Wednesday, 8 November 2017

Merlin and Stonechat in the sunshine

Glorious sunshine today and I managed to catch up with a Merlin that Ken had first seen on 31st October. I had rather distant views but Ken got some great photos, one of which I've posted below.
Merlin - probably a juvenile female (© Ken Smith)

Still several pairs of Stonechat on the moor, perhaps 5 or 6 pairs around Beeley Moor.
Stonechat - male and female

Down at the Whitworth the Water Rail still present this morning along with Kingfisher and the regular Cormorant.

Sunday, 29 October 2017

Water Rail back at Whitworth Park

I can only assume that it is the Water Rail seen at the Whitworth Park last November that has returned again this autumn. First seen by Mary Wilde about a week ago it was still there this morning but very difficult to see. 
There is no mud at the moment so it is hidden in the vegetation most of the time. I just caught it as it decided to swim from the bank to the island, where it would be almost impossible to see. 
Water Rail

Tuesday, 24 October 2017

A Vestal finally makes it to Darley Dale

With the warm evenings persisting I've continued to run the moth trap in the hope of catching a migrant from the south. Last night it paid off with a single Vestal in the trap this morning. The mild southerly winds have carried large numbers to the south coast but they are scarcer inland and few get this far north.
It's the fourth record for my garden with one in 2011 and two in 2013.
The Vestal

Friday, 20 October 2017

Winter thrush arrival

Lots of flocks of winter thrushes, in groups of 40 to 50 birds, were arriving from the coast and passing over Beeley Moor this morning. Mainly Redwing but with a few Fieldfare also several Brambling which were my first of the autumn.

Saturday, 2 September 2017

Common Lizards - Flash Lane

Plenty of Common Lizards soaking up the sunshine this morning including some youngsters. The top photo is a composite of two shots in order to have both in focus, unfortunately I have a central area between the two that wasn't in focus on either shot so should have taken three!
The middle photo looks like an adult with a regrown tail and the bottom photo is a youngster only 4 cm long and still with a very dark tail.

Common Lizard

Wednesday, 30 August 2017

Marsh Harrier - a migrant over Harewood Moor

This cream crowned Marsh Harrier flew rapidly SE over Harewood Moor this afternoon and looks like a juvenile.
With the dramatic increase in the UK breeding population we do appear to be getting a few more sightings over the moor, usually on Spring or Autumn passage.
Marsh Harrier

Monday, 28 August 2017

Whinchat = Beeley Moor

I've no evidence that Whinchat bred on Beeley Moor this year so this juvenile photographed on a fence on the edge of the moor was probably a local migrant from East Moor or Big Moor where there is a larger breeding population.
Whinchat - juvenile

Wednesday, 23 August 2017

Water Vole - Rowsley

The Water Voles at Caudwell's Mill and adjacent River Wye appear to have had a tough time in recent years. They were fairly widespread there up to late 2014 when they disappeared entirely. I found one dead at that time and with hindsight I wish I had done more to establish the cause.
In 2015 and 2016 I saw very little evidence of their presence although I did here several reports of sightings. At the start of this year I started to see regular signs of droppings but the Water Voles themselves remained elusive although I did manage some brief sightings.
As we have moved in to the summer sightings have become more frequent but they remain very shy, which may not be such a bad thing!
Water Vole

Saturday, 19 August 2017

Two striking caterpillars at Wraggs Quarry

Very windy today with some rain showers, birds were few and far between on the moors so I decided to look for a Poplar Hawkmoth caterpillar which Alan Stewardson had found earlier in the week. It took some finding in a Sallow bush, despite its size (6cm).  
Whilst looking for the Poplar Hawkmoth Alan and I also found a Puss Moth caterpillar.
Both are common and widespread moths locally but not seen too often.
Poplar Hawkmoth caterpillar
Puss Moth caterpillar

Sparrowhawk - juvenile

Had a lucky encounter with a juvenile Sparrowhawk. It chased a small bird in to a bush close to me and I just managed to get a photo before it carried on the chase in to another bush.
Sparrowhawk - juvenile

Monday, 14 August 2017

Bank Vole feeding in the open

Twice in two days I've come across Bank Voles feeding quite unconcerned out in the open. On each occasion my initial thought was that the animal must be ill but both were able to run for cover when they wanted to. In the photo below a finger was used to push a stalk of grass out of the way and I've left the finger in to show how close we were able to get to it. I'm assuming both animals were very young and perhaps freshly emerged from the nest.
Bank Vole

Kestrel and Sparrowhawk

Kestrels and Sparrowhawks generally appear to get on pretty well together or at least tolerate each others presence so it was unusual today to see a pair of Kestrel in aerial acrobatics with a Sparrowhawk for several minutes today. 
The Kestrels looked like an adult pair and the Sparrowhawk a young female so it my just have been high spirits of the youngster that triggered the interaction.
Kestrels and Sparrowhawk

Red Grouse family on Beeley Moor

The Red Grouse is quite scarce on Beeley Moor so I was pleased to see a male with three youngsters today. I've stated before that numbers have declined during the past couple of decades and I'd be surprised if there are more than five pairs in the Beeley Moor area. 
I've no idea why the numbers are so low. Its a good while since I've seen shooting on the moors so I'm sure that is not the reason. Although numbers may well have been higher when they were managed for shooting. Red Grouse are susceptible to a number of diseases and parasites so that may be a factor.
Whatever the reason it would be a sad day if they were lost from the moors.
The flowering heather looks amazing at the moment.
Red Grouse male with juvenile

Sunday, 6 August 2017

Juveniles on the wing

I've mentioned previously that Green Woodpecker is a scarce bird in the area so I was pleased yesterday to see a juvenile on 70 Acre Plantation I also had a very smart juvenile Wheatear in the same area which is the first of the birds that pass through during the late summer and autumn. Although the Wheatear breeds as close as Harrington they are a very scarce breeder around Beeley.
Green Woodpecker - juvenile
Wheatear - 1st winter
On Friday I had the very unusual sighting of a Little Egret flying across Harewood Moor. Perhaps heading towards Carsington where there are at least 6 at the moment. Amazing how the numbers of Little Egret have increased in the UK in the last few years. 
Poor photo but an interesting record.
Little Egret

Tuesday, 1 August 2017

Broad-leaved Helleborine - Via Gellia

Having finally caught up with Dark-red Helleborine I decided to do a further search for that plant in the Via Gellia. It's a bit late really as it mainly flowers in the month of July but I did find several examples of its close, and much commoner, relative the Broad-leaved Helleborine.
The Broad-leaved Helleborine flowers from July to September so any helleborines seen from now onwards are likely to be Broad-leaved.

Broad-leaved Helleborine
The colour of the flower varies considerably, some were almost white whilst others were quite pink but never as red as the Dark-red Helleborine. I have seen it several times in Clough Wood and looking at the Derbyshire Flora map it has been recorded quite widely in the dales around the confluence of the rivers Wye and Derwent.
Distribution of Broad-leaved Helleborine from the Derbyshire Flora

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