Kestrel Cam Live

The Kestrel Cam has ended as all six chicks successfully fledged. Here are some recorded highlights.

We have had kestrels nesting in the kestrel box at Woods Mill for many years. Our nest box has helped our local kestrels consistently produce 3 or 4 chicks each year. We've always wanted to put a camera in the box to see what's actually going on in there and - thanks to the funding from ScottishPower Foundation - we can now proudly present Kestrel Cam 2018 as part of our Woods Mill 50th Anniversary celebrations. The nest box camera (and a lot of help with installation) was supplied by the great team at HandyKam. Our main priority is to help the kestrels successfully produce a family each year - but this small, unobstructive camera gives us the privilege of watching these amazing birds produce and raise their family.

You can add your comments and questions below, please note that all posts are moderated so your post may not appear straight away.

This is part of Sussex Wildlife Trust’s celebration of 50 years at Woods Mill. Thanks to generous support from ScottishPower Foundation.

Leave a comment

Comments

  • Norma Riley:

    18 Jul 2018

    I’m curious. One of the kestrels (presumably mum) is still roosting in the ledge of the nesting box during the hours of darkness. Does this mean one or more of the chicks is still spending the night in the box, or does she just like being there.

  • Norma:

    05 Jul 2018

    I’m trying to wean myself off the Kestrel Cam gradually so just have a look last thing at night. And sure enough there is Mum still guarding the nesting box during the hours of darkness. I guess that means that one or more of the chicks is still spending the night there.

  • Michael Blencowe:

    28 Jun 2018

    James has written a piece about the Kestrels here:

    https://sussexwildlifetrust.org.uk/news/woods-mill-kestrels-have-fledged

    …where there’s also a video of the 6 chicks leaving the nest. These comments (from our Sussex Wildlife Trust Nature Table Facebook page) really shoe the effect these birds have had on many people’s lives.

    “This has been an amazing thing to watch. I’m currently ill and pretty much housebound so haven’t been able to visit Woods Mill and I’m missing it. Kestrel cam has been on here during all my waking hours since it started and has cheered me up no end. So a huge thanks to Sussex Wildlife Trust for organising it and another huge thanks to Scottish Power Foundation for funding it.”

    “Thank you James, Michael, Scottishpower and everyone involved in the setting up, running and sharing of the Kestrel cam. It has been an amazing experience. I have loved everyone’s photos, videos and comments, thank you. I am going to miss those guys x”

    I feel like I may need to start some sort of support group!

  • Norma:

    28 Jun 2018

    I feel bereft! Unfortunately, although I seemed to spend hours looking at the webcam, I didn’t see any of them actually leaving. There would just be one less the next time I looked! But so long as they fledged safely that is the main thing. Thank you for all the pleasure it has given us.

  • Geevee:

    28 Jun 2018

    Just tuned in to find an empty box with a few flies buzzing around :( I’m missing the chicks already! Is this how empty nest syndrome feels??

  • Michael Blencowe:

    28 Jun 2018

    That’s the last chick out of the nest! (at 08:05 today) – although some are currently lounging around on the top (you can see their tails hanging down). The chicks and the female will still be using the nest box as a base for a while longer as well as spending time in a nearby oak. That’s all six out of the nest in approx. 36 days since hatching. I’m still amazed they all made it!

  • Josephine Landolt:

    27 Jun 2018

    I shared the link with my daughter in USA when they were born – we have had so much joy watching them grow – thank you for sharing this with us.

  • Ishbel Leddy:

    27 Jun 2018

    Just watching 2 chicks sitting contemplating the world at 12:57 when I heard the sandwich delivery van in distance!
    Then another bird land on roof to much excitement!

  • @Gerry Thompson – yes, they are about fledge. At least two have left already, but they do come back to the nest too, so it is hard to keep count. It is likely the nest box will be empty in the next week.

  • Susan Buchanan:

    25 Jun 2018

    Thank you, Michael, for your explanation. I was certainly becoming confused about the activities, but it makes sense now that we know they come and go like that

  • Gerry Thompson:

    25 Jun 2018

    Are they about to fledge?

