Friday, 17 May 2019

More orchids and the Grey Gorse Piercer moth

In addition to the Green-winged Orchids yesterday I saw a single Burnt Orchid which was only about 5cm high. Last year I visited the area in early June and there were more Burnt Orchid so I'm guessing I'm a little early for them flowering.
Burnt Orchid
In the area of the Green-winged Orchid I came across a few fresh looking orchids that I think may be hybrids with Early Purple. The Early Purple had mostly gone over but these orchids were fresh but lacked the distinctive dark lines on the sepals but otherwise the flowers looked similar to Green-winged.
Possible hybrid Green-winged x Early Purple Orchid
Passing through an area of gorse I disturbed many small grey looking micro moths which turned out to be the Grey Gorse Piercer ( Cydia ulicetana) a moth I have occasionally caught at home but nice to see it amongst the gorse.

Grey Gorse Piercer Cydia ulicatana

Thursday, 16 May 2019

Green-winged Orchid - Via Gellia

One of the rarest orchids to be found in Derbyshire I finally caught up with several examples of the Green-winged Orchid today in the Via Gellia. Named for the dark veins on the sepals Derbyshire is a the northern end of its UK distribution although isolated colonies do occur further north.

Green-winged Orchid

Tuesday, 14 May 2019

Brimstone butterfly

The Brimstone is a relatively common and widespread butterfly in the area, I see odd ones in the garden most years, but this is the first time it has appeared on the blog. This is mainly because I rarely see them land, but today I managed a photo of one in flight by the river at Rowsley.

Sunday, 12 May 2019

First Hobby of the year

Saw my first Hobby yesterday, over Haddon Hall, then another today on Beeley Moor. Very distant but you can at least see what it is!
It's been poor for Hobby the last few years with no signs of breeding locally, hopefully this year will be better.

Friday, 10 May 2019

Return of the Wood Warbler

Finally found a returning Wood Warbler, singing this morning in Clough Wood. I've been checking the local woods regularly since reports came back of birds in the Sheffield area well over a week ago. 
mentioned last year how numbers have declined nationally and how this has impacted on our local population so its always a relief to see and hear the first bird back.

Wood Warbler

Thursday, 9 May 2019

Whimbrel - Alicehead

The Whimbrel are still present on the small holding at Alicehead today. Numbers increased to 6 three days ago but have been down to 5 the last couple of days, I could only get 4 together in the photo.
It's likely that the current spell of cold weather is holding them back from continuing their northward journey and they'll be off when it starts to warm.

Whimbrel - the lower photo showing the distinctive head pattern

Tuesday, 7 May 2019

Solomon's-seal - Beeley Moor

Having seen the Summer Snowflake recently my attention was drawn to a small cluster of flowers on Flash Lane which were superficially similar but were examples of Solomon's-seal. A scarce plant in Derbyshire and given their location, by a car pull-in area, they must be someones garden waste. Yesterday I came across another cluster on the track down to Beeley from Hellbank, surprisingly these were about 1km from the Hellbank parking place so odd to think someone would wonder down the lane with them?
Both Solomon's-seal and Angular Solomon's-seal are native to Derbyshire occurring rarely in the limestone dales.
Solomon's-seal - Flash Lane
Solomon's-seal Hellbank track

Thursday, 2 May 2019

Grasshopper Warbler - Harewwood Moor

Grasshopper Warblers can be heard giving their distinctive reeling songs from several points around Harewood Moor at the moment. Quite often heard, but seldom seen, the Grasshopper Warbler can remain hidden even in small areas of the damp grassland which it favours. I was very lucky today to disturb one which landed on a near by fence rather than dropping back in to the grass, it even gave a burst of song!
There are perhaps half a dozen pairs around Harewood Moor but there could easily be more.

Grasshopper Warbler

Whimbrel - Alicehead

Three Whimbrel have been present for several days at the small holding by the junction of  Chesterfield  Road and Alicehead Road. There are Curlews close by giving a good comparison of the two similar species. When seen together the Whimbrel is noticeably smaller, the distinctive dark crown and eyestripe are just visible in the photo and the bill is shorter and less curved than Curlew.
It probably crosses the area most years as it heads north towards its breeding grounds in northern Scotland and Scandanavia but is easily overlooked, its piping call is quite unlike Curlew and is often the first indication of a passing bird.

