Kestrel's Life On The Ocean Wave

If we're honest, The Daily Mail would not be the first place we'd expect to find a consistent raft of interesting raptor-related stories, but - all credit to them - this consistently proves to be the case.

Seagoing Kestrel 1
"Lucky" by name, lucky by nature - this young kestrel
hitched a lift back to Suffolk by boat

Late last year we read in their on-line edition of a Kestrel which had hitched back to shore aboard a 30ft Cornish pilot cutter being sailed from Holland to the East of England by Carol & Max Raffe from Crowfield in Suffolk, just a few miles down the road from where we are based in Stonham Aspal.

Some 25 miles out to sea, Carol felt a tapping on her neck and was surprised to turn and find the exhausted kestrel sitting on her shoulder. After an abortive attempt to then make it back to the coast under it's own steam, the bird - which Carol & Max nicknamed 'Lucky' - landed back on deck. She remained there for the remainder of the voyage until landfall was reached at the mouth of the River Deben, when she took off to perch on the nearby church in Ramsholt.

Carol said of when the bird joined them: "There was nothing in sight except a nearby wind farm so I was completely stunned when it bird landed my shoulder. We just could not work out how a land bird was so far out at sea.

Seagoing Kestrel 2
When first she landed the tired Kestrel settled in somewhat warily...

"My shock must have made it decide to move off and it then settled near the coiled mainsheet. We tried to give her food as she looked absolutely famished but it seemed to spook her and she took flight - weirdly landing on the water. As she is a land bird we became terrified that she might drown as she would have no natural swimming skills."

'But she managed to regain herself before landing on my husband’s shoulder and then settled down on the boat and stayed with us for four-and-a-half hours. She was like a seasoned sailor and soon just pottered about the boat and didn't seem to care about us at all.

Seagoing Kestrel 3
… but as the voyage wore on, she became quite accustomed to her situation.

Husband Max, a local Scout leader and technical designer for BT, added that astonished when the bird landed on his wife’s shoulder. He said: "I could not believe it. It is odd to see a bird of prey so far out to see but for it to land on my wife’s shoulder completely out of the blue is just incredible. There was a strong easterly wind at the time so we think it must have been blown out to sea from the Suffolk coast.:

Photos by Carol Raffe. For more visit
The Mail On-Line