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The Season Of The Kestrel

Free-range Folklore

Now is the time of the patient kestrel, waiting on the wire to catch the exposed mice in the stubbly, short cut fields below. I have observed several kestrels on my walks. There are two or three in the fields around the local farmland and a family in the hay meadow next to me.

Hawks and falcons were once used as a symbol of status and when hunting with hawks, certain breeds were preferred depending on your standing in society. Jo Woolf, in her book, ‘Britain’s Birds, A Treasury of Fact, Fiction and Folklore,’ notes that kings had gyrfalcons, sparrowhawks were for priests and Mary, Queen of Scots, had a merlin. For some of these birds, it clearly didn’t take long for them to go from being the hunter’s loyal help to the livestock owner’s curse.

The kestrel’s habit of hovering has earnt it many names: stand hawk, windsucker, hoverhawk and windbibber. In the south of England it is known as windhover, the title of a Gerrad Manley Hopkins poem.

To read more about hawks and falcons and read one of my original stories ‘Kitty and The Kestrel’ not published anywhere else you can read my article for paid subscribers here.

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Cerridwen's Cauldron
Cerridwen's Cauldron
Dawn Nelson