Thursday 26 July 2012

Lesser Kestrels on the island of Rab

In the past two days I was on a Lesser Kestrel mission on the island of Rab, Croatia. There's a breeding colony nearby so numerous "naumann's falcons" use the rocky hills of the island as a feeding site. The colony numbers between 25 and 30 birds.
There were about 25 LESSER KESTRELS (both sexes) showing well on a daily basis. Tuesday was still a bit windy so the birds were just seen in active hunting flight. On Wednesday instead the weather was very calm and that allowed several Lesser Kestrels to settle down and perch on some low trees (see pics above). They were usually seen taking large insects from their favourite perches. I can say that all the main features were appreciated very well in the field (of course the most difficult to see were the white nails!). Several males had the distinctive blue-grey "bands" on the wings, but there were also some males without it.
Females were of course more tricky:

Their preferred feeding area:

Other interesting observations on the island included: 2 Short-toed Eagles (seen on both days in the same area), at least 10 Eastern Black-eared Wheatears (both varieties), 1 Icterine Warbler (first of the autumn), 2 Subalpine Warblers.
Black-eared Wheatear:

Short-toed Eagle perched on a pylon:

Small areas of brackish marsh around the island held also 1 Whimbrel, 1 Curlew, 2 Wood Sandpipers & +6 Common Sandpipers, 2 Common Redshanks and a juvenile Little Ringed Plover. Common birds included: Alpine Swift, Woodlark, 1 Honey Buzzard, Cirl Bunting, Bee-eater, Red-backed Shrike, 1 Melodious Warbler, 1 Great Reed Warbler, Golden Oriole, 1 Nightingale, Serin, Turtle Dove, Sparrowhawk and Buzzard.
On the ferry back home 2 Common Bottlenose Dolphins and a probable Pochard (quite odd) were seen on the sea between the islands or Rab and Krk.
A big thanks goes to my friend Jurij who arranged the whole twitch and with whom I shared the excellent observations.