Bird Watching (UK) - - Species Hobbies -

past, in easy range. In for­mer times she would never have missed an op­por­tu­nity like that as Em­peror Moths were a favourite tip­ple. You can un­der­stand, it was par­tic­u­larly galling for the male to be bring­ing in a House Martin – re­ally hard to catch – when a moth is fly­ing al­most in front of your part­ner’s nose. I vis­ited the fam­ily a few weeks ago. The eggs had hatched. The male’s day be­gan at 4.40am, when it flew into the twi­light. Half an hour later it brought in the first meal for the fam­ily. There was an awk­ward si­lence when I re­alised the meal was a Lin­net. The fe­male didn’t ever bother with the food-pass, just stayed on the nest and de­liv­ered the mea­gre bun­dle to the chicks. It was a tor­rid day. The male did its best and brought in seven items, all of them birds, and not a sin­gle House Martin or Swift was among them. The last meal came in at 8pm, more than 15 hours af­ter the first. The young were ad­e­quately fed, and the fe­male took in the sec­ond last item, a Sky Lark, for it­self. I won­dered if ev­ery day was like this, but wasn’t able to get an an­swer. I heard, though, that the pre­vi­ous day had been some­thing of a low point: a Bank Vole. I didn’t hear from my cor­re­spon­dent for a while af­ter that, so I tried to find out what I could. It was quite sur­pris­ing to hear that the young were do­ing fine. A whole month af­ter hatch­ing they were Given an abun­dant sup­ply, Hob­bies will bring hirundines (left) or even Swifts (above) for their young, as a great source of aerial pro­tein A high pro­por­tion of Hob­bies’ di­ets, par­tic­u­larly in late sum­mer and au­tumn, con­sists of drag­on­flies, taken in flight Hob­bies can mainly be seen in cen­tral, south­ern and eastern Eng­land but sight­ings in south Wales, north of Eng­land and south­ern Scot­land are pos­si­ble. Spot them hunt­ing over wood­land edges and heath­lands where large in­sects are plen­ti­ful. Gravel pits are a favourite, too. It hunts over open coun­try­side and also over wa­ter. When hunt­ing, it’s ca­pa­ble of rapid speeds and breath­tak­ing turns. It’ll catch drag­on­flies and other large in­sects with its talons and eat them in flight. about to fly, and all three had sur­vived. But was the male Hobby any bet­ter sup­ported? I tried to ob­tain some in­for­ma­tion from the part­ner. She was preen­ing and do­ing her nails, that is, her claws. I heard later that through­out the breed­ing pe­riod she had not caught a sin­gle meal for the chicks. Af­ter the last meal was de­liv­ered the male would of­ten go out at night, catch­ing in­sects. Who could have guessed that males would be treated like this? For two months some males bring in every­thing for the whole fam­ily, and the strain re­duces them to catch­ing ter­res­trial fur and cheap fare such as House Spar­row. The more en­light­ened part­ners help in later stages, but there is sim­ply too much of this dump­ing of re­spon­si­bil­ity on the male go­ing on in the bird­ing world. I must speak out. Hobby fe­males are bone idle, and they are not alone. Oh dear, too much hon­esty. There goes my pub­lic ser­vice award.

Most peo­ple think that the life of a Hobby is ex­cit­ing and glam­orous, and that is what is so sad


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