Lunchtime walks around The Lodge have become much more productive in recent years thanks to the wardens creating a new heath and a path all around the edge for visitors to use. It's also the perfect way to spend your lunch break if you happen to work at RSPB HQ!
I had my suspicions that hobbies were nesting this year back in June when a pair kept returning to a particular clump of pine tress - and were making a lot of noise. Things all went quiet as the horrible summer of rain and wind progressed and I feared that the pair had given up, or perhaps had their eggs or nest washed away.
A couple of weeks ago, the noise started up again and I was first to spot a juvenile hobby - they had bred after all! Hobbies are incredibly secretive when they are nesting, but these guys had really pulled the wool over not just my eyes, but those of all the other birders that work here at The Lodge.
Joel and I have just got back from our lunchtime walk and the hobbies were performing brilliantly. Both youngsters from the nest were very vocal and sitting on different trees out on the heath and making themselves as obvious as they could. They were flying within a few few feet of us and playing with each other, chasing one another off their perches for fun. We were also treated to the sight of one of the parents bringing in prey and the two youngsters shuffling along a branch and up a treetrunk in the hope of getting a bite.
If you're quick, you will see hobbies at The Lodge before they finally migrate to Africa. I reckon they'll be around for another week to 10 days before they are off. They'll be back next year though, so come and pay a visit to RSPB HQ then to see our dragonfly-munching falcons on the new heath.
You might recognise the illustration above from Birds magazine and our spotlight on hobbies in the Wildabout pages, which led to a lot of readers getting in touch to tell me about their favourite hobby-watching spots and successes in seeing them.