  • Michael Blencowe:

    24 Jun 2018

    What did I miss?! Seems like it’s been a busy day in / out of the nest. With the chicks so big it’s getting hard to tell them apart from the parent birds who are still bringing food and calling from outside the box encouraging them to jump. To make it even more confusing the chicks that fly will also return to the nest over the next few days – or sunbathe on top of it. Next year I’ll climb up and write numbers on their backs in Tippex. The first flight I could find was at 07:28 this morning (thank you to my Mum and Nicola for their comments). There was almost a second flight in the afternoon when one fell out in the afternoon but scrambled back in and then tonight the adults have been on top of the box encouraging them to leave. Thanks to everyone who has left comments and information.

  • Susan Buchanan:

    24 Jun 2018

    There are actually still five! One flew out about 45 minutes ago.

  • Mike H:

    24 Jun 2018

    To confirm numbers, after the chick flew back in at 1857, I was able to count all six in one view. It must be a very deep box, as often there were two out of sight below the camera.

  • Tracy:

    24 Jun 2018

    Was watching about 4.15 and there were still 5 in the box. Looks like an hour later 2 more have gone as have only seen three in the box. Typical was watching for a good half hour or so earlier!!! Missed it!

  • Karen Meeres:

    24 Jun 2018

    I think the second chick flew at 16.48 on Sunday. I looked away from the screen but heard a load of noise, looked back and now there only seem to be 4.

  • Maureen Robins:

    24 Jun 2018

    Wonderful opportunity to see the Kestrels – shall miss them

  • Nicola Baggley:

    24 Jun 2018

    First flight! 7:28am Sunday. There were 6 of them still (you can see all six at 7:23). Then one bustled forward and after a while launched off. I assume it was a baby not a parent – they all seem so big now.

  • Chris Townsend:

    23 Jun 2018

    All 6 chicks looking healthy and strong, what a great little family. I have so enjoyed watching this nest, to have 6 chicks must be some kind of record! Great job mum & dad.

  • Michael Blencowe:

    23 Jun 2018

    Ready to jump? Looks like today could be the day folks! Lots of sitting on the ledge and flapping going on! Certainly a good day for your first flight. I’m working all weekend so I can’t watch the kestrels – if anyone sees them jump can you put the time in the comments section (above) and I can find the footage on the camera’s hard drive. Thanks.

  • Sandra Ward:

    20 Jun 2018

    I’ve been away, where are all the chicks! I can see one in the nest.

  • Helena Carter:

    19 Jun 2018

    Next year, viewers might watch the many live webcams around the country which show the Peregrines from start to finish. Most have now fledged, but one or two still on the verge, and sometimes one will return to the nest box for a while.

  • Norma:

    16 Jun 2018

    Thanks for letting us know Michael – it is so difficult to count how many chicks are still there. And you can see the fluff disappearing and the feathers forming. I’m not sure how I’ll fill my days once they have left the nest!

  • Michael Blencowe:

    16 Jun 2018

    Still 6 kestrels in the box and – despite all my doom and gloom – they all seem reasonably strong. Food is being delivered by both parents and is being snatched by the chick in the front. I was worried that some weaker chicks would lose out at this stage – perhaps they’ve organised some sort of rota system (it’s probably pinned up on the back wall). Flight feathers are all developing now and they’re regularly stretching and flapping – much to the annoyance of the other siblings. Chicks take about 35 days to leave the nest after they have hatched. So we only have about 10 more days left before we’re staring at an empty nestbox.

  • marc leslie debonnaire:

    15 Jun 2018

    Amazing through the “key hole“insight of the trials nd tribulations,of life.

  • Michael Blencowe:

    13 Jun 2018

    I’ve been away without internet – so I’m pleased to come back and read that there are still 6 chicks in the box. I can’t believe how much they have grown! The female just bought some food in - what a racket! I’m still going to warn you that it is unlikely that all 6 chicks are going to leave – I’m just preparing you all because it’s going to get a bit of a free for all in there soon. This morning she threw in a vole and one *tried* to feed himself but she had to resort to shredding and feeding it to them in the end. In reply to your question...it is the female who sits with them all night. She would have stopped brooding them after about 10 days from hatching. She has been sleeping in that box for a few months now – from way before the eggs were laid.

  • Norma:

    13 Jun 2018

    Thank you.

  • @Norma Riley: I definitely counted 6 earlier this afternoon, it is hard to get all 6 in front of the camera now they are bigger & are moving alot

  • Norma Riley:

    12 Jun 2018

    Just watched the babies being fed. Can someone please put me out of my misery – are there still 6? They are just a bundle of fluff so it is very difficult to count. I definitely saw 5, with possibly another one.