Tuesday, 30 April 2019

Bank Vole - Flash Lane

Although I've seen Bank Voles occasionally before on Flash Lane, usually taking seed that has been left for the birds, today I had one out in the open in the sunshine. It looked surprisingly rufous in the sunshine having mostly watched them in the shadows.
Bank Vole

More Dark Green Fritillary caterpillars seen today, possibly another dozen in three different locations so surely there will be some adults on the wing in the summer. My first Emperor Moth of the year today and several Common Lizard enjoying the sunshine and a calling Cuckoo.

Monday, 22 April 2019

Smooth and Palmate Newts

I have a small garden pond which attracts both Smooth and Palmate Newts. Smooth Newts are the commonest but their identification is not easy, especially at the start of the breeding season. In the photo below the Smooth Newt is at the top. It lacks the fully webbed toes of the Palmate and it also lacks the thin filament on the tail end which is just visible in the lower photo. 
I presume both species occur widely in suitable ponds across the area and have also seen the Great Crested Newt locally but have yet to see one in my pond.
Smooth Newt (upper) and Palmate Newt (lower)

Sunday, 21 April 2019

Dark Green Fritillary - caterpillar

The Dark Green Fritillary butterfly is common, sometimes very common during the summer at Longstone Edge and the dales of the White Peak where its food plant the Common Dog-violet is widespread but it is scarce on the gritstone moors. So it was a surprise today to find this caterpillar on top of one of the walls of Beeley Moor. 
The larva which will have emerged from an egg last summer and, having over wintered as a larva, will pupate late April/ early May emerging as a butterfly in mid-June.
Dark Green Fritillary caterpillar

Saturday, 20 April 2019

Roe Deer - Beeley Moor

Brief view of a Roe Deer crossing Beeley Moor this morning and having to jump quite high to clear the heather. Only my fifth sighting in the area so still a rarity locally.
Roe Deer

Summer Snowflake - Clough Wood

At a chance meeting with Simon Roddis yesterday he told me about a flowering Summer Snowflake he had seen at Clough Wood that morning. I went along in the afternoon and soon located the single flowering plant which was new to me.

Summer Snowflake Leucojum aestivum
Simon had consulted The Flora of Derbyshire which listed only one prior record, at Williamthorpe in 2002. There are two subspecies; aestivum from southern England and pulchellum from the western Mediterranean and like the Williamthorpe record the example in Clough Wood is probably pulchellum which is cultivated as a garden plant. So it's impossible to say what its origins might be.
An interesting record all the same and I'll be looking for it next year.

Thursday, 18 April 2019

Return of the Red Kite

There have been several local sightings of Red Kite in the past few weeks and I finally managed some decent views today.

Red Kite mobbed by Raven

The Red Kite was lost as a breeding bird in Derbyshire in the middle of the 19th Century prior to then it was postulated that the kite's Derbyshire headquarters were 'in the wooded portions of the Peak, the common Buzzard taking its place in the lower parts of the county' according to FB Whitlock who published the first Birds of Derbyshire in 1893.
The loss of the Red Kite in Derbyshire was mirrored throughout England with the only population in the UK restricted to a small area in central Wales. I can still vividly recall my first sighting of a Red Kite at the age of 19 having hitch hiked from Leeds to Wales in April 1976, I still have my notebook in which I recorded the event!
My notebook entry for April 1976 - not a great drawing but at least I used a red pen!

In 1989 the RSPB and Natural Englands predecessor instigated a reintroduction programme. Starting in the Chilterns and followed by Rockingham Forest in the East Midlands and then Harewood Estate in Yorkshire. The programme has been a great success and the number of sightings in Derbyshire has increased dramatically since the turn of the Century with over 200 records in 2017 compared with just six records in the period 1900 - 1977. 
Finally a pair bred successfully in Derbyshire in 2018 raising one youngster at Kedleston Hall and it can only be a matter of time before they are breeding again in Whitlock's 'wooded portions of the Peak'.
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