Saturday, 22 September 2018

Meadow Pipits on the move

A large movement of Meadow Pipits over Beeley Moor this morning. Parties of generally 15 to 30 were moving SW across the moor on a broad front but some groups numbered several hundred. Difficult to estimate the number of birds involved but 10,000 were counted passing over Wintersett Reservoir this morning. Many of these birds will be travelling down to the Iberian Peninsula for the winter.
A Northern Wheatear on Flash Lane allowed a very close approach but in heavily overcast conditions. I think this bird is an adult male, with lots of grey showing through on the crown and mantle and uniformly fresh plumage. It could be a 'Greenland' Wheatear, race leucorhoa, looking at the length of the primaries. These birds migrate from Greenland and Iceland through the UK and western Europe to Africa and, as is generally the case, longer distance migrants have longer wings.
Northern Wheatear - adult male

At least 6 Stonechat and 6 Red Grouse, which is my largest group of the autumn, rounded of the morning. 
I then headed over to Carsington where a second Grey Phalarope had turned up but I failed to find it.

Friday, 21 September 2018

Grey Phalarope - Carsington

The recent spell of gale force winds have impacted on migrating birds with large numbers of seabirds seen close inshore off the SW coast whilst some have been driven inland including this Grey Phalarope found by Alan Stewardson at Carsington Water this morning. This is a juvenile moulting in to 1st winter plumage and is only the eight time the species has been recorded at Carsington.
Breeding within the Arctic Circle, with a small number of pairs in Iceland, they migrate down the North Atlantic at this time of year, remaining at sea until they reach their wintering grounds off eastern and southern Africa. Their occurence inland is almost always as a result of displacement due to very strong westerly winds like we have experienced recently. There have been around half a dozen on inland waters, and around another 40 around the UK coast during the last couple of days, and they will doubtless continue their southward journey once the wind decreases.

Grey Phalarope moulting to 1st winter plumage

Saturday, 1 September 2018

Kingfisher - Rowsley

A scarce bird locally Kingfishers are again being seen around Caudwells Mill canal and the adjacent River Wye where this bird was photographed this morning. The all dark bill and red feet indicate that this bird is an adult male.
Kingfisher - adult male

Relatively quiet on the moors but a juvenile Whinchat at Whitesprings was in an unusual location. 
Whinchat - juvenile

Wednesday, 29 August 2018

Yellow Slime Mold - Whitesprings Plantation

Walking through the cleared area of Whitesprings Plantation I noticed a bright yellow area about the size of a tennis ball that looked like a splash of paint on the side of a dead pine, several metres off the ground. On closer inspection it looks like the Yellow Slime Mold, Fuligo septica. 
I've often come across it on the ground on the moors where it forms a very slipper mass in the autumn, also known as dog vomit slime mold, but I've never seen such a bright yellow example before.
Yellow Slime Mold

Sunday, 26 August 2018

Ruddy Shelduck - Carsington Water

A Ruddy Shelduck was found at Carsington last Thursday and was still present this morning when it flew in with Canada Geese just after 8am at Millfields. A rare visitor to the County, but recorded most years, and almost certainly of feral origins.
Ruddy Shelduck - probably adult female

Although the Ruddy Shelduck is on the British List it is in Category B, species which have been recorded in an apparently natural state at least once between 1 January1800 and 31 December 1949. All subsequent records are in Category E which comprises those species that have been recorded as introductions, human-assisted transportees or escapees from captivity, whose breeding populations (if any) are thought not to be self-sustaining. 
The Ruddy Shelduck is a native of eastern Europe, breeding around the Black Sea coast and adjoining areas of Greece, I saw at least 20 birds on the Greek island of Kos this Spring.
There is, however a regular and increasing flock of moulting birds at Eemmeer in the Netherlands each summer with over 800 birds counted recently. This is a possible source of the un-ringed Carsington bird, as well as the half dozen which turn up elsewhere in the UK at this time of year, post the moult which leaves them flightless for several weeks. These birds appear to be mainly from feral populations in Switzerland and Germany but there is a slight chance that this moulting flock could include genuine wild birds from further east. If the link to wild birds could be proven, birds at Eemmeer have been ringed and even satellite tagged, then there would be some possibility of genuinely wild birds occurring in the UK. 

Tuesday, 21 August 2018

Osprey - Whitesprings Plantation

My first local Osprey of the autumn today (I was at the Birdfair on Friday and saw one of the Rutland Water birds as my first of the autumn) carrying a large trout over Whitesprings Plantation this morning. It circled several times before drifting off over Beeley village towards Chatsworth. 
It looked like an adult female with a dark breast band and two rows of dark markings on the underwing coverts. It had a blue Darvic ring on the left leg and I suspect it may be the same bird I saw in the spring. Unfortunately none of the photos were good enough to read the ring.
There has been an Osprey on and off at Ogston since the 8th August so it could be that bird, not sure if it has a Darvic ring.

