An encounter with an Australian Hobby

A few days ago I was visiting our local Post Office near the centre of the Murray Bridge CBD.  I was there to post a few Christmas letters.

As I parked the car I was aware of the call of a bird of prey somewhere nearby.

Within seconds I had no less than three Australian Hobbies soaring around overhead. The Australian Hobby is also known as the Little Falcon.  One flew off while the other two perched on power lines nearby, one only about forty metres away. I quickly whipped out my binoculars for a better look. Sadly I didn’t have my camera with me.

I’ve observed these birds on many occasions in and near the CBD of our town. One day I need to take the camera with me and track them down until I manage a good photo or two.  As I watched two of the birds appeared to be begging for food, which indicates they could be juveniles. As I watched one soaring near the railway station and House Sparrow flew past and the Hobby took off after it at speed. Its acceleration was amazing, but its tactical flying skills still need some refinement as it missed its prey.

It was great to see such magnificent hunters right in the middle of the city.

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Brown Falcon at Monarto Zoo

Brown Falcon, Monarto Zoo

Brown Falcon, Monarto Zoo

A few weeks ago we went with our family to visit Monarto Zoo near our home town of Murray Bridge. This open range zoo is a part of the Adelaide Zoological Gardens and being only a few kilometres down the road from our home we like to visit often. Being a Life Member I like to visit often.

One of the features of the zoo is the large tract of untouched mallee scrub where visitors can walk on the numerous walking trails leading from one enclosure to another. The regular shuttle buses moving around the zoo make this a very attractive part of the visit. All tracks are easily negotiated, even by wheelchair.

Walking through the mallee scrub is a good way to observe many of the local bird species abundant in the area. On this visit I had great views of this Brown Falcon. Normally a reasonable shy bird, this individual decided to pose nicely for a few photos.

Brown Falcon, Monarto Zoo

Brown Falcon, Monarto Zoo

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Nature in the raw

On our daily early morning walks I usually take a keen interest in the birds seen and heard. Normally I see or hear only the most common birds around this area. On Friday, however, I was delighted to observe an Australian Hobby (also called  Little Falcon) sitting on a dead branch atop a mallee tree on the side of the road we were walking on. It stayed sitting there watching us as we passed by, giving us very good views of its markings.

This morning the same bird (I presume) was sitting on the same branch. As we approached it zoomed off low through the roadside trees and began pursuing a Common Starling. I lost sight of the chase as they headed towards a nearby scrub. I hope that the falcon caught his breakfast. Common Starlings are an introduced feral bird here in Australia. They are also a pest species, taking food and nesting sites from our native species. Most people do not like them as they do great damage to fruit crops.

The Australian Hobby is widespread but not all that common in this area. It is therefore always good to see this magnificent species.