Photograpahic Essay: I’ve got a Hobby

Well actually we (EE and I) are monitoring a pair of Hobbys. (Haven’t concluded if it should be Hobbies, or more realistically in this case, Hobbys—but you can see where I’m going with this)

A close cousin to their much more impressive and better documented relative, the Peregrine Falcon, it is easy to spot the similarities once they get into the air.

Speed and manoeuvrability being high on the comparison list.  I’ve had the chance to watch them a couple of days in some high winds, think 70-80kph. They fold back the primaries and run on very closely tucked wings, at speeds that are almost impossible to follow in the viewfinder.  A side-different to working with say, Black-shouldered Kites, that are by comparison, quite sedate.

They have a nest. And it’s high up in one of the tallest gums in the area. Cleverly placed in the multiple “Y” that gums sometimes make with 8-10 thin branches reaching out crownlike, and she has placed her nest securely in the little fortress.

Hard to gather how far advanced they are, but the past couple of days we’ve found her sitting less on the nest, so I’d be guessing her young are beginning to take on their first feathers.

Feeding appears to have its own rules.  He comes in laden with a catch. Sits on a particular branch and calls quietly to her.  After a suitable pause in events he moves to another tree, sits and waits.

Then the express train bursts out of the nest, or from the high-up perch where she has been surveying the scene, snatches the catch and sits on a branch just near him to consume her well earned meal. So far I think the count is mostly Red Wattlebirds, but today it was a Welcome Swallow.

She is head and shoulders bigger than he. Pretty typical among raptors, but really noticeable when they sit close-by.

After helping herself, she then flies directly to the nest and seems to be feeding small pieces from her beak, so another clue the young are not that advanced.

Lastly the thing that has impressed me is the super efficiency of them both. There are no wasted wingflaps, they glide from one tree to another, hardly using any energy.  But, when needed, the wings dig in and they are gone.

Warning: Photos contain some graphic feeding moments.

The female approaching the waiting male
She has several perches that she uses while she waits. Here the flying gear is getting a work out
Arriving for her meal

The food transfer is super efficient and fast
Even though he is sitting a bit forward the size comparison is obvious.
Off to the nest to feed the young
Softly calling with the latest kill
This looks like Welcome Swallow on the menu. She is taking it straight to the nest.
The Werribee River runs behind the nest area and he explodes of the tree, disappears over the edge of the cliff and with about 3 more wing flaps is back on the tree.