Monday, 31 December 2012

Last Shrike of the year

In driving rain and wind that made it difficult for the shrike to stay on its post and with an overcast sky producing a permanent sensation of dusk I took my last photo of the Great Grey Shrike in 2012 at Wragg's Quarry this morning. 
Unless the sky clears and the sun comes out this afternoon of course!
Great Grey Shrike

Sunday, 30 December 2012

Brambling - Screetham Lane

The photos are of a mixed finch feeding flock on Screetham Lane numbering several hundered birds, the photos show mainly Brambling which look to number around 100, along with a similar number of Chaffinch.. There are also 50-60 Yellowhammer and 20 Reed Bunting loosely associated with this flock as well as several Skylark.


Wednesday, 26 December 2012

Common Buzzard

There was a brief respite from the rain and overcast skies this morning. This Common Buzzard drifted over Chatsworth and the Great Spotted Woodpeckers appeared to be enjoying it with a male and two females together on Bent Lanes before the rain commenced again early afternoon.
Common Buzzard

Great Spotted Woodpecker

Great Spotted Woodpecker

Sunday, 23 December 2012

Common Gull

It rained more or less all day yesterday and the river Derwent has burst its banks in several places producing a large number of flooded fields. Yesterday I had a party of 20 Mandarin Duck which is a good count locally plus at least 150 Pied Wagtails feeding on the wet fields. There was a single Common Gull with Black-headed Gulls in flooded fields in Darley Darley today. I see a few Common Gulls during the winter and occasionally in the Spring.
Common Gull with Black-headed Gulls

Friday, 21 December 2012

Moth Trapping Totals 2012

I'm not expecting any significant moth catches now and have just totalled up this years records.
I ran the trap on 138 days and caught a total of 4223 macro moths of 211 species and just 54 micro moths of 27 species. 
My worst year ever! Which isn't too surprising given the amount of rain in the early summer but already looking forward to 2013.
The highlight for me was trapping Devon Carpet again at Clough Wood in the Spring with Brian Statham which must indicate that there is an established colony there having first taken it in late August 2011. This would be the first breeding record of the species for Derbyshire.

Thursday, 20 December 2012

Foot It Challenge

I've entered the birding Foot It Challenge - record as many species as you can whilst travelling only on foot in your local area during the month of January. In order to level the playing field you specify how many species you think you can see and your score is the percentage achieved, obviously relies on a high degree of honesty but it is just for fun. I'm targeting 72 species which I think is realistic and this is the area I'll be covering.

Well it should ensure I get a bit of excercise and encourage me to visit some areas off the beaten track. I'll update as January progresses.

Monday, 17 December 2012

Grey Squirrel - Bent Lane

I took this photograph of a Grey Squirrel yesterday but have spent today photographing Red Squirrels with James, Ali Hood and James Shooter near Hawes in North Yorkshire, on the Snaizeholme Trail, I've put a few photos on  my Flickr site. I'm sure that James and Ali will have more photos on their web site shortly with an account of the day which was quite eventful.
The Red Squirrel disappeared from Derbyshire in the late 1990's from it's final recorded location in the Upper Derwent Valley, ironically the increase in Goshawk populations was thought to be one factor in their final demize. The Grey arrived in the 1940's and is widespread throughout the County, I occasionally see them in the few birch trees on the very edge of the moors.
Grey Squirrel

Sunday, 16 December 2012

Kestrel take off

This male Kestrel had clearly seen something, he was certainly staring very intently as he took off. I think they probably spend more time hunting from the top of a bush than they do using the characteristic hover. Unfortunately it was in the shade but still looks OK.

Kestrel - male

Saturday, 15 December 2012

Goshawk juvenile

Distant views of a juvenile Goshawk today, probably the same bird I saw on 15th September so it's good to see it doing well in its first winter. The photos were taken with the Canon 300 2.8 lens plus x2 III converter, it was just visible with the naked eye so the images are not bad considering. 
Still a few Waxwing around Costcutters in Darley Dale this evening. A party of 8 male Gooseander at Chatsworth courting a single female and a pair of Pintal flew over which is a good record for the valley. The Great Grey Shrike was still at Wragg's Quarry this morning.

Goshawk - juvenile

Sunday, 9 December 2012

Great Spotted Woodpecker - portrait

It's been fairly miserable weather today, there were still several small parties of Waxwing around in Darley Dale, Peak Village and at Enthoven's. Had a look for the Little Egret early on but didn't see it. This Great Spotted Woodpecker and the two photos below were taken in yesterday's sunshine.
Great Spotted Woodpecker

Long-tailed Tit

Another photo taken in yesterday's sunshine.
Long-tailed Tit


Taken in yesterday's sunshine, it landed no more than 4m away from me and I got a couple of photos as it quickly departed. This one shows off the blue primary and outer greater wing coverts well.

