Sunday, 24 August 2014

Hobby-fest at Cranford Park

Following on from yesterdays blog, we know the juvenile Hobbys at Cranford Park are roughly 8 weeks old, and they are flying though not hunting. The adult birds are bringing in their food, mainly dragonflies, and today a small crowd of us witnessed several food passes. It wont be long before the juveniles are hunting for their own food, and not long after that they, and their parents, will disperse and make the long journey to winter in Africa.
Therefore at the most, we will only be able to watch them at Cranford Park for another few weeks. As they are now fledgings rather than nestlings, I can reveal their favourite tree (but not the tree they nested in) is within Cranford Woods not far from the ha-ha wall boundary.
Hobbys are a Schedule 1 nesting bird, and therefore nesting sites are generally not made public knowledge until after the young have fledged. Next year, if I am lucky enough to find their nest, I will not be publishing it.
Hobbys arrive back in the UK from Africa in April-early May. They often pair up for life, and their territorial and courtship display usually occurs mid-late May. Like Kestrels, they do not make their own nests, but prefer old crows nests, or even old Buzzards and Red Kites nests. The female Hobby lays between 1 and 4 eggs, usually over 2-3 day intervals, during mid June. However, like Sparrowhawks, Hobbys can time the egg laying to coincide with food abundance. A bad spring can see the eggs being laid a few weeks later. Incubation is 28-34 days with the male bringing food to the female. The nestlings stay in the nest for between three and five weeks before fledging. For more fascinating facts, figures and more about surveying Hobbys please see this link
Today I spent a brief half an hour with Tony James before he had to leave. We had both of the juveniles out on the same branch in clear view.
Later on I was graced with the presence of the Mayor of Hounslow. Corinna Smart is also a fellow birder friend of mine, and thankfully for the birds sake, she turned up without her robes and official chains. It's ok, she knows me well and knew I'd be mentioning her in my blog :)
Sue, John, Phillip, Joe and Rick also joined us in the afternoon, and we all got to see both of the juveniles, both of the adults, some lovely acrobatic hunting swoops and as mentioned earlier, several food passes between the adults and juveniles. Sadly no photos of the food passes, too many over head tree branches, but I did manage some more poor shots of the juveniles on their apparent favourite branch.....

You can see from the photos below why I now have a sore neck. The birds are often perched very high up in their favoured tree....
We've only seen dragonflies being bought in by the parents to feed the juveniles, but Ralph Hancock who writes the Kensington Gardens and Hyde Park blog has confirmed his three juveniles Hobbys are also being fed on a diet of Ring Necked Parakeets. Please click here for the link to his blog. His report on the unusual food habit is on his blog post for Friday 22nd August.
I spent a little bit of time around the wood circle hoping for another sighting of the Brown Argus butterfly, but to no avail. It wasn't as warm and sunny today as yesterday, and there was a distinct lack of butterfly sightings in general. However I did find two of the Hobbys favoured prey. A Southern Hawker and a Migrant Hawker.....

Despite the cloudy weather it was a great day with like-minded friends. Thank you to everyone who made the trip to see our lovely Hobbys, and special thanks to John for bringing a large flask of coffee. I'm glad to see I've got you well trained my friend :)

1 comment:

  1. It was really lovely to be able to watch these wonderful Birds of Prey this afternoon in great company!