This has to be one of the most depressing weeks I've ever had as birder. I can handle seeing the Sandmartins demise at Moulton Quarry, it's natural tooth 'n' claw etc though a comment from Trevor on the previous blog made me remember I had some flight shots of the adults with serious infection on their faces/bills. So perhaps parasites were also a combining factor in the colony collapse that is the up and downs of watching nature.
However the Hobby issue at Quarry Walk has been bothering me for a while, I've had several other people who visit the site text,email or tweet they hadn't seen a single Hobby. On my last visit when I also walked up to Summer Leys and a battle re-enactment was taking place at nearby Grendon Lakes. At the same time I kept hearing a rifle shot that was 'silenced'. Not unusual as there is two lads in a blue/silver (two tone split) Toyota Hilux though they also have a silver Japanese 4x4 too(driver Bearded, passenger older, glasses has a wildlife watching beanbag, rifle & silencer....in case you see them) who apparently shoot rabbits and at rats, apparently. Here's a map for reference
Now the area shown has always been good for Hobbies. Many years ago as the Hobbies arrived in the UK I had 20 birds in the air, further back in time a Red Footed Falcon was at the nearby Mill. Sadly those Hobby numbers have never been repeated.
This year was heading for a good year I had 8 birds. They were performing their acrobatic and impressive courtship display, even passing food to each other. I saw from my position on the site(see black arrow on the image below) three pairs take over old crows nests, Hobbies for whatever reason like old crows nests. The fourth pair I knew nested but wasn't on the site.
I sat on the mound for two hours and not a single Hobby sighting. I would've expected to see one bird returning to Nest B. I would've also expected to see birds (just) going to C&D too. And perhaps all four hunting the field/Lakes in front of the mound. But nothing, no calling nothing. It was a perfect day for them,sunny, a slight breeze and loads of dragons in the air even the terns were successful in catching them. Personally I was worried about nest B but at the time more from disturbance, you could hear the faint calling and hardly hard to find/spot. Given the incubation period the chicks would've been about 6-7 days old about now so there should've been plenty of hunting going on. I satisfied myself there was no nesting and went for a closer look.
I'm in a bit of a pickle what to do now, I will give the RSPB a call just to log my concerns they DO have a very good and detailed reporting system in place. I have sadly used once before, very professional. Is it worth reporting it to the police? They won't find anything I didn't, probably won't put in as much effort either, there's no evidence so is it worthwhile. I have in my youth had dealings with Northamptonshire police and don't trust them and had to lodge a complaint with the IPCC a few years back whilst reporting (or trying to) an actual theft of juvenile Little Owl's taking place as I was chasing after the thieves only to be asked by the police phone operator "is it an actual crime to steal birds from the wild then" in short no faith in them.