British wildlife recordings
Falco subbuteo : Hobby - Falconidae
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Bagshot, Surrey: OS Grid Reference(491500,163500)
Williams, Aubrey John
Hobby, Falco subbuteo
A call uttered by a hobby recorded at Bagshot, Surrey. The hobby is surely one of the most dashing summer visitors to Britain. It is similar in size to the more familiar kestrel but has long and rakish swept-back wings, giving the impression of a giant swift. In Britain, the hobby often breeds in old crow-nests in the trees on the periphery of heathland, farmland, or woodland in southern Britain, but chooses to hunt over open countryside and water. When they first arrive in late April and early May, it is not uncommon to see 20 or even 30 hobbies on the south coast refuelling after a long flight from their wintering quarters. It is a renowned aerial predator and will take anything from small birds, such as meadow pipits and swallows, to dragonflies and large beetles. Courtship takes place in May and June as the birds proclaim their territory with dramatic soaring and diving displays, this being one of the few times that the shrill call is heard. The hobby stays here for no longer than 5 months of the year and the remainder is spent in sub-Saharan Africa. Only 500-900 pairs currently breed in Britain, but their number has increased and their range expanded recently, despite continued problems with egg-collectors and a long history of persecution.