We have a new visitor to the farm. About a month ago I became aware of a different sound in the air. Not listening properly, at first I thought it was the ‘yaffle’ of a green woodpecker, not a common bird around these parts; we’re more likely to be home to the great spotted woodpecker and occasionally, very occasionally the rare lesser spotted woodpecker. So, when I heard the call, I thought ‘oh, that’s nice’ and got on with whatever it was I was doing. But it was persistent, and, when I came to listen properly, quite different – ‘klee…kleekleekleekleeee’ – it called.

the hobby - falco subbuteo

the hobby - falco subbuteo

At the weekend, when Robert was home, I asked him to listen out for my new bird and see if he could identify it and what it was doing. It wasn’t long before he excitedly called me outside “It’s a hobby, flying backwards and forwards to raven’s copse.”

During the summer we occasionally get a hobby flying high, high over the farm chasing swallows or martins to feed its fast growing young. But we’d never had one persistently around.

“Do you know what” said Robert “I think it’s nesting in ravens’ copse.”

“No, really? Do you think so? How exciting!”

Ravens’ copse is a small area of woodland butting onto sections of Dillings, Rushy and Five Acres. It has tall mature Scots pines and, as the name suggests, has been the home to nesting ravens since time immemorial.
“A bit dicey, don’t you think, nesting so close to the ravens? Or could it be a bit like the time there were stock doves nesting directly in front of a tawny owl in the owl box up in silage barn? You know…so up close and personal you’re kind of protected?”

“Could be” said Robert “but the ravens fledged long ago”

“I know, but they still live there, that’s their roost.”

I decided to do a bit of research, and yes, hobbys do like to nest in old crows nests, often in fir trees, and yes, the young are frequently lost to crows nesting in the area. So ravens? Umm, I think I’ll keep my fingers very crossed there.

They, the hobbys, are most active first thing in the mornings when I’m checking the stock and it’s wonderful to see them sweeping out over Marymead looking for food for their ravenous young. The other morning I witnessed a full-on dog fight between hobby and raven high in the tops of the scots pine across from Dillings. The aerobatics, speed and dexterity of the hobby’s movement and flight was extraordinary and exhilarating to watch.

They won that time as the next morning the now familiar ‘klee…kleekleekleekleekleee’ rang out over the farm as they went in search of breakfast.

the hobby - flying high above the farm

the hobby - flying high above the farm