I was in the Alentejo region this morning so decided to drop into the LPN Centre as I am looking to become a member. For those that don’t know Portugal, Alentejo is the next region up from the Algarve and has large areas of Steppe terrain. The LPN is the Liga para a Protecção da Natureza (League for Protection of Nature) and they have a Lesser Kestrel breeding programme at a centre near Castro Verde which also has breeding European Rollers. Although they have a hide for the Lesser Kestrel and European Rollers it was booked out today so unavailable, this has to be booked in advance. I did take the camera along and although I didn’t get very close, I snapped a few photos of the Lesser Kestrel hunting. I wasn’t lucky enough to see a European Roller today, but will be back in the area more prepared.
The Lesser Kestrel is slightly smaller than the Common Kestrel and is also visibly different, however, it is sometimes difficult to tell the difference in the field. Although similar, they are in fact not a related species. One of the big differences is the Lesser Kestrel is a colonial bird, so is mostly seen in large groups whereas the Common Kestrel is often seen alone or with its mate.
They have a wingspan of between 58 and 72cm and is around 30cm in length. The main diet is insects rather than rodents, however, they will also eat mice.
In the Alentejo region the Lesser Kestrel nest in ruins, however due to further deterioration these sites are being lost, the LPN are creating new nest sites for them.