- Tuesday 8 March 2011
Late last year I was driving over to Millstone Edge from Sheffield, a week or two before the early winter snows, when I caught a glimpse out of the corner of my eye of a feathery bundle in the road, not far from the Fox House Inn. I was sure it was a kestrel, yet not flattened but perched. Brakes applied, I dove out of the car, wife and son abandoned looking more than a little confused. I sprinted back up the road a couple of hundred metres, frantically flapping warnings to passing cars as I saw what was now clearly a kestrel perched mid road. I scooped her up with my jumper.
Back in the car, the dog seemed in awe of the find. I kept the bird hooded and, seeing her more or less intact, parked up on the Longshaw Estate and waited 20 minutes before releasing her. But with no success: the bird had clearly come off the worst for wear after being struck by a car. National Trust rangers came to our assistance and eventually the bird made it to The Chestnut Centre, the otter, owl and wildlife park on the Rushup Edge road down to Chapel-en-le-Frith. They duly nursed and cared for the kestrel and after a week or two the bird started to regain the weight it had lost.
The winter has been long, grey and stormy and there just hasn't been much opportunity to make it out onto the moors in any prolonged good weather. But last week the forecast seemed settled and, after nearly four months in an aviary, the moment of truth came – time to release the kestrel back onto the moors. As the girls from The Chestnut Centre said, once you learn to fly you never forget. And away she flew.