Despite the dramatic fire that hit Upton Heath this year, conservationists are celebrating as a pair of hobbies has managed to raise 3 chicks. The birds, which first nested in 2010 in an artificial ‘hobby basket’ placed by Dorset Wildlife Trust, returned this year in May and survived the fire, which missed their nest site.
Hobbies are small and extremely agile falcons, about the size of a kestrel, which can catch food, including dragonflies and even swallows and martins, on the wing. Heaths such as Upton Heath, which has recently been named one of the top sites in the country for dragonflies, are particularly attractive to them, providing plenty of food through the summer and into early autumn for this late-nesting falcon.
Resilience in the face of damage
Andy Fale, Dorset Wildlife Trust’s Upton Heath Warden, said: “We are very pleased that the hobbies have come back and shown such resilience in the face of the damage to part of the heath in June. The fact that they have successfully reared 3 chicks shows that Upton Heath still has good numbers of dragonflies and other insects on its many pools and boggy areas.”
DWT has been helped by Jason Fathers of Wildlife Windows in this project to encourage hobby breeding on the reserve. This year the hobbies decided not to use the basket but used an old crow’s nest in a nearby tree. The chicks hatched in the middle of July and have been ringed to help with future monitoring. They should stay in the area with their parents until the second half of September or even into October, before migrating to southern Africa for the winter. Warm evenings are the best time to look for them as they hunt. Resembling a large swift, with scythe-shaped wings, the adults are dark blue/grey with peregrine-like moustache markings and a spectacularly agile flight.
Upton Heath is open at all times. For more details, visit Upton Heath Nature Reserve or ring the Urban Wildlife Centre on 01202 692033.
Notes to Editor
For more information please contact Andy Fale at Dorset Wildlife Trust on 01202 642784..
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About Dorset Wildlife Trust www.dorsetwildlifetrust.org.uk
Jason Fathers, Wildlife Windows Ltd. http://www.wildlifewindows.co.uk Tel: 01202 887569 Mb: 07971 094459
Working for a secure future for Dorset’s wildlife enriching the quality of life
Dorset Wildlife Trust works to champion wildlife and natural places, to engage and inspire people and to promote sustainable living. Founded in 1961, DWT is now the largest voluntary nature conservation organisation in Dorset, with over 25,000 members and over 40 nature reserves. Most are open daily and there are visitor centres providing a wealth of wildlife information at Brooklands Farm, Lorton Meadows, Kingcombe Meadows and Brownsea Island Nature Reserves, The Purbeck Marine Wildlife Reserve and the Urban Wildlife Centre at Upton Heath Nature Reserve. DWT plays a key role in dealing with local environmental issues and leads the way in establishing the practices of sustainable development and engaging new audiences in conservation, particularly in the urban areas.
Hobby chicks by Nigel Brooks