Thursday, May 12, 2011

May 12: Red-footed Falcon and Hobby

     I'm beginning to think that the Zeljeznica River where it empties into the plain near Sarajevo (Butmir), is a flyway of sorts for Red-footed Falcon (Falco vespertinus) and perhaps Hobby (Falco subbuteo) too. As on May 6, when I watched a group of Red-foots hunt overhead for more than 45 minutes, the weather today was sunny and mild with a gentle NW wind (15 kph). The first group I spotted was at least 13 individuals - similarity of behavior and shape suggested they were all Red-footed. Despite their height above me, I did definitively pick out two males with the silvery primaries. Most of that group seemed to move on and perhaps three or four stayed overhead, or so I thought. Suddenly, more birds appeared. For the next hour, there was a steady trickle of birds. It was difficult to count which birds were repeats, if any, as the falcons were actively hunting and soaring at the same time. For the most part, birds appeared in groups of 4-6.
     Two Eurasian Hobbies (Falco subbuteo) also moved through, and there were a small number of the migrants among the high-flying Red-foots that I suspect may have been Hobby. These two, a pair presumably, came in much lower - one snagged an aerial insect - before working their way higher and down river.
     One Little Egret (Egretta garzatta), a Gray Heron (Ardea cinerea), two Little Ringed Plovers (Charadrius dubius) a singing Great Reed Warbler (Acrocephalus arundinaceus) and a displaying Sky Lark (Alauda arvensis) highlighted an otherwise predictable list.

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