Monday, 21 May 2018

Lesser Whitethroat - Rowsley

After hearing Lesser Whitethroat on Saturday on the edge of the moor I had another singing male this morning by the A6 just north of Rowsley. Both birds are probably migrants heading to breeding grounds further west or north.
First time for photos of the smart, grey and white, Lesser Whitethroat on the blog.

Lesser Whitethroat

Sunday, 20 May 2018

Oystercatcher - Chatsworth

The Oystercatcher was still on the nest at Chatsworth this morning. Not sure if it will be brooding eggs or small young now. It was looking a little perplexed by the rapidly changing scene around it as preparations gather pace for the Royal Horticultural Society Show in June.

Saturday, 19 May 2018

More Spring migrant arrivals

On a beautiful Spring morning it looks like most of our returning migrant birds are now back. I added Common and Lesser Whitethroat this morning, the latter is scarce on the eastern side of the Derwent and generally doesn't breed here but is commoner towards Carsington. I also saw my first Swifts, with a dozen over Rowsley although there were reports from Matlock at the start of the week. 
I've yet to see Spotted Flycatcher but they were present at Carsington on Tuesday and I haven't yet been up to Matlock Forest for Nightjar but birds were churring there on Monday (7th May) which is an early date.
Whitethroat - arriving back a little later this year
Unsurprisingly with the recent sunny weather Common Lizards are also enjoying the weather with this small, perhaps 1 year old, individual on Flash Lane. Finally the Large Red Damselfly have at last emerged from my small pond.

Common Lizard

Friday, 18 May 2018

Little Owl - Winster

Whilst I've been away James came across a pair of Little Owls on his drive to work and I managed a trip out to see them this morning and fortunately one of the birds was sat out.
Owl populations in the area, apart from Tawny, fluctuate markedly from year to year. Barn is badly affected by prolonged cold spells with ground snow which can wipe them out completely. Long-eared's on the moor fluctuate with the vole and mice population whilst Short-eared appears now to be only a casual visitor. 
The Little Owl has disappeared from regular sites around Darley Dale and off the moor so there is only a regular pair I've featured in the Bakewell area and this new pair located by James but I do see them occasionally on Bonsall Moor and there is probably a reasonable population there, using the many old barns, some of which are provided with access for Little Owls.
In any case, it's always a treat to see any owls locally.
Little Owl

Thursday, 17 May 2018

Wood Warbler - Halldale Wood

The first report of a singing Wood Warbler was on 10th May in Halldale Wood, whilst I have been away, but what is presumably the same male was still singing there this morning.

Wood Warbler
I've mentioned previously that the local population of Wood Warblers has declined markedly over the past two decades and last year I'm not aware of any records from Halldale which used to be one of the best places to hear their trilling song so its pleasing to have at least one male back there this year. The wider Derbyshire population faired better during the first decade of the 21st Century but has been subject to significant fluctuations from year to year and it looks like the overall trend is sadly one of decline.

The UK Wood Warbler population has declined by 69% since the mid 1990s and has been lost from 50% of its former UK range. However, the causes of this decline are unknown and may be driven by factors at their wintering sites, or migration routes or a combination of these. In order to try and understand the factors affecting Wood Warblers abroad the RSPB has attached tiny geo-locators to a number of Wood Warblers from Dartmoor and the New Forest populations which is further explained here.

I made a recording of the Wood Warbler singing this morning. On the recording you can hear the distinctive liquid trill three times followed by the peu-peu-peu-peu notes at 40 seconds and finally finishing with another trill.

Sunday, 6 May 2018

Common Sandpiper - Chatsworth

My first Common Sandpiper of the Spring below Chatsworth House this morning. I only saw it in flight and managed a record shot but I'm keen to see if it's the colour ringed bird I first saw in 2013. I sent off the details to the BTO in 2015 and got the following details back;

This bird was ringed by D W Yalden as age at least 1 year, sex unknown on 05-Jul-2012 17:30:00 at Ladybower (N), Grainfoot, Derbyshire, UK
OS Map reference SK1987 accuracy 0, co-ordinates 53deg 22min N -1deg -42min W accuracy 0.
Colour Marks left below knee N
Colour Marks right below knee P,M
Colour Marks left above knee P
It was found on 21-Jun-2015 time unknown at Edensor, Derbyshire, UK
OS Map reference SK2569 accuracy 0, co-ordinates 53deg 12min N -1deg -37min W accuracy 1.
Finding condition: Sight record by non-ringer
Finding circumstances: Identified by Colour Ring(s)
Extra Information: Reported as HW62096
Common Sandpiper

Tuesday, 24 April 2018

Ring Ouzel in song - Beeley Moor

There is no more welcome sound to me than the plaintive song of the male Ring Ouzel on an early spring morning. Although it is a regular breeding bird to the north on the edges of Curber, Froggatt and Stanage it is most often seen around Beeley as a bird of spring and autumn passage but it does occasionally stay to breed.
This male was in full song this morning and hopefully he can attract a female.
Ring Ouzel - male 

I have played around with a sound file recorded on my phone and if all has gone well you should be able to hear it by clicking the arrowhead below. From a distance the plaintive three note whistle is all that can be heard but in between there are a range of other weaker notes.
Having worked out how to do it I've also added a sound file to the Lesser Spotted Woodpecker post below.

