The first time I saw a Dickinson’s kestrel
, (Falco dickinsoni)
was on the famous KNP Mahoni loop near Punda Maria. It sat sharing a tree with a lilac-breasted roller, giving me a good size reference. The only “evidence” I could manage of the sighting was a hand-held cell phone camera shot through the eyepiece of my spotting scope… the ultimate digiscoping experience!
Dickinson’s kestrel occurs in lightly wooded areas with exposed perches and sparse groundcover, spending more time on exposed perches in winter than in the breeding season, when it tends to perch more in hidden shady areas. It occurs singly or in pairs, often along roads.
Dickinson’s preys mainly on rodents, lizards, small birds, frogs and insects, which it captures on the ground after diving from an exposed perch or after an aerial pursuit. Unlike most other kestrels Dickinson’s does not hover.
My second encounter with DK was just north of the Babalala picnic spot on the Shingwedzi/Punda road.
Again I had other birds (Magpie shrikes) in close proximity giving a nice size-comparison… This time the kestrel didn’t stay on its original perch like forever, but moved about, giving me better opportunities to photograph it.