Learning to be a Kestrel. Update & preview from Kestrels at Close Quarters
By August, all young Kestrels have fledged. The juveniles now have to spread their wings, learn how to hunt and to be responsible for themselves. See the progress on the upcoming TV documentary on the Common kestrel, filmed with Swarovski Optik STX scopes.
Only about two weeks ago, the last of the young Kestrels appearing in „Kestrels at Close Quarters“ left their nest. In the many nests that we've followed, all kinds of different stories and dramas happened and it was exciting to catch these scenes for the movie.
There were happy families with no troubles at all, chicks dying in or falling from their nests and adult birds perishing while their offspring needed them most – leaving brave single parents with a lot of work behind.
Obviously, the choice of the right nest site was crucial. Pairs that had chosen subprime or even risky places to breed, often got into trouble for various reasons.
Now, the families are still in the surroundings of their nests and the young falcons learn to hunt by watching their parents and trying their own luck. They are surprisingly quick in adopting the characteristic hovering flight to look out for grasshoppers, which are now abundant in the meadows. Their hunting success is pretty low at first, hence they rely on the adults to feed them for a couple of weeks after leaving the nest.
Some of the young Kestrels will not stay on their breeding grounds for long. Many birds in their first year migrate to winter in northern Africa or even further south. They will take this journey all by themselves and need to be completely independent by the time they start to migrate.
To catch all of these stories in the wild, working with Swarovski Optik STX scopes, combined with 4K-cameras was a real advantage. The long focal lenghts and the scopes' ruggedness were crucial while using them in the field in all weather conditions.
The last scenes have been shot and the next months will be spent editing the material. Watch this space for further updates and the broadcast date of the film.
About the author
Leander Khil is an ornithologist, birdwatcher and wildlife photographer from Graz, Austria. Driven by his love for birds, adventure and the outdoors he travels the world since he was a child.