Hobby or Peregrine?


The flock of 30+ goldfinches that visit my garden were chased off today by a small bird of prey that was either a hobby or a peregrine. It had the same black/blue moustache pattern, was kestrel sized and had very pointy wings. It had pretty strong wingbeats but short wingbeats but was swallow-like when chasing. I didn’t manage to take a photo as it happened pretty quickly. My book doesn’t make it much clearer. Does this behaviour and description wise sound more like a hobby or a peregrine? 

  • Chasing a flock of birds in a garden sounds much more likely to have been a Sparrowhawk.

    Richard B

  • In reply to Richard G B:

    Sparrowhawks frequently visit but it definitely was either a hobby or a peregrine. Had pointy triangular falcon wings and dark moustache pattern on face whilst being dark overall. Thanks for the idea anyway
  • While I can't comment re ID, and Richard is right that the most likely flock raider is a garden is a Sparrowhawk, ellis's description doesn't match a Sprawk, for me, particularly the two comments on wing action.

    I've lived (sometimes very) close to nesting Peregrines for around 15 years, but have never seen one in a garden. Hobbies I have seen in our own garden, if very rarely and very briefly.


  • In reply to Dave - CH:

    Thanks, I live near nesting peregrines too and they generally just soar over at some height. I’ve watched a few videos and read a few sections of books and I think it was a hobby. Especially, the overall shape with the longer tail and wings (like a swallow/swift). Also, we have a few kestrels around the village, with it being a very similar if not smaller size than one, since peregrines are obviously larger. But I definitely distinctively remember the black moustache and the long pointy wings, so I think I will record it as a hobby. Thanks for the help
  • If it was small a peregrine seems unlikely. I'll go with hobby.

    Our herring gulls are red listed birds.  Think about that the next time you hear some flaming idiot calling for a cull of them.

  • In reply to ellis187:

    ellis187 said:
    I definitely distinctively remember the black moustache

    Whenever I've seen a Hobby close up, personally I've been struck by the Tipex blob they have on the face. I think "the" guide refers to a "shining white cheek".

    In your shoes, I'd record it as a maybe, and keep watching. Sometimes maybes are the best sightings of all, as they have us going back for more.

    Re Common Kestrels, I find that they can make an extraordinary variety of silhouettes. So can be tricky. If I had a tener for every time we've turned the car around, got out, and checked, only to find that we're looking at a Kestrel, I'd be retired already.

    Helpfully though, Kestrels, Peregrines, Sparrowhawks, and Merlins all fly differently. I'd do a bit of reading up on that if I were you. Not sure if Dick Forsman has anything helpful up online, for example. 

    All the best - 


  • In reply to Dave - CH:

    Yup I agree, I’d rather record it as possible then confirm it later if I see it again. I’ll go have a look now for flight patterns/behaviour and come back if I find anything interesting. Thanks
  • In reply to Dave - CH:

    Just had look and found a few photos online, which look identical to what I saw. Read an article on regarding the flight, including the chase, it sounded very alike especially the ‘anchor’ shape. Thanks 

  • In reply to ellis187:

    Nice to hear you've got a bit of research in ellis.

    All you need to do now is to spend half your life in the garden, and you might just see it again.


  • Probably a hobby

    Dan McGuire