Red-footed falcon at Morden Bog in Wareham Forest, Dorset, May 2016
Just a few notes on the female red-footed falcon which was seen at beginning of May 2016 at Morden Bog in Dorset. On my first visit the views were disappointing. Just like a hobby it circled at height, then switched between hunting over reedbed and perching in distant trees
More people were there when I returned the following day. It was hunting around the decoy pond in a kestrel like fashion. Watching from a perch, then diving downwards for insect prey low on the vegetation. It was also hovering for short periods too.
Red-footed falcons summer in Eastern Europe through to North-West Asia, inhabiting open habitats with some trees. They are highly communal in hunting, nesting and roosting. Nests are often in old rook colonies, but also on cliffs, in tree holes or on the ground at the base shrubs. They migrate in winter to South-Western Africa.
Unlike this female, the males are slate grey with red legs and rear-underside. I saw a male plumage bird in Bedfordshire in 2008, they tend turn up in Eastern-England most regularly as vagrants.
Feeding mostly is on crickets, grasshoppers and locusts and flying insects, but they can also eat small lizards, mammals and amphibians. This one had probably been feeding on dragonflies and damselflies. In addition to hovering and in-flight hunting they can also hunt prey by running along the ground.
Happily, as time went on the falcon began hunting closer and closer allowing better photos.
Red-footed falcons are declining in some parts of it's range, conservation work is helping in Hungary and Western Romania.