Friday, 21 February 2014

171. Lesser Kestrel (Falco naumanni)

Lesser Kestrels are summer visitors to various patches of southern Europe, mostly around the Mediterranean; they winter in sub-Saharan Africa as well as further east. They can be difficult sometimes to tell apart from Common Kestrels - the male (shown in the photo) is quite distinctive, having only small sparse spots on his breast and lacking the black spots over the wings and moustachial stripe that Common Kestrel has. He also has a blue-grey panel in his wings, between the rusty back and black wingtips. Females are harder though, the slightly paler cheek in Lesser Kestrel can be a clue. Juveniles are also tricky; first-summer birds may appear very similar to Common Kestrels as they have black spots on their coverts and tertials, and no blue-grey wing panel in males. They have slightly shorter wings and tail than Common Kestrel but still appear graceful in flight, usually only hovering for short periods compared to Common Kestrel's longer hovers. Lesser Kestrels like dry open lowland areas (semi-desert, farmland and grassland) often with cliffs, old buildings or ruins that they can nest in.

Lesser Kestrel, ©Ian N. White, via Flickr Creative Commons.
Lesser Kestrel painting.
I've made his eye and bill a bit on the large side, he's a bit cartoon-ish. Bit tardy posting this, as Chris was having a crisis with his laptop when I painted it last weekend so I couldn't scan it (the laptop screen is on the way out - we're going to have a go at replacing it, Google says it looks do-able!) - then during the week we were in Barcelona which was great :o) more to come on that!

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