198 pages, 150 col photos, tabs
An appealing book that rightfully raises the profile of the kestrel. It provides an extensive picture of this delightful falcon, including its lifestyle and the factors that affect its breeding success and survival. This is based upon almost 40 years' monitoring of the kestrel in south-west Scotland and further afield by the author and colleagues, giving a flavour of the integrated approach to monitoring and conservation. As well as the wealth of factual data, there are entertaining anecdotes and stories both from the author's experiences and from the wider media coverage of this raptor over the years. The reader is taken to exotic locations such as the Seychelles, Mauritius and the Cape Verde Islands to see the endemic island kestrels which have always held a great fascination for the author.
Latest figures show an alarming decline of 36% in the kestrel population in the UK, with even more dramatic falls such as 64% in Scotland. The fieldwork techniques which play such an important role are detailed in a composite breeding season. The kestrel is not portrayed in isolation and the bird's current circumstance is tied into the bigger picture of raptor conservation and the struggle against sustained persecution. The author reflects upon the political, economic and conservation issues that have dominated this field in the past few decades and through this personal and well-informed account the reader gains access to the world of the kestrel.
Must have book
by John Miles in the United Kingdom (25/05/2011)
Having Kestrels nesting by my house I was keen to read this book and see if I was missing any thing about their life. The first thing I noticed was that my Kestrels were different to the cover which was of a Mauritius Kestrel which Gordan had been over to see in the wild. The book does have a chapter on this species but I was glad to see that most of the book was about his 40 years working with the species found here in the UK especially in his Aryshire surrounds. Early designs of nest boxes was a problem for Gordan and the old fashioned 'crow's nest' was a great provider of a nest site especially as it easily drained water during bad weather. Gordan did not keep to his boundery of Aryshire and travelled widly into Dumfries and Galloway and even to see ground nesting kestrels in Orkney.
The book is a wonderful read and the many pictures at times makes it even easier to understand the pros and cons of working with such a bird. Gordan claims to have seen the species at its peak in the UK with many areas of Britain seeing a decline by up to 50% in recent times. Food, loss of habitat, predation by other raptors and still man killing the bird for his own greed all add up to this decline. Other British species of Birds of prey are covered as well as the Scottish raptor groups and their work. This all adds up to a book you must have on your book shelf.
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Gordon Riddle is currently a part-time ecologist with Natural Research Projects and is a founder member and Chairman of the South West Scotland Raptor Study Group. He was presented with the George Waterston Memorial Award in 2005 and the Donald and Jeff Watson Raptor Award in 2010. He is the author of several books, papers and articles.