Kestrel: the windhover
Kestrel in Dorset: what your tweets tell us ...
There was a time, not so long ago, that the kestrel was probably our most common bird of prey. They could often be seen hovering over roadside verges and roundabouts, especially along the newly built motorways, in the 1960s and 1970s. Now they seem much more scarce and I rarely see one from the car like I used to. Whether this is due to a general decline in kestral numbers or a decline in small mammals found along roadsides I do not know; maybe this is another indication of the harm over tidiness along our roadsides can be or possibly the cumulative effects of pollution from car emissions?
In Dorset the kestrel is a resident species and reports are fairly evenly distributed throughout the year with, perhaps, a tendency for more records in the autumn so that may be evidence of some inward migration over the colder months or may be the dispersal of young birds raised in the county.
Although widely distributed in Dorset the distribution map would seem to show a preference for coastal cliffs and heathland with occasional reports from the less observed chalk downs in the north of the county. Kestrels are also reported from along the cliffs in Bournemouth east to Hengistbury as well as from sites around Weymouth so they still seem to manage to survive in urban settings where they are known to nest on tall buildings.
Surely, the most reliable places to add kestrel to your Dorset list would be the cliffs at Durlston and along the Purbeck coast or the west cliff of Portland Bill.