  • CK Turner:

    10 Jun 2018

    I think it might be the male who stands sentinel at night whilst the mother still broods the chicks, you can see the difference in their markings and the one sitting looking out a night does look like a male! Michael Blencowe will definitely know for certain! I thought it was the mother at first until I noticed her come in one night then the father appeared a little later :)

  • Cherry:

    10 Jun 2018

    I thought it was just me Norma! I too take a peek in the middle of the night to see how they are getting on!

    I would love to see more cameras around more nesting sites, much better than the reality rubbish tv!

  • Ishbel Leddy:

    10 Jun 2018

    Just watched adult feed chicks with a large rat? Sunday at 09:40ish. One chick to the left didn’t seem to be getting much food and wasn’t quite so demanding as others…

  • Norma:

    09 Jun 2018

    What a good Mother she is. Not only is she feeding 6 of them, she is there as soon as it starts getting dark sitting on the ledge of the nesting box guarding them until it gets light again. (I woke up in the middle of the night and had a look just to check!)

  • Norma:

    09 Jun 2018

    That’s brilliant. I look several times a day and was convinced there were only 3 left. Then today I counted 5. So delighted to know there are still 6.

  • Michael Blencowe:

    08 Jun 2018

    Yes. As Cherry reported below there are six healthy chicks still in the nest. Lots of fun today as a two of the chicks recreated the famous spaghetti scene from Disney’s ‘Lady and the Tramp’. Although the fact that they were doing it with rat entrails sort of took away some of the charm. I’m still amazed we have six chicks at this stage! Now they have started swallowing whole prey and feeding themselves it will start to get a bit crazy in there when the parents start simply dropping food it the box.

  • Cherry:

    08 Jun 2018

    Do my eyes deceive me or did i see 6 healthy chicks still feeding from mum!? (Little bit more fairly this time :) )

  • CK Turner:

    08 Jun 2018

    12:51 chick intently watching a fly!

  • Chris Townsend:

    08 Jun 2018

    I check this nest every day, several times a day, I have never managed to count 6 chicks, can you please tell me if there are still 6 chicks? Loving this nestbox coverage, mum and dad are working hard to feed their large family.

  • Michael Blencowe:

    07 Jun 2018

    Thanks for the tip-off CK. I’ve put the video on the Sussex Wildlife Trust Nature Table Facebook page and we’ll try and get it up here soon. As you say – they are learning to handle prey now and feed themselves. I noticed the female has started giving whole voles to some of the bigger chicks and they are gulping them down. The male kestrel should soon start delivering prey directly to the box and wont be relying on the female to carry it in and feed the chicks. This should free up the female for more hunting. It’s going to be non-stop for those pair over the next few weeks.

  • CK Turner:

    07 Jun 2018

    Approx 11:55 dad dropped off a mouse made a high shrill then few off, the chicks just looked at it in disdain, then 2 of the chicks grabbed a back leg each and tried to pull it in half between them, not much luck unfortunately but quite comical to watch and they are learning quickly!

  • Michael Blencowe:

    07 Jun 2018

    Lovely to hear both Nightingale and Turtle Dove singing on the Kestrel Camera this morning. A nice soundtrack while I’m eating my Frosties.
    CK Turner: I haven’t noticed the husky Kestrel – I’ll listen out for it today. Probably just got a bit of rat stuck in its throat.

  • CK Turner:

    06 Jun 2018

    Thank you for your latest update Michael, that is reassuring to know! I have noticed one of the chicks seems to have a husky croaky call, whereas all the others sound much higher in their pitch – is this anything to worry about? kind regards CK

  • Michael Blencowe:

    06 Jun 2018

    The male bird is still doing most of the hunting. He is not bringing prey into the nest because he has no idea how to tear it up and feed it to the chicks! – typical behaviour for Kestrels. I’ve seen him bring food to the nest a few times but he looks a bit confused once he gets there and takes the food away again. The female is also hunting but she is also spending time in the oaks behind the nestbox. When the male brings food he calls (you can hear him on the camera) and she takes the food into the box to serve to the chicks. That’s why people are only seeing the female flying in and out of the box at the moment. In about a week the chicks will start to feed themselves and then the male will just bring the prey to the box and drop them off. The female will start to hunt a lot more then.

  • Nicole Carter:

    06 Jun 2018

    We popped to Woods Mill this afternoon and were rewarded with a great view of both parents flying in front of the best so they are still around. One then stayed up in the nearby trees while the other flew off, I would assume, to hunt. The swans and their Cygnets are doing fantastically too and managed to trap us on the path leading to the dipping area when the female decided she wanted to sunbathe that side. She moved off again eventually though.

