I have monitored Hobby breeding on the South Levels since 1980. Then there was just one pair in the study area, in 2014 that had increased to 4 or possibly 5 successful breeding pairs reflecting the UK wide expansion trend. However despite 4 sites being occupied in June 2015 (the month of egg-laying) only one was successful in producing young. Apart from a few records from the Avalon Marshes in August I have no records from elsewhere in the county, indeed I have lived in Muchelney since 1978 and this is the first year I have not recorded Hobby over/around the village in that time so the Swallows have had a peaceful summer!
Quite why the low breeding success is as (always?) a matter of conjecture, the August (fledging month) weather was no worse than most in my recollection..........
Anecdotal evidence suggests a much reduced number of breeding swallows and house martins this year. Several people have commented to me on their absence from regular sites and it's certainly been the case in this village. Also, I do remember reading that there had been a major 'wreck' of migrating hirundines , possibly Bay of Biscay, this spring. So, perhaps, Nigel a poor food supply may be the reason? The weather too has been rather cold and wet this summer.
Hi Nigel & Sandra,
No shortage, as always, of Hobbies in East Somerset this Year. Unusual to venture locally out without seeing a Hobby. A common bird of Summer time here as I have reported again this year to Brian Gibbs. I do not wish to name traditional nesting locations obviously but these birds are relatively easy to observe in the Coleford and surrounding areas in the breeding season; all the way through to the Alfred's Tower area.
Due to family circumstances I have not had any time this year to observe Hobbies in the areas of their nesting sites so have no idea of breeding success or failures.
In Coleford it has been a bumper year for House Martins but the number of Swallows does appear to be slightly down.
I am not sure how many people regularly walk the fields and woodlands and bird away from the many superb County Hot spots on the levels and at the coast? If people did so, this would no doubt see more Hobby reports reaching the County recorder.
Nigel - Always interesting to hear about Hobby breeding season, and nice to know others are out there watching. Sorry to hear breeding success was low though.
I've been fortunate enough to free up some time this summer and re-visit some old haunts. There has breeding success at four sites, two young raised at two sites, and at least one young raised at each of the other sites. Time limitations at these two sites mean I couldn't confirm any other young there, although I suspect at least another juv at one of the sites.
Interestingly a 2nd cy bird was present at one site, unfortunately I got there too late to ascertain if this was the breeding female. However this remains a possibility and could account for low breeding success, i.e. raising just one young?
However no site produced 3 young as I have previously seen.
Unfortunately not enough time to check out 3 potential other sites, roll on next Spring.
John - glad you're seeing good numbers in the east. I'm sure your right about distribution of breeding pairs in generally under watched sites, I rarely see a soul at any of these breeding locations, and certainly not any other bird watchers!
There are certainly more sites out there, having witnessed some clashes between the resident pair and presumably another local pair at one site in particular. This culminated in a spectacular display when one of the dualling pair locked talons, disengaged, locked talons again and then spiralled to the ground. I lost them below a tree line, but presumably they disengaged before hitting the ground as I managed to pick up the chase again a few seconds later.
Records to be sent to the county recorder.
Best wishes, Adam