Saturday, September 10, 2011

Follow A Hobby?

I nearly didn’t get out birding this morning. On the strength of the BBC forecast for solid rain throughout the morning I lay in bed until 8am, but when I eventually did reach Pilling I had a great old morning.

Maybe it was the warm but stiff South-Easterly that kept the rain at bay, pushing the clouds out into the Irish Sea. Right from the off there was a pronounced movement of Swallows again, all flying east and south-east into the prevailing wind, difficult to count in the buffeting wind but probably 4-500 in a couple of hours.


I sat in my usual spot watching 4 Wheatears, all probably different birds from yesterday since there has been a marked movement of the species in the Fylde all week. I found a single Meadow Pipit there this morning, but It’s slightly odd that we have yet to see any numbers of Meadow Pipits, a species that migrates from much the same locations and in similar calendar time as Wheatears. It is stranger still when at Spurn Point on the East coast on Thursday, 4000 mipits were counted on the move south, the difference probably explained by those being birds of a more easterly origin.

There was no doubting the Wheatear I caught this morning, a big, bright, juvenile male of the Greenland race, Oenanthe oenanthe leucorrhoa, wing length 110mm.




From the stile I could see other Wheatears taking an interest in the mealworms, but the slightly tired, end-of-season wrigglies obviously didn’t gyrate enough for a second catch. After a while the Wheatears flew together along the wall, heading for Fluke or the delights of Knott End, and I didn’t see them again, so I concentrated on the marsh and the sea wall.

It always happens the same way, out of the blue, unexpected, but in view of the Swallows, the muggy air and warming wind, perhaps not totally unpredictable was the appearance of a Hobby - Hobbies are said to follow migrating Swallows. I think it came across the marsh from the North but within a second or two of my spotting it the bird hugged the sea wall for a brief few seconds and then rose up for a fleeting spat with a hovering Kestrel, then dropped low again before continuing its path east. I lost the dark bird against the distant trees of Lane Ends.

It’s difficult to follow a Hobby (pun intended) and so flushed by the shooter’s tractor, even the sight of a Green Sandpiper couldn’t match a peerless Hobby. Other counts today: 3 Little Egret, 2 Grey Heron, 30 Shelduck, 220 Curlew, 75 Lapwing, 140 Teal, 4 Wigeon, 1 Peregrine, 70 Goldfinch, 8 Linnet and 2 Mute Swan.


Mute Swan

My pal in Maine USA said she would send us Katia, thanks a bunch Grace.


Ayuwat Jearwattanakanok said...

So many Barn Swallows here in Thailand already. It's surely one of the very early migrants. Lovely photos of the wheatears again.

Paco Sales said...

El día te acompaño y no tuvistes lluvia, vistes una gran cantidad de golondrinas ehhh, un bello reportaje Phil, recibe un abrazo

Seasons said...

Yes, some hobbies are hard to follow. I have to say, these pictures are some the best. Perhaps it is the great increase in numbers of birds. But then, that wouldn't explain the superb images of the Kestrel and Mute Swans. This has been a great birding and blogging day for you, Phil. Thank you!

Kay L. Davies said...

Beautiful photo of the two Mute Swans flying in unison, Phil.
I had to look up "hobby bird" in Wikipedia because "hobby" alone wouldn't have done it! Very interesting falcon, with a long history. I can well imagine it having a spat with a Kestrel.
The close-up of that young Wheatear is beautiful, too.
— K

Kay, Alberta, Canada
An Unfittie's Guide to Adventurous Travel

EG Wow said...

Your bird shots are wonderful. I guess you must have a very good lens to get in so close. Even so, the shots are excellent.

Mary Howell Cromer said...

Ok, before I forget, what is a Hobby? Thanking you in advance:)
The marvel of the Swallow, makes me happy! Now that is a whole lot of, how does one collectively count them? Is it done by sections and allowing for so many per section? Your work is so interesting!

Cheryl said...

Gorgeous birds. I especially love the kestrel, mute swan, and the wheatear.

grammie g said...

Hey Phil Old Pal...looks like Katia is doing just what I told here to do ....your on your own with the fence...sorry about that ; }
Phil that is one nice shot of the Swans in flight ..reminds me of those jet planes in those air shows !
You better be out there in that storm ..rare birds may be blowing through!!

Your Pal Gal

PS...don't forget the rock and rope to anchors yourself down!!

eileeninmd said...

Lovely series of birds and photos, Phil. I love the Wheatear. Impressive count of birds, 220 curlews, I would like to see one or two.

Phil said...

Hi everyone and thanks for your comments. A Hobby is a small falcon similar in size to a Kestrel. It is very scarce and elusive here in the NW of the UK and so a much prized find for birders. It is difficult to get images, they are so fast.

Tatjana Parkacheva said...

Excellent and very nice photos.

Regards and best wishes

chris said...

Beautiful psot once again. It turned out that our meadow pipit have not left yet, there are on the sourthern beaches ;-)

NatureFootstep said...

Do you have a net so you can catch the birds? If not I have no clue of how you can take them. And photograph them in your hand. My old camerea could do that, but my canon is out of range for that close shots.

I have a few documentary shots of the Hobby. :)

Birding is Fun! said...

Still lovin' your daily posts Phil! Keep up the good work.

Stu said...

The Hobby was a nice find, I only ever saw one in the NW........

NatureFootstep said...

thanks for the reply! :)

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