normal, then from a brood of four one by one the chicks disappeared till none remained.



CENTRAL SCOTLAND RSG                     Dave Anderson


A project started in 2012 with 12 boxes being erected in the winter of 2011/12 from Flanders Moss back to Stirling.  This was to try to encourage kestrel use and get raptor workers into areas which were poorly covered for kestrels.


In 2012 two boxes were occupied, fledging broods of three and four, a third brood was recorded fledging from a natural site.  Anna Marie Dennis and Carina Convery cover this project.  The vole population looks low for the area but was picking up later in the year, the weather was poor with higher than average rain fall.


More boxes have been sourced by the Group and will be erected before next years breeding season, a number of kestrels were seen at the start of the winter on the high ground as vole numbers increased.


In Clackmannanshire a number of pairs were picked up breeding in quarries and old crow’s nest platforms.   James Leonard will be erecting boxes within this area to start a project extending towards Falkirk.


John Simpson also records a number of pairs near Coalport.


One other box project has been proposed for the Sheriffmuir area (where there are kestrels breeding in old shelter belts).   However this has not gone ahead as yet!


In 2013 we plan to start colour ringing broods as we have a number of stealth type cameras which we can attach to nest boxes to look at turnover within the adults (obviously this is looking long term).   All in all a pretty poor year, bad weather and low voles is not a good mix!




UIST RSG                                                      Andrew Stevenson


Although under-recorded 12 pairs were located and monitored to varying degrees, seven on South Uist, four on North Uist and one on Benbecula.   Data provided by Andrew Stevenson, Gwen Evans and Paul Wright.


In the pre-breeding season the weather was very wet and windy right up through into March. This was followed by a long very dry but colder than average spell which continued into June (even with overnight frosts in the first half of June).  July and August too unlike much of the mainland were pretty dry with typical temperatures.


The wet winter and dry spring may have had some impact on kestrels and their prey. The wet winter almost certainly affected ability to hunt and get into good condition, and the cool dry spring certainly delayed early season vegetation growth and possibly the vole breeding season. Vole numbers on the islands appear to cycle much less strongly and over longer periods than on the mainland, however 2010 and 2011 had been good vole years by our standards so 2012 was likely to have seen lower numbers anyway.


North Uist:  Four pairs were monitored, of which two were in quarries. One of these pairs occupied a raven nest which had failed early. Three pairs fledged 12 young with two broods of five and the other site was noted with large young but not confirmed to have fledged.


Benbecula: One pair was monitored and again the nest contained large young but was not confirmed to have fledged.

South Uist:  Seven pairs were noted, two of which were not followed up (east coast crag sites).  The remaining five pairs fledged 15 young (broods of 3x3, 1x4 and 1x2).   All were on small natural crags, one of which was within 10m of a failed golden eagle nest.