Male American Kestrel on a post with prey – Nikon D500, f7.1, 1/2000, ISO 400, -0.3 EV, Nikkor 500mm VR with 1.4x TC, natural light, not baited
It was foggy yesterday morning at Farmington Bay WMA but I could tell that with blue skies overhead and the bright sun chances were that the fog would burn off quickly and thankfully I was right about that.
It didn’t seem very “birdy” at Farmington Bay yesterday at first. The start of the morning was when I saw and photographed a long distance Rough-legged Hawk and a Great Blue Heron out on frosty field plus a few gulls flying over open water. There were ducks in Unit 1 too but they were back lit and I don’t’ usually try to photograph birds there in the morning.
Then I spotted a male American Kestrel with a vole on a rail next to the road who flew with his prey to a sign post when a vehicle rumbled by. That section of road at the WMA is like a washboard and no one can drive by quietly.
The tiny falcon settled in with his prey and began to consume it on the lightly frosted top of the post. I’ve found American Kestrels to be “stickier” in cold weather and it wasn’t much above 20°F when I photographed him as he consumed the vole bit by bit.
American Kestrel male holding prey in his beak – Nikon D500, f7.1, 1/1600, ISO 320, -0.3 EV, Nikkor 500mm VR with 1.4x TC, natural light, not baited
At first the kestrel ate the vole while facing almost directly at me and I kept hoping he’d turn sideways so I could see more of his body and his tail then after a bit he picked the vole up in his beak and moved it slightly on the post then faced towards me again. I wasn’t sure if he was getting ready to lift off or if he was going to settle back down and continue eating his prey.
Male American Kestrel attempting to lift off with prey – Nikon D500, f7.1, 1/1600, ISO 500, -0.3 EV, Nikkor 500mm VR with 1.4x TC, natural light, not baited
When another vehicle rumbled past the kestrel looked like he was going to lift off and and even opened his wings in an attempted lift off but once again the falcon settled back down and simply looked around. Within seconds though he grasped the vole in his talons and lifted off, I didn’t get any decent images of the lift off because he was facing west and his wings covered his head or put it in a dark shadow.
The kestrel flew towards a hill where I saw him land about halfway up it near a rock in the snow. Since he hadn’t finished consuming the vole he may have cached it near the rock where he could easily find it later.
Photographing this kestrel was a main highlight of my day.
Life is good.