It is a remarkable thing, simply to stand on a ledge 40 feet down the cliff face, with another 60 foot drop beneath, and almost share the volume with the birds. White kittiwakes wheel and soar, playing on the air currents, beneath and above and at eye level. Far below, tiny black purposeful guillemots fly fast-winged, insect-like, direct from the sea to the rocks. Something breaks this pattern about 20 feel below me. I see first something smaller than a gull, brown, launching from an inland ledge, flying seaward across the inlet to a high stack. I lose it, until again it flies across the chasm to the opposing face. After a few minutes it completes the triangle back to its starting place.
I watched through binoculars. My notes say, 16/7/14 St Abbs Head kestrel seen last night and today. Flies from cliff to cliff. This time carrying a small mammal. Calls, then eats, standing on prey, ripping. Then carefully places prey on shelf of rock and cleans beak on foliage before flying off. Defaecates while eating.
I had not expected to see this common falcon here, on a sea cliff. When I first looked, I thought I might instead see a peregrine. I am not sure where it was hunting – despite searching, I never saw them hanging on the breeze over the pastures just inland of the cliffs. Over the next two days I regularly saw a pair flying their triangle across this inlet. The male has grey plumage. This was the female.