5 July 2016

A fine Hobby

The merest hint of warmer weather was enough to send me scurrying to Brandon Marsh for a Friday evening stroll.

It’s been a while since I’ve done an evening session, and I’d forgotten how gloriously tranquil it can be.

A couple of Common Terns provided the early entertainment, alternating between feeding two chicks and squabbling over their own share.

The Oystercatcher chicks are now up and around, and starting to look like small Oystercatchers in their own right (albeit very scruffy ones). Talking of scruffy, most of the ducks are now well into eclipse.

On the Teal Pool it was great to see my first two Green Sandpipers of the year, presumably females which have left their breeding grounds ahead of the young and male birds (as is their habit). One of these two certainly had the boldly-speckled back of a breeding bird, the other less so.

Photo: Ron Knight
News of both Barn Own chicks and Hobbies from the Ted Jury Hide had me scurrying to the end of the reserve – sadly neither appeared during the half-hour I had left.

But there’s always another day, and it happened to be Sunday. Back with J at my side, we were down to one Green Sandpiper but up to a full complement of two Hobbies.

These are thrilling birds – powerful, agile, elegant and beautiful. I could watch them for hours: perched one can only admire their colours, their markings and their poise; once airborne their hunting of dragonflies (and occasionally hirundines) is frankly astonishing to see.

Bird of the weekend: Eurasian Hobby (Falco Subbuteo), I think probably my favourite raptor. A summer visitor, the Hobby is best seen on warm days from June to September hawking over water, marsh and scrubland for dragonflies and small birds. 

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