WHERE TO WATCH?
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
BIRD FLESH ON THE WING