|Flight identification of the Hobby|
Hobby (Falco subbuteo)
Length 29 - 32cm Wing span 74 - 84cm
Roughly the size of a Kestrel Falco tinnunculus, the hobby can usually be found hunting above it's prefered habitat of wetlands and heath where it will actively pursue it's favoured diet of dragonflies,catching them on the wing and consuming them in flight (pics 1,2,3 & 4 right).Pictures courtesy of Mark Putney.
It also favoures areas which attract large numbers of hirrundines (swallows, martins and swifts) and will pursue this prey sometimes high above the ground or after a high speed determined low level chase.The photograph above www.johnlamper.co.uk shows the typical, and 'out of the blue' low level dashing flight of a hunting hobby, and it's preference for open ground.
Unlike the kestrel, the hobby does not 'hover' whilst hunting and can often be seen high in the air soaring for long periods where they often gives the immediate impression of a large swift due to it's characteristic and often described 'scythe-like wings' which become obvious as the bird dives (beautifully captured in photograph 5 John Lamper).Flies with powerful, 'stiff' wing beats.Other confusion species are peregrine (which are larger and 'more chunky' in appearance, with a heavier body and broader wings). and red-footed falcon Falco vespertinus, which will be covered at a later date.A closer view will reveal the characteristic and distinctive head pattern with thin black 'moustache', heavy black streaks to the underbody and rusty red vent,undertail and 'trousers'.