A hobby of daylight robbery

To: Birding Aus <>
Subject: A hobby of daylight robbery
From: L&L Knight <>
Date: Sun, 31 May 2009 21:47:34 +1000
I was birding with an interstate visitor at Luggage Point (near the mouth of the Brisbane River). We had turned up a few target species and were looking for Chestnut-breasted Mannikins [I had seen them there a couple of years ago]. There was a lot of water about from the heavy rain that substantially filled SEQ's water storages, making it harder for find the little chaps.

We had flushed a couple of finch-sized birds, but they weren't sitting up on the top of the grass and they weren't calling. We flushed another one, and it flew in a fluttering fashion, before settling out of sight in the grass. I figured I would photograph it on the wing. I was just switching my camera over to manual focus when I heard my companion exclaim that a raptor had pinched had pinched the bird. I turned around and managed to get a few photographs of a brown raptor flying off. (I've placed a picture on ABID - it should be available shortly)

The distant raptor sitting in a tree that I had carelessly dismissed as a kestrel turned out to be a hobby. Given that the cistacola [I subsequently photographed another one that had been behaving similarly] wasn't in the air for long, I was surprised that the hobby had been close enough to pick it off from a point several metres from me. It must have observed the cistacola flush the first time and moved in so that it could catch it the second time it rose.

Moral: don't flush rarities when raptors are about. The bird might be pinched before you can tick it.

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