Notes from St Tiggywinkles: We’re blessed to have three of the Fab Four

Kestrel
Kestrel

There are four species of falcon native to Britain.

All are imperious, special birds who seem to know they are special.

Aylesbury Vale can justifiably be proud that three of the species live right on our doorsteps.

We are all now aware of the King and Queen of all birds the peregrines lording over us from their nest site way up on ‘Big Brother’.

These are the largest of all British Falcons and are the fastest animals on the planet.

As they stoop (dive) on some unfortunate pigeon they can reach speeds of 200mph.

Our neighbourhood kestrels are also members of ‘the fab four’.

Old English names them “Windhovers” as their prowess at flying and hovering above roadside verges, ready to stoop, is truly breathtaking.

All these falcons are masters of the skies especially the handsome, tiny hobbies that can outfly even swallows and martins.

Aerial whizz kids in their own right.

Seen hunting over the Vale in summer, hobbies are true migrants making the trip all the way to Africa in the autumn.

We have just taken in one of this years, still fluffy, youngsters.

Even at this age this hobby is the most handsome of all falcons.

The other three falco species do show sexual dimorphion in that the plumage is different in the sexes and the males are about a third smaller than their mates.

Hobby pairs have identical plumage and are both the same size.

Very special little birds.

Now the forth member of the clan is now extremely rare.

I have only ever once been privileged to take in a merlin.

That was forty years ago and she did come from the Vale.

There is always a buzz when any one of the falcons arrives at Tiggys.

And my most favourite of all birds are those wonderful kestrels.