Thursday, 28 May 2009

Butterfly Butchers

This morning was a real treat. After a phone call from Jack and Phil I went along to Bockhill to watch a group of Hobbies feeding over the "big" field.

Hobbies feeding in Kent is no long the unusual sight that it was only 25 years ago. We've now got used to numbers in their twenties, thirties and even more being seen in late May in the Stour Valley. What was unusual was the prey.
Hobbies are a magnificent sight as the fly at speed, but they also have the ability to slow down and catch slow moving insects.
In this case they were catching Painted Ladies as they came in over the cliffs and across the field to head inland. I found photographing these dark falcons against the bright sky, into the sun difficult, but occasionally you could see one stalling in the air as it snacked on one of these unfortunate butterflies.
As I got to the Freedown one was resting on the fence some distance away, but it didn't stay there long before it was off on the butterfly hunt again. I wonder what the calorific value of a Painted Lady is and how many a Hobby has to catch to make the effort of flying after them worthwhile.

When I caught up with Jack and Phil they were watching a female Red-backed Shrike in the Freedown.
Once it went and sat on the fence, and attracted the attention of a local pair of Meadow Pipits that were carrying food for their young and were not at all pleased to see the "butcher-bird".

When it was feeding n the Freedown it was dropping off one of the small Hawthorns and catching prey on or near the ground. I didn't manage to see what it was catching but I suspect the it was sharing in the feast being enjoyed by the Hobbies.

1 comment:

Adam said...

Hi Tony

Whatr a bonus day - think you did will the photos!