Wednesday, 30 April 2014

New Hobbies

Yesterday at about 9pm I was called to the window by a shout of "the kestrel's back!" All winter a female kestrel used our hangar as a base, slept (and all that that involved there overnight, but never so much as looked at the kestrel box and vanished in March, at the same time as the male from the Lavoir disappeared.

I looked toward the poplar plantation, where a pair of streamlined bodies were swooping around. Another shout: "No, they're hobbies!"

Hand held camera at dusk, please note

 Dusk was gathering, so we couldn't see clearly the red "trousers" that the hobby is famous for. What we had to go on was the flight behaviour (sweeping rapidly over an area, no hovering, grabbing insects out of the air with its feet), the shape (long, narrow, pointed wings) and the contrast (between the white neck and the dark moustache, and between the dark back and the pale underside of the body and wing. Tim took over 60 photographs in about a 20 minutes, as they caught and consumed a good number of flying insects. Their flight path took the around the poplar plantation, across the Aigronne at the barrage and along the riverbank to Le Pressoir and the road below Grandmont.

The red trousers are visible in pictures lightened using Photoshop

The hobby falco subbuteo faucon hobereau is another migratory species, taking its chances against the hunters' guns. This little corner is ideal for them: they like riverbanks with woodlands, and the only disturbance is from fishermen who can be bothered to walk that far. I've been seeing "kestrels" over there for a couple of weeks, except that they looked wrong. Interestingly, the crows steered clear of them, whereas they would dive-bomb a buzzard and generally harrass it until they had driven it away. The hobby is a little smaller than a kestrel, though you'd have to see them side by side to say which was which. One was bigger than the other - in many raptor species, the female is considerably larger than the male, so we have a pair.

Light underparts...

May they stay and raise a family - they were a splendid sight!

I can do long, narrow, pointed wings for you!
But although the red trousers are more visible in this last shot....
visit this latest post of Paul Newport "The Breckland Birder" to see what Tim was trying to capture!!

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