The kestrel is a most skilled hunter.

However, unlike the peregrine falcon sparrow hawk and hobby, all of which employ deadly airborne smash and grab tactics, the kestrel quietly perches in a tree (pictured) or on a post, scanning the ground ready to pounce on a victim below.

Alternatively, a favourite method and one we are more likely to see is to hover at some height, able to detect voles and mice which reflect ultra violet light from their urine as they scamper through the grass.

I'm watching a kestrel hovering now. He is facing into a gentle breeze, wings and tail fanned out making sleight adjustments to ensure his head is pointing directly earthwards and perfectly still to enable him to focus on movements below.

Gradually he drops down a metre or so, hovers again, then descends another metre almost as if he is suspended under a piece of string. Then when a few feet above the ground he half folds his wings and plunges rapidly into the grass.

A brief flurry then he rises with a small rodent clamped in his talons and flies away into the nearest tree belt to consume his prey.

Of course he is not successful every time and having watched kestrels hovering many times I would estimate he makes a kill about once in three or four attempts.