The elegant hobby in all it's glory

The elegant hobby in all it's glory


Posted 18th May 2018


Late spring will see another one of the many migrants returning from their winter spent in warmer climes - in this case, the elegant hobby

A sleek little falcon, the hobby is dark, slate-grey above, a bold black moustache, white cheeks, streaky underparts and a surprising pair of gingery red 'pyjamas'. After flying all the back from sub-Saharan Africa, this true master of the air will only have one thing on his mind - food. For a hobby, there are few things that will be tastier to snack on than a damselfly.

A large number of damselflies and dragonflies will emerge from gravel pits, lakes and reedbeds towards the end of spring, and these are the ideal portion for a hobby. With aerodynamic, swept-back wings and a narrow tail, the hobby has the speed and manoeuvrability to not only let him chase and catch his prey, but to reach out and snatch it from the sky almost as an afterthought, but also to eat it on the wing - it's a true master at work.

How to do it

Springtime in a wetland is an exciting time. There will be cuckoos calling, the terns will flick over the open water, maybe a little egret hunting quietly in the shallows, or the 'plop' of a water vole in the nearby ditch. Be sure to bring a pair of binoculars and a packed lunch to make a day of it. For the hobbies, things won't get going until later on in the day - by then, it will have warmed up enough for the dragonflies and damselflies to have taken to the wing.

Special spots

The largest concentrations of hobbies can be found over extensive reedbeds in southern England, while there are few places better than Somerset Wildlife Trust's Westhay Moor NNR, where counts of 20 or more are not uncommon.

Hertfordshire, Tring Reservoirs

Essex, Fingringhoe Wick

Rutland, Rutland Water Egleton Reserve, 

Cambridgeshire, The Great Fen

Yorkshire, Wheldrake Ings

Suffolk, Hen Reedbeds

Derbyshire, Willington Gravel Pits

Surrey, Barossa and Poors Allotments

Norfolk, Upton Broad and Marshes

Text and information courtesy of The Wildlife Trusts / image courtesy of © Andy Morffew





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