This beautiful little falcon has got to be my favourite raptor. It is not only impressive in looks but excels in deeds too. When considering the Hobby I can’t help thinking of the line,” I’m a dandy highwayman,” from the 1981 song Stand and Deliver, by Adam and the Ants, for there is something of the dandy about the Hobby with its red coloured shanks and under tail (hinted at in my illustration) and magnificent highwayman/Zorro like face mask.
In the air it exhausts superlatives. Although not as fast as the Peregrine in its stoop it has been said it can out fly it on the flat: one authority stating that it can get up to speeds of 100 mph. It’s main prey are dragonflies which it takes on the wing but it is also capable of taken Swifts, Swallows and Martins engaging in fantastically fast and acrobatic aerial dogfights as it chases its mark through the sky.
Smaller than the Peregrine at around 33 cms it is often observed near water; rivers, ponds, quarries etc. They can be seen at Wicken Fen here in Cambridgeshire. They are migrant visitors and I can’t wait until April/May time when they begin to arrive from their wintering hunting grounds in Africa for the summer.
One last fact about the Hobby. The inventor of Subbuteo (table top football popular in the 60’s, 70’s & 80’s) Peter Adolf named the game after the Hobby’s Latin name, ‘Falco Subbuteo ‘. It was apparently his favourite bird too.