Gazing out of our window today I spotted a thin-winged, fan-tailed shape circling above the ears of corn. Against a blue sky it was dark and speckled, difficult to pick out against a bright sun. It lured the eye to white patches of cloud that left the pupil disoriented and drunk on light. One of the pair of kestrels that live in the tree on the opposite side of the road.
It pulled up, into a midair halt, and hovered. Head stone still, wings a-blur. Giving up, it alighted on the distant telephone wires. The second adult joined it. Unusual, I thought. At least one of the adults was usually tending to the young in the nest. But for both to be sitting so far away, leaving their young ones unguarded… careless at best, negligent at worst.
Were these two kestrels suffering from parental-abandonment heatstroke? Had they given up being responsible and decided to escape for an afternoon out. Had the nest been taken over by a gang of adders or polecats? That *would* be exciting.
But the explanation was far less dramatic. I spotted it. A third, far less elegant hovering shape alighted on the wires next to them. Then it jumped off and flung itself upon the mercy of the wind, drifting backwards and down the wires before managing to flap back to them. Their baby kestrel has fledged the nest and they were out teaching it to fly and hunt. Like human adults teach a toddler to ride a bike this kestrel was in need of some stabilisers. But its efforts were adorable. I hope that they’ll all come back to the tree and practise a bit closer by. Maybe we’ll get to see the baby kestrel catching tiny baby wood mice and field voles. That’ll be fun!