  • CK Turner:

    06 Jun 2018

    14:46 Still 6 chicks! Wow! Popped up to Woods Mill, lots of camera work going on, spoke with an observer who commented they have only seen one parent going in and out, either way the parent/s are doing a blooming good job!

  • James Duncan:

    06 Jun 2018

    As of 14:41 there are still 6 sizeable looking chicks in the nest! That’s an awful lot of hungry mouths to feed, though the flurry of rats brought in seems to be keeping them all catered for at present.

  • Nigel Coombs:

    06 Jun 2018

    Just brilliant to watch. We have had a kestrel box at the end of our garden for years and no joy until 3 years ago and since then we have had a pair of kestrels rear chicks and it has always been 3 chicks each year. But see see what is going on in your box and see the chicks getting so well fed is really good. As we found out first year though, it is when the young birds fledge and they become independent that is the critical time.

  • Michael Blencowe:

    05 Jun 2018

    The male and female are now hunting but the male is still (mostly) passing the food to the female to bring back to the nest and feed the young. It has been interesting to watch how bewildered he is when it comes to feeding the chicks. She brings in the food , rips it up and feeds it to the young . He has appeared a few times with a vole in his beak, waved it at the chicks and, when they just stared back, he’s flown off again to give it to his partner.

  • James Duncan:

    05 Jun 2018

    16:35 – Two Brown Rats brought into the nest within 10 minutes! What a fantastically substantial food-source for the growing Kestrel chicks.

  • CK Turner:

    04 Jun 2018

    Parent has been in and out consistently all day, could only see 4 chicks feeding though – last feed was around 9pm, but I’ve only seen one parent coming in and out of the nest. Are both parents around still?

  • CK Turner:

    04 Jun 2018

    Noticed one of the parents came in around 10am ish but she left pretty quick and I missed her entrance as had another page up! They all (hopefully) had a good feed at 12:59 when parent came in with a mouse and was in the box feeding the chicks for a good 7 mins and seemed to spread evenly between chicks mainly, apart from one on the right who seemed to get quite a lot of the meal!

  • Michael Blencowe:

    03 Jun 2018

    14:45 I spoke too soon! There’s still 6 chicks in there! At 14:11 she bought a mouse in and one chick snatched it and swallowed it down whole. Getting food to everyone is becoming very difficult.

  • Michael Blencowe:

    03 Jun 2018

    10:00 Looks like there’s just 5 chicks being fed now – so we have lost one. Over the past years this nestbox has produced 3 or 4 young birds - so be prepared to see another hungry mouth vanish. Watching the female feeding her young you really appreciate how hard it is for her to evenly distribute food to each chick when the larger, stronger chicks are snatching it from her beak.

  • Michael Blencowe:

    01 Jun 2018

    13:00 It’s been non-stop vole shredding action in the nest box today. There has been voles, birds and mice (and another rat) brought in almost constantly over the past two hours. The female hasn’t even finished ripping one rodent apart before the male appears with another.

  • Michael Blencowe:

    01 Jun 2018

    There’s 6 chicks in the nest which is more than we expected. That’s a lot of hungry mouths to feed. Sadly, probably too many. The female will try and distribute the food but ultimately there will be stronger chicks that dominate. It’s a situation that occurs in many bird’s nests. The weaker chicks will not survive. I’m just hoping we get 4 chicks out of the nest – but it’s not going to be easy viewing over the next week. Just try not to pick any favourites…

  • Andrew Bertram:

    31 May 2018

    Did my eyes deceive me or did I count 5 chicks during the feed at approx 13.40Hrs!

  • Matt Musgrove:

    31 May 2018

    5 chicks had a good feed (of a largish mammal!) at 13:50 and a another smaller feed less than an hour before that :) Fabulous live footage :)

  • Michael Blencowe:

    31 May 2018

    Got my first good view of the chicks today! I counted 4 hungry beaks as their mum stuffed them full of vole. We’ll put the footage up here shortly but meanwhile it is available on the Sussex Wildlife Trust Nature Table Facebook page.

  • Chris Townsend:

    29 May 2018

    Great to be able to see the chicks now, their little heads bobbing up and down, mummy’s doing a great job!

