How to properly distinguish kestrel vs peregrine in flight/soaring?

Hello, 

Recently I keep seeing what I think are soaring peregrines, but I cannot properly distinguish them. They are definitely either kestrels or peregrines, however most of my books/online don’t help much to distinguish them. Also, I am pretty poor at taking photos of high flying birds, so I thought it’s more beneficial if I identified them (experience anyway). Is there any tips or tricks to differentiating these birds in flight? (I know what they look like when perched or travelling but more specifically when they soar). Thanks, Ellis 

  • Ellis it may be worth getting hold of a copy of a decent Raptor id book such as the Dick Forsman "Raptors of Europe" or the Collins "Birds of prey of Britain and Europe" they have some great photos and sketches of raptors in flight and plenty of hints. The RSPB British birds book has some good flight drawings and id hints too. Stay away from American id books/apps as, brilliant as they look, they can confuse the issue. No better way than getting out there and watch, make notes and take photos and maybe try to work the id out from that. Even the best of raptor workers do not reckon to be spot on 100% of the time.

    Pete

    Birding is for everyone no matter how good or bad we are at it,enjoy it while you can

  • In reply to Seaman:

    I’ll have to have a look, I tend to use the ‘Britain’s Birds’ book that I bought off Amazon for everyday birds, I’m pretty sure it’s not American. Amazon seems to have good offers so I might get one then.
  • Ellis the Lancs wildlife trust have a great section on raptor id which should really suit beginners and may be worth a look

    Pete

    Birding is for everyone no matter how good or bad we are at it,enjoy it while you can

  • Hi

    to my eyes Peregrines have broader wings so in full soaring mode with tail fanned the width of the base of the wings is the same width as the tail
    Kestrels have a proportionately longer narrower tail and in full soar mode the fanned tail appears longer than the width of the wing base

    S

    For advice about Birding, Identification,field guides,  binoculars, scopes, tripods,  etc - put 'Birding Tips'   into the search box

  • In reply to seymouraves:

    I’ll keep that in my mind for the next time I see them. From that description it sounds like a peregrine but I’ll decide next time
  • In reply to seymouraves:

    Not for identification purposes, but so I can fully understand what you mean. Does this bird have the same length tail as wing base? I would say yes but I might be confused. Thanks

  • Trying to identify birds on the wing, particularly when soaring high can be very challenging. What may help is studying how they fly, as in flight formation rather than the basic flap the wings and off they go.

    Also if time allows, and you manage to watch, how they chase their prey.

    I'm far from an expert, I'm still at the first rung on the ladder of learning, and still get my ID's wrong, and thankfully, folk here will correct me.

    I use a combination of books and websites, sticking to the known and trusted sources like the RSPB, Wikipedia and Birdguides, plus the books already mentioned along with one other, "Collins Complete Guide - British Wildlife : A photographic guide to every common species" available from many good outlets which has some very clear pictures to make some identifications from.

    Mike

    Flickr Peak Rambler

  • Hi

    the bird in the photograph is not a kestrel- it appears to show heavy moustachials- I favour Peregrine

    S

    For advice about Birding, Identification,field guides,  binoculars, scopes, tripods,  etc - put 'Birding Tips'   into the search box

  • In reply to seymouraves:

    I thought it look liked a peregrine but I didn’t know how rare they are around my area. How far do they usually travel to hunt? I’m asking this because in one of the nearby villages (roughly 10 miles away) there’s a confirmed breeding pair, so could this be one of them? Thanks