Local photographer captures incredible shots of mating kestrels in Bushy Park

By Oliver Monk

7th Jul 2024 | Local News

'A Pair of Kestrels'. (Photo: Carmen Drake via Kingston Camera Club)
'A Pair of Kestrels'. (Photo: Carmen Drake via Kingston Camera Club)

Local wildlife photographer Carmen Drake has shared how she captured her stunning shots of two mating kestrels in nearby Bushy Park.

The Kingston Camera Club (KCC) member says she regularly visits the Royal Park for inspiration, photographing many different species of birds and other animals along with other wildlife enthusiasts from the club.

However, the birds of prey are among Bushy Park's lesser-spotted residents, with Ms Drake describing the birds as 'captivating'.

The photographer explained: "Having observed kestrels in previous years, I wanted to revisit their behaviour and capture more of their fascinating interactions. Knowing that the spring season is particularly interesting, with breeding and nesting activities in full swing, I was eager to witness and document these remarkable birds once again."

Ms Drake described the process behind her eye-catching photos to Nub News, saying: "Hidden in plain sight, this nest is easy to miss without some insider's knowledge, nestled discreetly a few steps away from a well-trodden path. 

"After I was shown the location of this nest, I visited the site a few more times. Each visit allowed me to observe the birds taking turns guarding their nest to prevent other species, such as jackdaws or parakeets, from occupying it.

"Equipped with a long telephoto lens, I ensured the birds were not disturbed by maintaining a respectful distance. As wildlife photographers, it is crucial to prioritise the well-being of the creatures we observe and photograph."

'Hidden in plain sight, this nest is easy to miss without some insider's knowledge, nestled discreetly a few steps away from a well-trodden path,' explained Ms Drake. (Photo: Carmen Drake via Kingston Camera Club)

Ms Drake shared the fateful visit that led to the shots explaining: "One morning, the female kestrel was alone at the nest location. Suddenly, her distinctive chirpy calls caught my attention. Moments later, the male swooped in, and the pair engaged in a brief but poignant mating ritual. The male then took off, leaving the female to guard their nest.

"The typical behaviour would be for him to go hunting. Shortly after, he would return with food for the female or allow her to leave and hunt while he took his turn guarding the nest. This cooperative behaviour shows the depth of their bond and their shared responsibilities in raising their young.

"Witnessing such an event is profoundly moving. It's a reminder of the hidden wonders of nature that thrive almost on our doorsteps. Observing these kestrels up close is a privilege, and it underscores the importance of preserving natural habitats like Bushy Park."

The photographer added: "We are indeed fortunate to have such incredible wildlife so accessible, inviting us to witness and appreciate the delicate natural world. With just a little hint, I was let into one of the park's secrets, enhancing my connection to this beautiful place.

"Through my images, I strive to inspire others to discover and appreciate the natural wonders around us.

"The Kingston Camera Club provides a wonderful platform to share my work, helping others see the beauty of wildlife that is so close to home."

KCC is encouraging keen local photographers like Ms Drake to visit the club, offering potential members a chance to meet their community with free attendance to two meetings. 

"Don't be shy, we are a friendly club and you will be assured of a warm welcome," says the club's publicity officer Sue Buller.

Additional information

Kingston Camera Club meets in term time on Monday evenings from 7:30pm for an 8pm start. Meetings run until 10pm, and take place at St Andrew's Church Hall, Church Road, Ham, TW10 5HG. 

Further information on the KCC website here.

More of Ms Drake's work is available on her website, and her Facebook and Instagram accounts.

     

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