Introduction

Wild Time

Spring

Feel the beat of spring

Be dazzled by bluebells

Harken to a bittern's boom

Seek a swooping sand martin

Pen poetry among daffodils

Sway with dancing grebes

Get sent packing by a grouse

Take a ringside seat

Track down a tiger

Watch a rare sky dance

Chatter with a natterjack

Enjoy the great rush north

Look up in awe

Shine a light on newts

Eavesdrop on a nightingale

Go spotting early orchids

Follow a sat-tagged osprey

Gape at hunting hobbies

Nurse a passion for purple

Scour riverbanks for Ratty

Tip-toe among fritillaries

 

Summer

Hail the success of avocets

Go batty as night falls

Bewitched by a buttercup

Play the summertime blues

Thrill to damsels and dragonflies

Go after Dartford warbler

Make a splash with gannets

Stake out a badger sett

Hurrah for the king

Rejoice in Manxie's chorus

Delight in a glow worm

Fall for THE fastest bird

Be spellbound by orchids

Journey to a seabird city

Exalt at a skylark's song

Party with the puffins

Lounge with a lizard

Haunt a churring nightjar

Head seawards on safari

Discover the rare spoonbill

Join the toadlet exodus

Spot our largest butterfly

Wear a hat for terns

Hunt woodland beauties

 

Autumn

Admire our eager beavers

Marvel at migration

Forage for Autumn's bounty

Go nuts over squirrel nutkin

Ramble through purple

Gaze in awe at reds' rut

Wander in the wild wood

Cheer on the salmon run

Try a wild goose chase

Foray for fungi

 

Winter

Pay homage to the Russians

Go on a winter ghost hunt

Wonder at wintering waders

Fall in love with a seal pup

Hear Britain's tallest bird

Revel in roosting wagtails

Kiss beneath mistletoe

'Ooh' & 'aah' at murmurations

Lie in wait for an otter

Rock 'n' roll with geology

Wrap up for a raptor roost

Gape at hunting hobbies

Hobby © Jon Hawkins

Look skyward over reedbeds and wetlands where this handsome falcon gorges on dragonflies.

Springtime in a wetland is an exciting time. Bring a pair of binoculars and a packed lunch, and make a day of it

Amongst the many migrants returning from their winter in warmer climes, the late spring sees the return of the elegant hobby to our skies.  A sleek little falcon, the hobby is dark, slate-grey above, with a bold black moustache, white cheeks, streaky underparts and a surprising pair of gingery red ‘pyjamas’. Having flown all the way back from sub-Saharan Africa, this master of the air has one thing on his mind - food!  And for a hobby, there are few more tasty snacks than a damselfly.

The end of spring sees the emergence of large numbers of damselflies and dragonflies from gravel pits, lakes and reedbeds, and these are the perfect portion size for a hobby.  With aerodynamic, swept-back wings and a narrow tail, the hobby has both speed and manoeuvrability, enabling him to not only chase and catch his prey, sometimes reaching out and snatching a damselfly from the sky almost as an afterthought, but also to eat it on the wing.

A master at work.

How to do it

Springtime in a wetland is an exciting time.  There will be cuckoos calling, terns flicking over the open water, maybe a little egret hunting quietly in the shallows, or the ‘plop’ of a water vole in the nearby ditch. Bring a pair of binoculars and a packed lunch, and make a day of it.  For the hobbies, things won’t get going until later in the day: things need to have warmed up enough for the dragonflies and damselflies, the hobby’s main food, to have taken to the wing.  

If you can’t get to the special places listed below… To find out more about our most elegant of falcons, you could do worse than reading “The Hobby” by Anthony Chapman.

Special spots

The largest concentrations of hobbies can be found over extensive reedbeds in southern England, and there are few places better than Somerset Wildlife Trust’s Westhay Moor NNR where counts of 20 or more are certainly not uncommon.

Hertfordshire, Tring Reservoirs

Essex, Fingringhoe Wick

Rutland, Rutland Water Egleton Reserve, 

Cambridgeshire, The Great Fen

Yorkshire, Wheldrake Ings

Suffolk, Hen Reedbeds

Derbyshire, Willington Gravel Pits

Surrey, Barossa and Poors Allotments

Norfolk, Upton Broad and Marshes

Hobby with dragonfly © Andy Morffew