  • Sam:

    25 May 2018

    There was the handover of a rodent at 10.16 today – 25 May – great example of the parents communicating and exchanging food

  • Michael Blencowe:

    25 May 2018

    Things should start getting mighty crowded in the nest very soon. At birth the chicks will weigh just 14-18g but this weight will double in just two days. By the end of the first week some of them could weigh over 100g. This incredible weight gain is typical for birds of prey. Meanwhile the female kestrel has started to lose weight. Almost every last bit of mouse, vole and bird being delivered to her by the male is fed to the chicks. This does mean that when she joins in the hunting in about 10 days she’ll be a bit more streamlined. (And while I was typing this a Turtle Dove was calling just outside the nest).

  • Michael Blencowe:

    24 May 2018

    The eggs hatched on 23rd May. We can’t see the chicks (they’re tucked in below the camera) but you can hear their cheeping! There were a few broken egg shells in the nest but the female has either disposed of (or maybe even eaten) these. For the next few weeks the female will stay with the chicks – and will still be brooding them. The male will be doing all the hunting. He wont be coming in to the nest yet – he’ll catch the food, call as he approached and then the female will leave the nest, pick it and return. Food can be stored by the entrance but will be discarded if its been there too long. Not sure how many chicks we have but things are going to get busy from now on.

  • Sam:

    24 May 2018

    They’ve hatched – listen for the squeaking – and you can see the egg shells they’ve discarded. Thanks Michael for the tip-off!

  • Chris Townsend:

    21 May 2018

    I’ve been watching and waiting every day (top job with the camera!) the eggs must be close to hatching any day soon, right? Papa & mama kestrel will be kept SO busy when the chicks make an appearance, so exciting!

  • Elizabeth Hindson:

    11 May 2018

    It’s great to see what happens in the nest box. Thank you Scottish Power.

  • Michael scaysbrook:

    10 May 2018

    That good news looking forward to seeing the baby’s

  • Don’t worry folks. The male is still about. At this stage in the proceedings the female is stuck on the nest incubating. She’s been getting hot in there during the recent heatwave and you can see her panting! The male’s got it easy – he’s out in the fresh air but he is returning to do his bit from time to time. I was leading a walk at Woods Mill last night and at about 7:30 he flew in calling and landed on top of the box with an evening meal (a mouse or a vole). She was off the eggs and out in a flash! – She snatched the food and flew off into the oak for some supper. She’ll use this time too for a bit of a stretch and a preen and toilet business. Meanwhile he jumped into the nest to guard the eggs until she returned. Wont be long until those chicks appear….then ‘pops’ will have his work cut out!

  • Michael scaysbrook:

    08 May 2018

    I haven’t seen the mate for a long time hope he is ok

  • Anna Herrieven:

    04 May 2018

    We’ve been watching all evening and haven’t seen her partner – she popped out to get herself a snack at 8’ish (she’s saving it on the side there for later) – but no sign of pops – has something happened to him?

  • Norma Ratcliff:

    03 May 2018

    Stunning birds a privilege to be able to watch them in their home. Thanks to all concerned who gave us the chance to watch such intimate moments.

  • Margaret Sheldon:

    03 May 2018

    Wonderful! So pleased you have obtained this funding, and what a good use for it. I shall be a regular visitor to the webcam. Not very nice if you are a vole………

  • Kestrels lay 4-6 eggs on alternate days so the whole egg laying process can around 10 days. At the moment I would guess she has 2/3 eggs underneath her in the nest. She’s still popping out now and then (to food, wash, preen) and when she does this the male (with the grey head) flies in to keep an eye on the eggs. Before the last egg is laid she’ll start incubating them full time – so she’ll be sat on the eggs for around 30 days. During this time he will be flying to feed her about 4 voles a day.

  • Phil:

    24 Apr 2018

    While building this page, in popped the kestrel! Fancy that!

  • The story so far. Our Kestrels stayed together throughout the winter and we observed courtship behaviour in early spring. Like many species courtship the involves the male passing food to the female to prove he’s a great provider and that this territory is a suitable rodent-packed place to nest. Throughout late March and April the female became increasingly inactive and sat on the nestbox ledge conserving her energy and building up her wait in anticipation of the next few weeks of being sat on the eggs. In the third week of April she started permanantly sitting on the nest located at the back of the box so we can assume that she is on eggs. Sitting here (just out of view below the camera) was always inevitable but our main priority is helping the Kestrels to produce a handful of chicks and we made sure we put the camera where it would not be an obstruction for them. We’ll see a lot more action in May when those eggs hatch.