Wednesday, 4 May 2011

There is a birding God!

Hobby (Russell F Spencer)
A couple days ago I was wishing for a Hobby to appear at my patch before I board the plane to Ethiopia next Monday. Well, the higher powers that be sent me one! I was delighted to have one drifting and circling over the grassland at The Scrubs this morning for at least 10 minutes. It was practically the first bird I saw!

I also watched a female Sparrowhawk perform an interesting hunting strategy. As I was parking my car on Braybrook Street, which borders the western edge of The Scrubs, she appeared from out of nearby Braybrook Wood flew right past me and into the playground of the school across the road. She was bombing at full tilt, seemingly heading into a brick wall as she chased after a sparrow. All the while she employed a undulating flight pattern like an enormous finch. The hunt was unsuccessful and she landed on a wire fence appearing to pump her tail before taking off with a crow in hot pursuit.

In recent years I have noticed that Sparrowhawks sometimes adopt different flight modes whilst hunting, perhaps to try and camouflage themselves as they approach their prey. Once, I watched a female fly the entire length of the grassland in a flight pattern not unlike a large Mistle Thrush - strong wingbeats with a slight undulation when her wings were closed. Her quarry, a flock of feeding Starlings, sussed her in the last minute and spooked. Last winter, whilst standing in the snow covered grassland watching a flock of finches, I was aware of a male that flew quite close to me trying to sneak up on the finches. The thing that initially threw me was that his flight pattern seemed quite Swallow-like with deep languid beats. Anyone else seen Sparrowhawks behave like that?

Anyway, any chance of a nice rarity dear Birding Gods?


Kah-Wai Lin said...

Great! You got the hobby!

Calvin Jones said...

Freaky when that happens.

I'd noticed quite a few Woodchat Shrike reports in Ireland this spring.

Thinking of likely local spots I figured Rosscarbery would be worth a look, and the next chance I got I headed down for a look.

Bang! Adult female woodchat shrike up on the telephone lines in the field adjacent to the road. I couldn't believe it!

The Urban Birder said...

There's a lot to be said for intiative thinking!