Nothing like a little Hobby to pass the time

We decided on an early trip to the Western Treatment Plant. I don’t like the early morning light as you’re driving into it and so all pics are backlit. But, the weather man promised doom and gloom for the pm,(and for once he was right), so we took our chances.

Mr An Onymous and I had spotted an Australian Hobby up on the road to Ryan’s swamp, so I was all prepared to give it another looksee when we noticed Two Hobbys (Is the plural Hobbies?) on the trees near the pump house.  So we stuck around, but the light was against us, and also the distance to the trees. But we thought it a good start to the day.

As we went past the tree line near 65W Road, a Hobby was sitting surveying the ponds.  From this tree, I suspect it can see most of the Treatment plant as its amongst the tallest trees in the area. So another quick photo session we moved on.

Just where the road doglegs around Ponds 35E, Dorothy spotted a young Black-shouldered Kite, and she set out to make some pictures.

We’ve worked out its not much good two people harassing a single perched bird, so I stayed with the car, and as there was bush full of active Fairy Wrens I thought I’d was a bit of time following their activities. After about 5 minutes, they went quiet. Really quiet and disappeared. So did every other small bird. Before I had a chance to work it out, out of the corner of my eye, a grey arrow of wings and a “Thud” on my left. Turning about, I found a Hobby sitting on a branch about 2 metres up and about 2 metres from me. In one talon a hapless sparrow, that only a few seconds before had been amusing me with its antics with its friends.

It had obviously planned the attack to end in that tree, but hadn’t been able to calculate my presence.  Startled it glared (can bird glare?) pondered its opportunities and took off.  Of course all this happened against the light, so any hope of those prizewinning shots was dissolved. But I got a few action pics to make up  for it.

More info: from Flickr

The Hobby had landed in a tree about 2 metres from me. Because the trees around and above were a canopy, there was no way out for it. The trees on the left and above meant it couldn’t fly out and up. and the 3metre bushes on the right (where it had snagged the sparrow), were another barrier. So. Its only way was out past me. It choose to leap and go low to get speed. Hence this shot. Once past me, it circled around and gained height over the trees. Then flew of to feed its young one.
Mind it was all over before I had a chance to think about it.

I think this was an adult bird as it flew 50 metres and met a younger bird with much screeching and it took the sparrow for another trip up and down the roadway before landing in a suitable tree to consume its breakfast.  I ambled around to get the best light, and as I did the Hobby was accosted by a Willie Wagtail. Now most times Willies throw themselves into the act of removing unwanted visitors with abandon. Falcons, Kites, Ravens and Harriers are all the same to this little agitated bird. But not this Willie, and not this Hobby.  It was very careful about its every attack. Staying quite a few metres out of range and running quick scolding attacks, but not getting anywhere near the Hobby. Very smart Willie. Given the young bird was holding a sparrow, it wouldn’t have taken much to add a wagtail to the morning’s feast.  In the end discretion did not become the better part of valour and the Wagtail sprang on to the Hobby’s back, to be repulsed by a wing wag.  In the end, the Wagtail went off to find something else to do.(Most unusual as they most often win).The Hobby settled down to removing the feathers from the meal.
They flew in all directions in the breeze, but a lot of them ended up in a spider’s web in the same branch. Sort of formed a curtain for its activities.

By now I was settling in for some good shots, when a car came along the road.  All to much for the Hobby and it was airborne. Too far to follow in the long grass. WTP being renowned  for its slithery creatures.

I went over to the car driver and explained that she had scared off my subject. She replied, “Well the Black-shouldered Kite was gone, and I came to see what you were doing!”

Then to top it off on the way back a White-bellied Sea-eagle on a fence post on the 85W lagoon road made for a good conclusion.

Australian Hobby surveying breakfast options
Australian Hobby surveying breakfast options
Hobby with sparrow breakfast making a break out of the treeline
Hobby with sparrow breakfast making a break out of the treeline
The hapless sparrow is being held by the neck.
The hapless sparrow is being held by the neck.
Juvenile with sparrow, being carefully harassed by a Willie Wagtail
Juvenile with sparrow, being carefully harassed by a Willie Wagtail
Feathers fly as the Hobby gets down to business. The feathers are stuck on a Spider Web
Feathers fly as the Hobby gets down to business. The feathers are stuck on a Spider Web
I can only imagine how good this might have been had the light be better.
I can only imagine how good this might have been had the light be better.
White-bellied Sea-eagle over the bridge near 85W pond.
White-bellied Sea-eagle over the bridge near 85W pond.
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3 thoughts on “Nothing like a little Hobby to pass the time

  1. Hi David, I really enjoy reading your ‘reports’ and this is also a very good story with the accompanying shots. It happens so often that we go for great photos and we get great actions instead. I agree that morning light can be a bit of the problem there and before you get to the right place it’s not really the golden hour any more… at least for me coming all the way from the Bayside subs.
    I am about to post a photo on flickr and I wonder if you could have a look and confirm if those raptors are Wedge-tailed eagles. Seems rather strange but I am not so sure looking at the shots.
    Have a great weekend!
    Adam

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    1. Hi Adam,
      I like the quality of the light in the morning, but as you say, its a matter of getting all the way to the eastern end of the site then making the slow journey back. We do it better in winter! Later starts and the sun is further round to the north, so not such a big problem.
      Its always the same though. Yes! We’ll drive right through>.. Oh stop, look at that. Look over there! …. By the time we turn round its mid morning.

      I can appreciate the extra drive. By the time you’ve arrived the fun has gone out of birding. I’d go to places like Newstead, but find myself driving past really good birding spots to get to a good birding spot. Ohhh.

      Like

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