Hobbies breed at Panshanger Park

(c) Luke Massey/2020VISION

A pair of hobbies have successfully bred at Panshanger Park

A pair of hobbies has successfully bred at Panshanger Park near Hertford and the chicks are getting ready to leave the nest.

Hobbies are migratory falcons that can only be seen over the summer when they come to southern Britain to breed before returning to sub-Saharan Africa for the winter. Hobbies are smaller than kestrels and feed on dragonflies and damselflies, as well as smaller birds including martins and swallows. They catch their prey mid-air and, with insect prey, feed on the wing.

All three chicks have recently been ringed with lightweight, uniquely numbered, metal rings which are fitted to the birds' legs. Ringing is always done by licenced and highly-trained ringers to ensure that the birds are not harmed in the process. Ringing is a reliable and harmless method of identifying individual birds and is vital in studying bird populations and movements which helps to focus conservation efforts.

Hobby chicks at Panshanger Park

Hobby chicks at Panshanger Park (c) Panshanger Ringers

They are a joy to watch; capable of rapid bursts of speed and breathtaking turns as they hunt
Murray Brown, People and Wildlife Officer

Murray Brown, Panshanger Park People and Wildlife Officer, says: “We’re thrilled to have a family of hobbies at Panshanger. They are a joy to watch; capable of rapid bursts of speed and breathtaking turns as they hunt.

Although the UK population of hobbies is doing well, this is still a scarce breeding species and local birdwatchers are excited about the new arrivals. We’re holding special Hobby Watch evenings so that members of the public can come to the park and be shown these dapper and exciting raptors through a telescope, learning more about them and the protection that they require. The birds will only be around the nest site for around another week so it is well worth a visit over the next few days”.

Panshanger Park is owned by Tarmac and was formerly a sand and gravel quarry which is now in the final phases of being restored to a country park. Tarmac are working in partnership with Herts and Middlesex Wildlife Trust to manage the park for both people and wildlife and the breeding hobbies are testament to the habitat restoration work that is being carried out here.