Cranford is for Kestrels…..or Crows?

It has been some time since I have been able to catch up on life on the doorstep.  A few brief visits to Cranford Park have only resulted in fleeting glimpses of the now fully fledged Little Owls.

Although my fellow patch-ites have had some sensational views of them both they have eluded me on each recent visit. Maybe next year?

I did manage a few hours this Sunday, encouraged by talk of Kingfishers and teased by more elusive owl action.

With neither sight nor sound of Little Owls among the oaks, I made for the woodland and lo it was noisy! Both Blue and Great Tits were extremely active, Jays were squawking and Blackcaps were still busying in and out of the foliage.

Most visible were these Long Tailed Tits however, performing the usual acrobatics and flitting from branch to branch.

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Among the various tits I also managed a very quick sight of a Goldcrest. This was a tick for me and went some way to making up for the lack of Owls.

Also seen on the wall by the orchard was this Daddy Long Legs:

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More non-bird sightings to follow in an upcoming entry. As seems the tradition for birding blogs in the summertime, we have taken an interest in butterflies and will expose our lack of knowledge about them soon!

As I made my way through the woods bird life was still a little sparse, however one Green Woodpecker, a few Parakeets and a Wren broke the silence here and there. A lone Kestrel was spotted over the woods and shortly after a Red Kite.

I made for the other side of the park, to the Green Bridge. Kingfishers had been reported here earlier in the week. Despite spending 30 or so minutes around the bridge and up and down the River Crane there were no brilliant blue darts flashing across the water.

The main open area of the park was extremely active however. 2 Kestrels were criss-crossing, hovering and the diving repeatedly. Moving into the park I was able to track their movements only to find that 2 had become 3 then 4 and possibly 5. I had another Kestrel family on my hands.

The juveniles were mostly staying low, although they were exposed by sitting in the pathways of flattened green grass, they would move in and sit on the edge of the Skylarks favourite straw-coloured longer grass.

The reason for this soon became apparent as the adults were being constantly mobbed by Crows,

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Copying the training we had seen around our flats, the adults were using every fence post and tree to observe and encourage the juveniles into practicing their hunting and flying skills.

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Despite the young birds staying on the ground for so long, the Crows were mostly interested in mobbing the adults each time they took to the air. It would seem that the open park land was disputed territory and the Crows were using their size and numbers to intimidate the Kestrels away.

Several passes by the adults would be followed by a noisy and aggressive mobbing by the larger corvids.

After watching this airborne dispute for some half an hour the Kestrels made for the trees on the far side of the open park land.

With this being the second confirmed healthy and active brood seen in the area this summer, Kestrels appear to be the doing fairly well in West London.

As summer draws to a close in the coming weeks, the chance of some passage birds showing on our local patches will hopefully increase. Lake Farm is long overdue a visit and hopefully it may be a stopping off point for the Wheatear’s seen earlier in the year and the return of the Stonechats.

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