Rare bird of prey spotted in Hackney Wick

Sighting made during RSPB’s annual Birdwatch weekend

A rare sighting of a bird of prey was made in Hackney Wick last month, during a national bird watching survey.

The kestrel was seen in Leabank Square during an hour-long bird watching session for the Royal Society for the Protection of Birds’ (RSPB) Big Garden Birdwatch over the last weekend of January.

The RSPB holds the bird watch every year to get an idea of what’s happening with UK birds, and results give the conservation charity an idea of which species and habitats to focus on.

Tim Webb RSPB London communications manager, said: “Numbers of kestrels breeding in Greater London run in to double figures, but sightings within the inner London boroughs such as Hackney are more unusual.”

While Essex has 55 recorded breeding pairs of kestrel, there are 18 in Hertfordshire, eight in Middlesex, none in Kent and Bucks - and just two recorded in London.

Kestrels usually hover at a height of 10–20 metres before they swoop down on their prey which includes insects, small mammals like shrews and other birds.

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“To have a kestrel land in your garden is a noteworthy experience,” said Mr Webb.

“Some people would be delighted, others less so.

“The appearance of a bird of prey, such as a kestrel or sparrowhawk, is usually enough to send smaller birds diving for cover - so during a Birdwatch, it would make for pretty dull viewing in the minutes after the visit,” he added.

The first Birdwatch 33 years ago alerted the conservation charity to the decline in house sparrows, song thrushes and starlings. Studies suggest a lack of shelter and food are the major causes.