By Gordon Riddle Whittles Publishing, 2011 Pbk, 198pp; many colour photographs ISBN 978-184995-029-9 Subbuteo code M20795 £18.99 BB Bookshop price £17.00 Kestrels for Company is the latest offering from this publisher in a growing series of species monographs with an autobiographical slant to them. This one describes Gordon Riddle's long-standing interest in the Common Kestrel Falco tinnunculus and his varied exploits in the field over many decades, updating his enjoyable Seasons with the Kestrel, first published 20 years ago. Once again, the focus is primarily on his long-term, intensive study of a breeding Kestrel population in Ayrshire, although, this time, he also describes recent visits to the Cape Verdes, Seychelles and Mauritius to gain insights into the local kestrels there. Another chapter is devoted to days spent in the field with fellow raptor workers in Scotland during their studies of other birds of prey. The writing style is easy yet authoritative, and there is a nice balance between personal anecdotes and more serious and considered discussions of conservation issues affecting the Kestrel (and other British raptors). The anec- dotes include the story of how the author found a Yellow-billed Cuckoo Coccyzus americanus at Port- land, only for the hapless bird to be grabbed by (you've guessed it!) a Kestrel, before being released after pursuit by angry birders. Several other Kestrel stories and unusual observations are reproduced from ornithological journals and magazines, including the notes pages of BB. In more serious vein, the varied factors thought to have con- tributed to worrying declines in Kestrel popula- tions in parts of Britain are discussed, providing a good, if broad, overview and highlighting the fact that we still have much to learn about this common and familiar species. The author is clearly an avid photographer and much of the nar- rative is brought to life by the inclusion of an image of the very bird or birds being described.
Issue 8

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