Osprey probably adult female

Tuesday, 7 August 2018

Wall Brown doing well

After a rather bleak review of the declining fortunes of the Wall butterfly in 2016 (see here) it looks like they are doing much better locally this year. In a short walk this morning I saw several on Flash Lane, Wraggs Quarry and at the Cupola Ponds. 
Last week I saw several at Clough Wood which has always been a stronghold for the species.
Wall butterfly

Wednesday, 25 July 2018

Marbled White butterfly at Clough Wood for a 4th year

Alan Stewardson informed me of the first records of the Marbled White at Clough Wood this year on 24th June whilst I was away. At least one individual still flying today. 
They have now be present each year since 2015. This is quite a brown individual which I assume means it has been on the wing for some time.
Marbled White

Tuesday, 24 July 2018

A few birds from the weekend

I have just returned from a month in southern Europe (still writing up the trip on andybutlerdiaries ) and made my first visit to the moors over the weekend. The temperature at least was similar to those I experienced last week, but the birds were different!
A female Whinchat on Beeley Moor was the first I have seen locally this year and it doesn't look like they have bred here so this is probably a female that is passing through, hopefully having bred successfully elsewhere. 
Whinchat -  female

A party of at least 17 Crossbill on Flash Lane was a further sign that birds are already on the move as there have been only a couple of birds in the area in the earlier summer.
At Chatsworth no sign of any Common Sandpiper so looks like they have not bred on the river below the House this year but a Wigeon was very unseasonal, looks like this is a drake in eclipse plumage.
Wigeon = eclipse drake

On the river at Rowsley a juvenile Dipper was just about visible in the foliage on the edge of the river.
Dipper - juvenile

Friday, 13 July 2018

Bordered Sallow a new moth for the Darley Dale area

Simon caught a Bordered Sallow in Darley Dale on the 4th July and sent me these photos. As far as we are aware this is the first record in the Matlock/ Bakewell area. 
It's an attractive moth and is generally restricted to the NW of Derbyshire.
Bordered Sallow (© Simon Roddis)

Friday, 29 June 2018

White-letter Hairstreak - Darley Dale

It's been five years since I last heard of a White-letter Hairstreak in Darley Dale but Simon Roddis sent me this photo taken recently in his garden. 
The butterfly clearly still survives in the village but in very low numbers. There are small elms dotted around the local woodlands and these must still support this species.
White-letter Hairstreak (© Simon Roddis)

Another local Turtle Dove record

I was contacted by Simon Moody in the second week of June to say that he had seen a Turtle Dove in Uppertown around the time I photographed the bird in Matlock Forest, could it be the same bird? 
Well since then Simon has had further sightings of the bird in Uppertown and it is clearly another individual. Apparently this bird, another male, has been courting the local Collared Doves and was still in the area earlier this week when he took this superb photo.
Turtle Dove (© Simon Moody)

Wednesday, 13 June 2018

Record sighting of Red Kite

I've just seen 4 Red Kite together over the woods at the back of my garden in Darley Dale, a record count locally for me. It looks like they were heading towards Matlock but then turned towards Oaker. 
They all look like moulting adults, so could be failed breeders for one of the populations to the north or south of Derbyshire.

Red Kite

Orchids in Wragg's Quarry

There are dozens of flowering spikes of orchids appearing in Wragg's Quarry at the moment. When they first appeared around 2011 I'm sure they were all Northern Marsh Orchids but now there appear to be a wide range of hybrids with what looks like Heath Spotted Orchid.
Many of the hybrids are tall flowering spikes which is a feature of hybridisation.
What ever they are there are some superb examples!
Northern Marsh Orchid with close-up lower petal insert
Heath Spotted Orchid with close-up lower petal insert
hybrid Northern Marsh x Heath Spotted Orchid with unmarked leaves
hybrid Northern Marsh x Heath Spotted Orchid

Monday, 11 June 2018

A second record of Morophaga Choragella the Large Clothes Moth

Simon caught this moth in Darley Dale a couple of days ago. I caught one on July 2016 so it looks like this moth is perhaps recently established in the area. We are not aware of any other Derbyshire records but it would be surprising if there are not some to the South as it looks like the moth is spreading North. 
There are a handful of records from Nottinghamshire but otherwise is restricted to the south east of the Country
Morophaga choragella © Simon Roddis
NBN Atlas records of Morophaga choragella
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