The old oak tree towered above the meadow, its trunk and branches gnarled and aged, its green leaves whispering in the breeze. The surrounding meadow has been recently mown and was closely cropped, from there a hare dashed away heading for the long waving grass of the opposite field. The sky above was bright blue and filled with fluffy clouds dancing on the breeze, no hint of the persistent rain to come.
We had returned to the tree where last year we had been surprised to find a kestrel nesting. Then she had raised her brood in a crumbling, dilapidated box. The following winter the owners had replaced the crumbly box with a brand new one and had then seen the female flying around the tree, but the question was whether she had taken up the new offering.
So once again, we were climbing a ladder up the tree to look in the new box. The noise from above suggested the female had happily moved in to the new quarters and had once again set about raising a brood of young.
This was confirmed when down in bags came not two, but five well-developed chicks. Unlike last year, when we ringed two grey fluff balls, these five had a lot of adult feathers grown through with just tufts of grey giving them a very comical look. Despite this, they were fine to handle, if a little more feisty than last years counterparts. It was not long before they too had a unique ring and were returned to the new box in the old oak.