Cunningdale is one of my favourite dales. Only a brief walk away or if you are feeling lazy a short car journey, it is host to a wide variety of wild flowers and on a warm sunny Sunday morning, flutters, hums and zings with bees and butterflies.
There are also Redstarts that regularly nest there as well as Goldfinches and of course Garden Warblers. No Chiff Chaffs this year though.
Buzzards regularly soar overhead, and it is not uncommon to see one of the local peregrine’s checking out the pigeons that use the dale or a sparrowhawk chasing down one of the song birds.
There have been a pair of kestrels nesting there and bringing up their young for as long as I can remember. The kestrels live uneasily with the large number of Jackdaws that also live in the Dale.
Mobbing birds of prey is a common sight amongst the corvids. This Sunday soon after Lilly and I had arrived in the Dale a kestrel appeared and settled on one of the telephone lines. Soon after the jackdaws and a couple of crows appeared on the scene.
The mobbing began.
The kestrel though smaller is a better and more agile flyer. It out thought and out flew its rivals, like a Spitfire out-turning a Messerschmitt 109, so that at one point the chaser became the chased, as the last couple of pictures in the sequence above show.
Why do they mob Kestrels?
There is an excellent article on the RSPB website on mobbing here.
The kestrel was unconcerned and decided to sit it out in a tree. The Jackdaws lost interest. The dale settled down to get on with the business of getting on.
Lilly dropped her Frisbee at my feet, with a “That’s quite enough bird watching for the walk. Here is my Frisbee, throw it for me” look on her face.