Eurasian Hobby

Towards the end of the 2007 to 2008 Barn Swallow season we had a couple of nets up in our garden in Umzumbe KZN South Coast in the hope of catching a few Swallows before their migration north. I must say that we live on the top of a hill 187m asl in the direct flight path of the swallows coming to the roost site on the Umzumbe River, this roosts in excess of 1 million birds and we suspect that it is used by swallows from further south during their migration, as is Mt. Moreland roost north of Durban.

    The swallows started flying over the house towards the nets, saw the nets and flew over or around them much to our disgust, however I witnessed one swallow fly straight towards the middle of the net and at the last minute turn and miss the net by millimeters, however the bird chasing it with swept back wings wasn’t so lucky and it hit the net and was caught. I immediately jumped off the patio and ran towards the net expecting to see one of the resident Lanners in the net. Not to be as it was dramatically smaller with a black crown not rufous, Peregrine was discounted for size when I got close enough, then it was out with the books to confirm that what we had was a Eurasian Hobby.

 

    Personally it was worth more than catching 20 Barn Swallows to see this magnificent little raptor in the hand. It was a first sighting of the bird for both my father and myself, we have since seen a pair of them flying around even having a little scrap with the Lanner. We hope to find them returning next summer and hopefully catch the other one as well as confirming if the ringed one has returned. I have subsequently found out that according to Safrings computerized records this is now the third one ringed in Southern Africa, making the catch that much more special, as I am sure most people would feel the same.

 

    The Eurasian Hobby is seen on a regular basis at the Roost sites on the Kwa Zulu Natal South Coast where it often takes a swallow or two for supper. This little raptor probably accounts for more fatalities of the Barn Swallow than any other Raptor due to its habit of migrating with its food source. Consequently it is able to catch and eat Barn Swallows throughout the year.