Thursday, 16 October 2008

Holkham - My favourite Hobby

Birding perhaps? Bird photography?? Well today combined the best of both these worlds and sorry I am going to wax so lyrical about events!!

It all started with a casual walk through Holkham pines, I was hoping for a YBW or similar interest? There were certainly a few Tit flocks on the move and plenty of Goldcrest.

I bumped into a fellow birder, face beaming - "great view of a Hobby back there" he said. I established 'where' and carried on, a little more purposefully now....

I reached the spot - referred to locally as the 'crossroads'. No Hobby; or so I thought, then suddenly I had to duck as one shot towards me - effortlessly plucking a dragonfly off a nearby plant and then proceeding to eat it over my head. How cool is that! This is one situation where the 'big lens' is not ideal - until the Hobby, obviously a juvenile, landed in the dead branches of a nearby small tree!

Not believing my luck (it was less than 30m away) I took one or two - well maybe several bursts until it flew again....

Occasionally settling on the nearby pines.....

or a nearby Hawthorn bush was favoured to the the dead branches.

If only I'd got the shorter lens with me? Mind you, a Hobby speeding about at close range is a challenge for any kind of kit....

I've had a few great birding moments this year but this was right up there with anything I've ever experienced!! Hobbies normally do this thing miles away and then disappear. This one treated me to well over an hour of close range pure 'joy', it was awesome!

Got to keep those talons clean!!

Eventually as the temperatures rose, so did the dragonflies and then also the Hobby. It cruised above, eventually hunting much wider afield.

I decided to crack on and see if the Great-grey Shrike was still present in the dunes? This was another mile or two to walk and despite spending an hour or so in the dunes, I only picked up Stonechat and Meadow Pipit!

A close encounter with a Northern Wheatear on the way back, got the camera back out in use. The light was perfect - this was turning out to be a good day!!

Could it get any better - yes! Returning along the track and in the same area as the Hobby, there had been several sightings of a Rough-legged Buzzard. I was in the copse near Joe Jordan hide when a really pale Buzzard glided overhead, virtually skimming the Pines - very pale almost unmarked underwing and I had a really clear view of that creamy white tail, the terminal band wasn't obvious either, a juvenile? No doubt at all, Rough-legged Buzzard on my list! Not a chance of pictures, it headed over towards the sea.....

I headed back to the car, I'd walked about eight miles with pretty heavy kit and I know just how this little guy felt!!

Wonder if it will still be there tomorrow?