Dragon slayers of Pine Ridge

To: 'Canberra birds' <>
Subject: Dragon slayers of Pine Ridge
From: Steve Read <>
Date: Sat, 27 Feb 2016 05:03:37 +0000

While living in Ballarat, Victoria, we used to watch the local hobby hawking for dragonflies over Lake Wendouree, then disassembling them and eating on the wing. The hobby often perched on television aerials on local roofs, so perches were available, but I only recall it eating on the wing.




From: Philip Veerman [
Sent: Saturday, 27 February 2016 1:52 PM
To: 'Canberra birds'
Subject: RE: [canberrabirds] Dragon slayers of Pine Ridge


I also have noted our Hobby (and other small raptors) eating insects in flight but also on a perch. There is well known film of several raptors catching and eating bats in flight. David, at the places you are writing about have many available perches? Years ago (1983) I saw a Hobby catch and take a big green cicada to a perch (presumably) for eating. A Pied Currawong arrived and perched below it and stole the cicada from the Hobby’s foot, it then departed.  The Hobby did not appear to understand what had happened. I wrote that story in CBN 11(4):132.........




From: David Rees
Sent: Saturday, 27 February 2016 11:35 AM
To: John Layton
Cc: Canberra birds
Subject: Re: [canberrabirds] Dragon slayers of Pine Ridge




Interesting, I have seen its close relation the Eurasian Hobby hunting dragonflies on many occasions, while in the UK.  However, I have never seen one of these birds land to deal with such prey, they always eat them on the wing. Different if they nail something serious to eat such as a swallow or martin.




On Sat, Feb 27, 2016 at 8:20 AM, John Layton <> wrote:

At 7am yesterday I stopped off Stockdill Drive, Holt, opposite the Pine Ridge dam, always worth a look. As I watched, a Rainbow Bee-eater landed on the uppermost branch of a willow, on a section of the branch growing horizontal for about 60cm before tuning downwards. This section was devoid of foliage which made it ideal for the bee-eater’s purpose, namely bashing the living daylights out of a large dragonfly.

Suddenly the bee-eater took wing and left carrying its prey. Maybe it had dependent young somewhere, or was yielding to a congener higher up the pecking order because, within a second or two, another bee-eater landed on the bashing branch and set about tenderising a large dragonfly. But almost immediately it was up and gone The reason for its sudden departure flickered by in the form of an Australian Hobby. The hobby climbed high in the sky before banking around and descending to land on the bashing branch. It held a dragonfly against the branch and, without bashing, removed wings and things before eating the palatable portions. After some 60 seconds it dropped the remnants of its prey and took wing returning within a minute carrying another dragonfly.

During the ensuing 30 minutes I watched the hobby complete three more forays, returning to the same perch to eat what appeared to be similar prey.

John K. Layton




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