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Kestrel, Portishead

For only the second time one, a male, of these splendid little falcons was hunting in the scrub near Kestrel Court. I’ve mentioned before how migrants use this ‘waste’ ground that is under threat from developers. In the intervening six months a sort of edge marker has gone up around half of it, so the birds’ tenure is coming to an end. I don’t know who’s moving in; I’ve heard Sainsbury’s or Lidl and either would be welcome but not with the knowledge that it means death for our kestrel.

Like the redshanks of Cardiff Bay, there’s nowhere for him to go. One of his food sources will dry up, this species is on the way out – especially since 2005 – and the combination is likely to be fatal.

One could argue that forty years ago this was railway land with little to offer any birds, so they’ve been lucky to have it in the interim. And by the way, I had believed that the site was earmarked as a possible park-and-ride if Portishead ever gets its railway back. Ha-ha! You’re right: that’s about as likely as Bristol City returning to the First – sorry, Premier – League of football.

But any argument over the history of land always leads back to a time when we weren’t here. It’s inevitable: one species’ grab means another’s loss in this zero-sum game. And zero-sum is still the way we think and the way we develop the world. We take; everything else gives.

This needn’t be so. The concept of urban greening, or wilderness, is decades – nay, centuries – old. The Aztecs’ Mexico City boasted lush garden rooftops before the Spanish crushed them under European tyranny. Indeed green roofs are readily available now, and locally too in the Blackdown Hills. I’m not saying a kestrel would be able to use such a space but other, equally endangered species could, such as black redstart, which has wintered in the area. How marvellous to win that as a breeding bird.

Pie in the sky, I know. A green roof on Lidl is as likely as the railway and Premier League football. And all because we don’t really give a shit.

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