The Hobby

Falco Subbuteo is the scientific name, a most agile and acrobatic bird of prey if ever there was. 

With a diet of insects and small birds like swallows and martins, often catch in its talons they will transfer to its beak in flight.  The dragon fly is a particular favourite of the Hobby. Known for rapid acceleration and capable of high speed manoeuvres they are the 'Spitfire' of the skies. 

A migratory bird that arrives in the UK around March having flown in from Africa. it spends most of its time in the southern parts of the UK but is now found expanding into the north, east and west of the country.  The population is estimated to be around 2000 pairs and the reason behind the success of this bird is speculative but though to be due to an increase in its dragonfly prey, found around reservoirs and claypits.   

On of the best times to spot the hobby is on a warm summers day on the hunt, over farmland, woodlands for skimming the waters of a lake.  Come September the Hobby will fly back towards Africa with the last of the birds leaving towards the end of October.

Hobbies do not build their nest but will use the stick nests of other species, with the crows nest being a favourite. They are a late breeding bird and lay their eggs at late as June, a small clutch of 2-3 eggs.  Incubation lasts for 28-31 days and is carried out almost entirely by the female.  Once hatched the young remain in the nest for a further 28-34 days and become independent 30-40 days after fledging.

A similar size to the Kestrel, but with a long wing span ending into a pointed tip.  In colour the Hobby has a dark hood and white cheek patch, slate grey on the top and a paler shade of grey below with black streaks.  One of the only birds of prey in Britain to have a rusty red colour around the thighs which spreads towards the tail feathers.  This red patch is often referred to a 'trousers' 

Finally a little piece of trivia.

The football game 'Subbuteo' is based on the Latin name for the Hobby because it was the designer's favourite bird.  In English, Subbuteo means 'smaller than buzzard'