Welcome to the News section of the iNSiGHT Ornithology website (
www.simoncherriman.com). This blog contains updates about various things I've been up to, interesting environmental issues and observations I make regularly while going about my day. It is designed to be fun AND educational, and inspire you about our wonderful natural world. Happy reading!

Saturday, 15 December 2012

A Nice Hobby


These two beautiful chicks belong to an Australian Hobby, one of the many birds of prey we've seen out in the Murchison region this week. A good friend and I are currently conducting some fieldwork at Lorna Glen Conservation Reserve, about 150km north-east of Wiluna, as part of a long-term research project I'm conducting on Wedge-tailed Eagles (click here for more info). These swift raptors have taken advantage of an abundance of Budgerigars which have arrived after recent rains. Hobbies are one of the smallest falcons in Australia, and are incredibly fast flyers, flapping up against the breeze then zooming back with the wind behind them like a bullet. We observed a pair hunting a few evenings ago and were in awe of their speed!

Like all other falcons, hobbies are incapable of building their own nests - this pair took up residence in an old crow's nest high above the surrounding plains in a River Redgum. The female would have laid 2-3 eggs about 2 months ago, nestling down to incubate in the deep cup in the middle of this stick structure. Obviously the hobbies' prime food, which consists mostly of small birds like budgies, honeyeaters and swallows, has been in good supply and the chicks have grown rapidly. Mick and I discovered the nest this afternoon, and I climbed up to have a closer look. As you can see, the hobby chicks have had a very nice view of the creekline in which their nest tree is situated, and the surrounding landscape:




I managed to reach the nest and get some closer shots of the gorgeous chicks. They are about a month old and very close to being able to fly.




After snapping these shots I was keen to see if I could get any footage of parents coming back to feed the chicks (which wouldn't happen very frequently with the chicks being so large), so I mounted my mini High Def camera to a branch overlooking the nest. The battery lasted 2 hours, and I returned just on sunset to collect the camera. Our excitement was short-lived as even though the chicks appeared to quickly accept the camera, the parents didn't as they didn't return (or perhaps they'd had no luck with hunting anything to bring back!). It is important to note that while this may seem disturbing, the chicks were fine when we saw them the next day, and at such a late stage of development the parent birds wouldn't abandon them. It was worth a shot - and I still captured some behaviour of the chicks anxiously looking around, preening, and enjoying the afternoon light in this gorgeous environment.
 

Hobbies from Simon Cherriman on Vimeo.

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