Sunday, 22 April 2018

Nuthatch nest building - Chatsworth

Came across this Nuthatch using dead leaves to line the nest void at Chatsworth this morning. The hole in the tree has been much larger and the Nuthatch have filled it with mud to get the preferred entrance size. This behaviour is only found in one other bird family the unrelated hornbills of tropical Africa and Asia.

Saturday, 21 April 2018

Green Hairstreak - Gratton Dale

First Green Hairstreak seen and photographed today by Doug Aston in Gratton Dale. One of the first records in Derbyshire I think.
Green Hairstreak (© Doug Aston)

Pied Flycatcher threat display

I've observed Pied Flycatchers doing their territorial threat display several times before but never managed to get any photos but I managed some yesterday.
Two males were singing but separated by perhaps 50m whilst I was roughly in the gap between them. I then noticed one of the birds looking agitated and starting to flick one wing to a vertical position whilst its white body feathers were puffed up. I then saw that the second bird was now much closer. The first bird continued to flick one wing and then it flicked both wings with its tail lowered at which point the intruding bird made a hasty retreat.
The male looks quite comical in the upper photo and good for a caption competition!

Pied Flycatcher threat display

Short-eared Owl - Beeley Moor

It was May 2016 when Short-eared Owl last featured on the blog, so no records in 2017 but I am pleased to report that Roger had a bird hunting on Beeley Moor yesterday evening. I commented that he must have been quite close to get the photos but he replied he was on 240x magnification! 
In March I had a brief sighting of an owl after dusk which was probably a Short-eared and I am aware of another bird photographed during that month so whether this is the same bird or another it's impossible to say but hopefully it will stay for some time.
First Cuckoo calling on Flash Lane this morning and several Pied Flycatchers and Redstart now singing in the woods in the valley, doubtless encouraged to move north by the beautiful weather over the last few days.  So spring is well and truly underway now with the first Swifts at Carsington today.

Short-eared Owl (© Roger Carrington)

Friday, 20 April 2018

Lesser Spotted Woodpecker - Darley Dale

Is this Derbyshire's rarest regular breeding bird? 
According to the Derbyshire Ornithological Society there has been no more than three proven breeding pairs per year in the County during the past decade and none at all in 2014.
Nationally the species has declined by 82% since 1970 and is now Red Listed which is the highest level of UK conservation concern.

Investigations by the RSPB identified poor breeding success  as a factor for the decline but the reasons for this are not yet known.

I have seen Lesser Spotted Woodpeckers before in the Darley Dale area but not since 2012. However, I saw a pair yesterday with both birds drumming and the male calling occasionally and I photographed the male below in the same location this morning. 
They are fantastic birds and it would be great if they could nest successfully locally.
Lesser Spotted Woodpecker - male
Having just worked out how to add a sound file to a blog post I've included below a recording made when I took the photo above which starts of with three drumming sessions from the Lesser Spotted followed by a louder drum from the Great Spotted followed by further Lesser Spotted and two more bursts from the Greater.

Saturday, 14 April 2018

Common Cranes over Beeley Moor!

After almost a week of cold and mist weather on the moors it felt a lot more Spring like this morning. After male Ring Ouzel and singing male Redstart we had already had a good morning when two Common Cranes came over the moor just before 10am and circled close to Whitesprings plantation gaining height before drifting off in the Farley/ Matlock direction. They were subsequently seen over Loscoe Dam.
With the increase in the Norfolk population and birds regularly around Thorne Moors in South Yorkshire it is surprising that there are still less than twenty records in Derbyshire.
A Tree Pipit singing on the edge of the plantation as we left was another first for the year.

Common Cranes

Saturday, 7 April 2018

White Wagtail - Whitesprings Plantation

The Pied Wagtail is a common resident in the area and winter roosts at the Endhoven works can number several hundreds. Its European cousin, the White Wagtail, is a regular spring and autumn migrants in Derbyshire and is primarily associated with wetland areas so it was a surprise to find one feeding on one of the recently felled areas at Whitesprings Plantation this morning.

White Wagtail (Motacilla alba alba)

Identification is easiest in the spring when there are no juveniles around.
Key features are the pale grey mantle, pale flanks and greyish rather than blackish rump. 
The relevant area of the rump is generally taken as that adjacent to the middle tertial.
Note, however, how the colour of the mantle varies in these photos with the angle of the bird and changing light. The lower bird in the bottom photo looks distinctly darker than that in the top most photo.

Red Kite and more Spring migrants

Given the breeding numbers of Red Kite both to the north and south of Derbyshire it is surprising that it is still a relatively scarce bird in the County or at least in the Peak District. Most of my sightings are distant specs over the Derwent Valley or Beeley Moor so it was a real treat this morning to get very close views of a bird hunting around Flash Dam. It did catch something as you can see in one of the photos and I suspect it was a frog.

Red Kite - second calendar year

I've aged it as a second calendar year as it has very little black streaking on the upper breast and pale tips to the greater coverts.
In the Flash Lane area I also had a Ring Ouzel and my first Willow Warblers of the Spring.
Also a decent night for moths with Tawny Pinion, Yellow Horned, and 4 Oak Beauty amongst a good crop of commoner species.
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