Hobby Hawking

A former boating lake beside the A3 dual-carriageway in Surrey around rush-hour is not the first place you’d go looking for hobbies in the UK. But a pair of these young raptors fledged in the area this summer on land managed by the Surrey Wildlife Trust.

I’ve had good views of hobbies in Dorset before as they pursue their favoured dragonfly food, and whilst it’s reasonably easy to capture them eating their prey mid-flight, snapping the fleeting moment in which they close in and grasp their nimble prey is another matter.

On this particular gloriously warm and sunny September afternoon I sat by the lake shore and waited as a pair of birds arrived from the neighbouring heathland and began one of many bombing runs up and down the lake in front of me.

A handful of shots managed to freeze this aerial ballet between predator and would-be prey for a moment:

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When one of the hobbies paused from the fray in the branches of a pine overlooking the lake it was even joined by a sparrowhawk, which must have been studying its technique with some envy:

Hobby and sparrowhawk

Hobby and female sparrowhawk

To the victor, the spoils:

Hobby with dragonfly prey

Hobby with dragonfly prey

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