Tuesday, 29 March 2011

The Hobby.

Hobby Fly Past

For most birders the casual sighting of a Hobby - whether it is soaring on crescent wings or dashing in pursuit of  dragonflies or perhaps Sand Martins - causes the heartbeat to increase in pace....well it would mine!

This falcons lithe form instantly conjures up an image of compact power, with strokes of the wing and graceful flight equally matched by the sight of this little beauty when perched. There are few who have been fortunate enough to observe this creature in its hidden haunts of heath and down, broken forest or farmland, in particular when this bird is engaged at the time when its unobtrusive breeding period is in full swing. Despite the inconspicuous behaviour of the Hobby, it is a species which has been studied by numerous ornithologists in the Western Palearctic, but my being as far removed in knowledge from such people as is imaginable, I thought I'd make a few notes of my own about this stunning falcon. 

Hobby 3

My very first post on Birds2blog included the only photograph of a Hobby I ever achieved and I'll probably need more than a little luck to ever have another chance as the species is to say the least a pretty hard one to come by in our area in North Lancashire and beyond, though to be honest breeding has been thought to be probable in the area in recent years, brought about by the sightings of 'one or two' birds seen regularly during July at various sites in the Lune Valley and also at Leighton Moss, circumstantial evidence also appears to be strong enough to bring about this probability. However, with the situation regarding 'collectors' of various kinds still on the rampage since the dark ages, plus all other types of people 'on the loose' with no regard for wildlife, your not ever likely to be on the list of 'the permitted' to know the whereabouts of breeding Hobbies I can assure you. All this said, because of its habitat requirements the Hobby is never going to be numerous in Lancashire.

Of course I can always be accused of being negative when it comes to making notes on some aspects of birds, but I regard my comments as 'realistic' rather than negative. Regarding the Hobby's migration, favourable weather conditions will assist it to migrate at a considerable height - and here's where I go negative - when two weather systems meet causing less favourable conditions with overcast skies, this brings the birds down to visible height when they - and other raptor species - come within range of the notorious Maltese hunters guns which can result in a staggering 600 Hobby's being brought down in some years out of totals of 5,000 other birds of prey.

On a more 'positive' note, at a time when so many other bird species are in decline - some seriously - the elegant little Hobby is spreading northwards in Britain and now breeds regularly in Cheshire and Yorkshire, but in Lancashire and North Merseyside I'm not aware of any fully authenticated records of successful breeding of this enigmatic and exciting falcon, but then....who am I to be privy to such info!

Thanks for the photography BR, they've been on Birds2blog before but are still worth a few more views and are....Brilliant. 


I am reliably informed of 2 Little Ringed Plovers on Conder Pool this morning....I'm not at liberty to publish my informants name but who already knows of my appreciation for this report. 


Phil said...

Got me going for a minute there PW when I thought you might have had a mega March bird.

Richard Shilling said...

I'd really love to see one and only shoot it with my camera. How anyone can feel like they've achieved something, when they have shot something for fun, gawd only knows. What unimaginative, small-minded people they are. My heart skips a beat whenever I see anything even slightly unusual. A flower, a leaf, a bird, or even new behaviour (like the bat I saw feeding in broad daylight at lunchtime near to Nicky Nook recently). Each moment absolutely precious. And no need to harm anything whilst doing it. My life is plenty rich enough withour ruining anything elses.

Pete Woodruff said...

Richard I have a bad habit of repeating myself especially on Birds2blog but....good to hear from you again, and to see you're still looking in and making comments from time to time.

Sorry you dwelled on the 'hunters' but FULLY appreciate and share your feelings.

Frank said...

Always look forward to these consumate hunters returning. Great to watch even if the camera (or the operator in my case) hasn't yet got a decent image.

Pete Woodruff said...

Thanks for this Frank. I intend 'looking you up' but have run out of time today....but I'll be back and will be in touch.

Thanks also you going eh!

Geoff Gradwell said...

I was fortunate to find one feeding near Newton Marsh on a post being dived-bombed by House Martins in June 2009, you'll find it on my blog under 'hobby'.
Hopefully a sign of more to come.
We live in hope of seeing others.