Tim Melling – Hobby

Tim writes: Hobbies are quite thin on the ground where I live in the Yorkshire Pennines so I was pleased when I came across this juvenile Hobby locally.    Hobby is a falcon, one of four species that breed in Britain, the others being Kestrel, Merlin and Peregrine.  But all others are resident, with Hobby being the only summer visitor.  It specialises in catching dragonflies and swallows, neither of which are around in Britain in the winter, so it migrates to Africa outside the breeding season.  I saw two adults and this juvenile, all hawking dragonflies as most of the swallows had departed.  I say “hawking” but recent DNA evidence has shown that falcons are not closely related to eagles, hawks and buzzards.  Their closest relatives are parrots, but have convergently evolved similar claws and hooked beaks.  Although parrots have not dissimilar claws and beaks.

And another thing. Its scientific name is Falco subbuteo, the latter meaning less than a Buzzard (Buteo buteo), but Aristotle used a Greek version (hupotriorkhes) to describe an unknown bird of prey.  And incidentally, the table football game was named Subbuteo by its inventor Peter Adolph after he was refused a trademark to call the game “Hobby”, so he used the scientific name of Hobby instead.

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2 Replies to “Tim Melling – Hobby”

  1. I monitor breeding Hobby in the Summer months, their aerial skills are incredible and their speed hard to comprehend, watching them hunt bats is a special but rare treat , awesome birds.

    1. I had the pleasure of watching a Hobby earlier this week at Scorton Quarry, North Yorkshire ‘hawking’ the still quite numerous Darters in the lee of a woodland. Stunning, agile birds and a treat to see, my pictures weren’t great!


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