Hobby vs. ??

I took my usual morning walk down to the farm yesterday, and quietly watched the rabbits and birds from my vantage point at the gate. The previous evening I had crept around the back of the barn and been rewarded with a male Sparrowhawk landing about three metres from me on a pile of blocks stacked by the building. Whitethroats and Garden Warblers have clearly had a successful brood, and I was pleased to see a young Robin hopping among the discarded bales. A Song Thrush and the resident Yellowhammer were also making their appearance known with their songs.

Having watched for ten minutes or so, I started to make my way back when I heard Dunnocks start to toot in alarm which then increased dramatically: a bird of prey?

I headed back to the gate and fleetingly saw a Hobby holding a large bird before it landed in a tree. I could only see the legs of the Hobby and the prey in the gap between the leaves, and the bird it was holding had long raptor legs and a pale underside with faint spots or bars. The tail of the bird was dark with a white spot on the end of each feather, and it had long wings. The shadowy light in the foliage was rather unhelpful despite the relative closeness and my binoculars! The Hobby then took off away from me and I was able to glimpse its moustached face and long pointed wings.

I have seen a Hobby here before but I only clocked it was not a Sparrowhawk or Kestrel or Peregrine by a process of elimination and that process took precious seconds by which time it had flown off, so I wouldn’t say I was confident at ID. The bird I saw yesterday was too petite and finely built for a larger falcon, too grey for a Kestrel, and that millisecond view of its face showed a dark head.

I tried to look for photos of a Kestrel or Sparrowhawk youngster as I presume the flying skills of a Hobby could easily take out a beginner, but all the stock photos were of fluffy chicks rather than fledglings, and of course my view was of the underside which doesn’t tend to make it on to Flickr or Instagram…

I stand to be corrected on any of my assumptions, so if anyone has any clue as to what bird had caught what bird I would be glad to hear it!

I did a quick scratchy sketch of my brief encounter:

On another note, I am using a [nice: Sennelier] square pad of paper for my sketches, and I wish I could use my ‘proper’ sketchbooks for things as I would like a record of all these observations and the gummed edge and the fact my cat likes to chew the corners to get my attention means that it is not easy to keep my drawings. I don’t throw them away but my Nature Notebook sits in my art room, waiting for me to spend some time on it whereas this pad sits on the dining table and I sketch in it all the time – while I’m watching YouTube or DVDs (I don’t have a TV) or listening to a podcast, so I don’t have to make an effort.

Do you have ‘everyday’ and ‘best’ sketchbooks?

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