Saturday, 3 July 2010

Got a Hobby....

Hobby. Phil Slade.

Well I know someone who had yesterday and whilst the photograph above could have been achieved anywhere it was actually taken over Pilling Marsh. Now I don't wish to 'go on' too much about this sighting but the Hobby in this/our area is something of a rarity as opposed to the record I saw earlier today (RBA) of twenty (yes, that does say twenty) at Thorne Moors NNR in South Yorkshire, but believe me I've seen better numbers than that reported at some locations in this country but you're never going to see them like this here I promise you and more to the point you'll need the luck of PS yesterday to ever see one at all.

If they do breed in our area they are strictly suppressed and I fully support that situation. Within the LDBWS area they are recorded as a scarce summer visitor, typically with around five records per year since the beginning of the nineties, and they are most commonly reported at Leighton Moss and autumn Swallow roosts in the Lune Valley, so as with lots of other bird species its not going to be a good idea to hold your breath whilst you see/find your first Hobby in Lancashire, that could try Brockholes Wetlands LWT. 

One or two brief but interesting facts about the Hobby, not necessarily up to date I should add.... 

In Western Europe the latest population estimate for France is of 1,500-2,300 pairs but there are some differences of opinion on these figures and a claim of 30,000-50,000 pairs is strongly contested as a extrapolation too far. Ten years ago there was an estimated 75-100 pairs occurring in the north and east of Belgium where it was proved that one-sixth of all 10km squares held breeding Hobbies, the bird was also extensively studied in Germany where it occupies in all regions except the North Sea coasts and the mountains. 

There are some truly amazing facts about the Hobby's hunting and diet, for example some of the more surprising prey items recorded in the Palearctic are, Black Grouse, Cuckoo, Great-spotted Woodpecker, and even more surprising Common Tern, Little Tern, and Common Gull, the list goes on and is pretty impressive.

With regard to Hobbies historically in the North of England, a pair may have nested in County Durham in 1874, whilst in 1995 the presence of a juvenile in a well wooded site probably constituted the first breeding record of the 20th century. It's pretty sad that I note four of the five Hobbies recorded in  the county of Lancashire between 1878-1915 feel to a gamekeepers gun. If you're ever in conversation with me I'd be more than obliged if you could refrain from using the word 'gamekeeper' during our meeting.

For most birders - and certainly for me - the sighting of a Hobby, whether soaring on crescent wings or dashing in pursuit of dragonflies and martins is the cause for a quickening of heart beat but something I have to date experienced no more than three next one is long overdue.

And finally....

At least 14 Little Ringed Plover including at least 9 juveniles at Myerscough Quarry today is a clear indication of what a little undisturbed habitat can do for our birds and the success of  their breeding attempts.      


Warren Baker said...

Hobbies are so cool Pete! I get two or three sightings each month from May till september, never tire of them .

Pete Woodruff said...

Just to prove my suggestion 'don't hold your breath' whilst waiting to see the next one in our area was a load of rubbish, one turns up this afternoon at Leighton Moss....Mmmmm!