By CleanSteve

A kestrel hunting on Minchinhampton Common

The weather forecast is very bad with many days of heavy rain projected for us all. I had to go to town this morning so on the way I decided to risk a trip up to Minchinhampton Common to try to photograph the skylarks, as I’d hoped to do yesterday. The sky was overcast and by the time I’d parked on the top of the common land the clouds were getting thicker and darker.

As soon as I left the car I could hear songs from several skylarks right above me. It took me a few moments to adjust my gaze until finally I could see one hovering very high in the sky. I do love to be amongst them listening to their delightful twittering and watching their distinctive flight. Before long the song changed giving me the indication that this bird was heading back to the ground. I followed it thought the long lens but found it hard to keep focus and knowing that any picture would be too small for good definition. 

I walked towards where it had landed, about 150 yards from me and as I did so I heard others singing. It has been a year since I spent time watching skylarks up here and gradually I remembered details of their favoured type of habitat in the grasses. As I approached close to where the first had landed i could tell it was a good place to watch them from as the long grass was slightly less thick  and there was more variety to the vegetation.

I saw more and more and got chances of photographing them in flight, although I didn’t get close to any on the ground. Drops of rain began to fall. The clouds darkened even more indicating the likelihood of heavy rain to come. As I looked around me I spotted a kestrel hovering in the distance close to where the commoners’ horses and the donkey were sheltering under a tree. I walked on looking for more skylarks towards the small trees growing in the large excavated depressions where outcropping hard limestone had been quarried in centuries past.

Just above the trees I saw this kestrel hovering intently. I filmed it for a few seconds until it plunged down behind the tree in an attack. Seconds later it flew off to the left just above the ground with something held in its claws until it disappeared into other trees in another old quarry. I’m not sure whether to blip it hovering, or its flight away. I shall look at them both and you will see what I’ve chosen.

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