23rd August 2013
Anyone for Subbuteo? No, not the table soccer game, but Falco subbuteo, the Hobby. I was aware that a pair of Hobbys had bred next to Galley Hill at The Lodge at Sandy and that on the 20th August one young bird had left the nest with one remaining in the nest. Therefore, on the next best day from a photographic point of view ie clam, dry and sunny, I headed back to the site in the expectation that the other bird will have by now also left the nest and that both birds would still be nearby waiting for the adults to bring food.
I headed off down the trail by the new heath which takes you west of the Meadow Hide and down to the bottom of the gulley. Along this path is a great deal of bracken and there were a number of Common Darters using it as a perch in the sunshine. This insect with the straw-coloured abdomen is a female, and it was good to know that there was plenty of food around for the Hobbys as dragonflies are their staple diet.
As I rounded the corner and started the last long haul up the hill to the top I could hear the familiar cronking of a Raven. Sure enough a pair flew in over my head and started to spar with one of the adult Hobbys around a stand of Scots Pine. Life is never dull.
So where were the two young Hobbys? At first it was very quiet but soon the silence was to be broken when an adult flew in with food causing the two young birds to reveal themselves by a chorus of "kee-kee-kee, I want food" Basically, rather than flying and learning to hunt, the young birds prefer to sit around and wait for the adults to bring food to them. This is a tactic that it very good for them, but also useful to photographers like myself as you know where the action is going to be.
But with little else to do while waiting for the food to arrive, they might as well do a bit of wing-stretching and, when full of dragonflies, have a quick nap which involves balancing precariously along a branch.
But eventually my patience was paid off, as when the next delivery arrived I was in position with the sun behind me to capture the transfer of a dragonfly from the adult bird on the left to the youngster on the right. Magical!!
And was it the Common Darter I passed along the path?. Well no, definitely not, because if you the enlarge the first photo you can see that the dragonfly has blue segments along its abdomen so a Migrant or Southern Hawker.
For better reproduction of my photos, see my photo gallery at flickr.com/photos/seymourbirdies