Saturday, 9 June 2012

Subbuteo is my hobby

The football was tedious, so at half-time we drove back to Sandwich Bay  (having visited, plant-spotting, in the morning). We've spent many evenings in the new hide on the scrape, watching ....... but I digress from the main story.......

Driving home at about 9.30 in the twilight, a shape was seen on a post alongside the road. Not an owl this time, but a hobby (Falco subbuteo, but you knew that). It stayed there while cars drove by within a few feet of it, and allowed me to photograph it, only flying off when a cyclist went past.

Curiously, the Ashford Birder saw and photographed a similarly-subdued one today, presuming that it had been hit by a car. Given the windy and cold weather, I'd suggest that they could just be hungry and exhausted.
Anyway, back to the scrape. We've been watching the development of broods of lapwings and oystercatchers, and well as a supporting cast of mallards, coots, little grebes etc.
The oystercatchers always astound me by greeting an approaching parent loudly well in advance of its arrival - good sight or maybe good hearing.

The lapwing family seems to have reduced from four to two, unsurprisingly given the unhelpful behaviour or the parents. For some reason the chicks are persuaded to swim from the island to the bank during the day (for better cover or more food I don't know) and then called back to the island at night, a swim of about 50 yards while avoiding the attentions of aggressive coots. The sight of the parents repeatedly divebombing a dumb-looking pheasant, while a fox approached the chicks from behind, was ridiculous.

In these evening vigils, owls have often been seen, and recently a light-coloured barn owl has patrolled meadows surrounding the scrape, and sat on a fence post to survey the world.

On the subject of chicks, the high winds blew two herring gull chicks off a roof in Deal and I was delegated to defy gravity to put them back up, out of the way of cats. The parents, of course, did not recognise this civic duty and provided a further hazard. The chicks still had their egg-tooth.

And at Rye Harbour, noise and smell announced that the black-headed gull colony is in full production again.


Tony Flashman said...

The Hobby was probably the same one I photographed earlier the same evening. I also managed to get fairly close and a couple of my shots show that the bird has a disease/growth on one of its eyes. This will not be helping keep the bird in the best of health.


tony F.

Kingsdowner said...

Thanks Tony - we saw the hobby again this evening, on a fence post looking poorly.