Saturday, 8 December 2012

Little Egret - Rowsley

Another good find for Ken Smith and Mel Hayes this morning, a Little Egret just north of Rowsley feeding in the drainage ditches towards Congreave. This is my first for the area and also Ken's but with Little Egrets now turning up regularly at Ogston and Carsington it's not entirely unexpected. It was still feeding quite happily early afternoon.

Little Egret

Thursday, 6 December 2012

Curbar sunrise

James took this photo at the weekend which is remarkable both for the quality of the image and the fact that he was up early enough to catch the sunrise!
He and Ali have got a new service provider for their website, The WildLive, and have spent quite a while recently updating it.
Curbar sunrise

Sunday, 2 December 2012

House Sparrow - Youlgrave

Despite suffering a UK population decline of 70% in the last 25 to 30 years the House Sparrow is still a familiar and common species in the villages of the Peak District. It does seem to be restricted to the village habitat and is not regularly encountered in arable areas. 
The male immediately below is already loosing the pale tips to the feathers on the upper breast to reveal the black bib of breeding plumage.
The two males on the branch are also both males with the lower bird more advanced towards breeding plumage and having already lost the yellowish coloured bill of winter.

House Sparrow - males

Saturday, 1 December 2012


The day started overcast and with steady rain but by late morning the sun was breaking through and by early afternoon clear blue skies. The Great Grey Shrike was around Wraggs Quarry and still parties of Waxwing in Darley Dale.
 I watched a shooting party on East Moor which didn't look to be having much success they disturbed very few grouse but did put up a Short-eared Owl several times as they crossed the moor. 
This female Kestrel was on the edge of the moor which was more intent on finding its next meal than my photography.
Kestrel - female

Long-tailed Tits

Definitely one of my favourite birds, I came across a party of about a dozen birds moving quickly through the trees this morning, it was still very over cast so I only managed 1/200 shutter speed.

Long-tailed Tit

More Waxwing

There were still at least 40 Waxwing behind Costcutter in Darley Dale and with the sun shinning this afternoon it was impossible to resit taking a few more photos.


Tuesday, 27 November 2012

Goosander - Whitworth Park

For at least the past couple of days there have been two or three Goosander on the small pond in the Whitworth Park in Darley Dale. I assume they have taken to feeding on the small fish in the pond due to the high volume of water in the River Derwent and consequent lack of visibility in the water.
Although the Goosander is generally a rather shy bird they can be very confiding on occasion at regular feeding places such as by the bridge in Bakewell.
James took this photo at close to dusk.
Goosander - male

Saturday, 24 November 2012

Temperature inversion

One of the great things about living on the side of a valley is that, during the autumn, mist is often trapped in the base of the valley. Not only does this give some great photo opportunities but it is often possible to get out of the mist in to sunshine by ascending just a couple of hundred metres. It was like that this morning.


Steppe Shrike?

For at least two weeks there were two Great Grey Shrikes on Beeley Moor, the regular bird around Wraggs Quarry and a second bird found by Ken Smith close to Beeley Triangle.
The upper photo is the Wraggs Quarry bird taken this morning and the lower photos is Ken's shot of the Beeley Triangle bird. The latter has pale tips to the greater coverts (or base to the secondaries?), more extensive pale tips to the scapulars and the rump looks noticeably paler than the mantle it also has a more extensive pale base to the bill, it was last reported last weekend. 
The lower bird shows some of the characteristics of the race 'homeyeri' known as Steppe Shrike and is similar to the bird seen in the Sheffield area in 2010.
I've added a couple of shots of the tail which Ken has kindly forwarded on - it looks like the penultimate feathers are black at the base which is more like excubitor than homeyeri.

Great Grey Shrike Wraggs Quarry

Great Grey Shrike showing features of race homeyeri  (photo Ken Smith)

Saturday, 17 November 2012

Waxwing numbers increasing

At least 80 Waxwing in Darley Dale today although the light was terrible this morning when I saw them. I don't think the berries will last long if the numbers stay at this level. The Great Grey Shrike was still around Wraggs Quarry.


Thursday, 15 November 2012

Autumnal Moth

After the flurry of November Moth records which for me start in early to mid-October and peak towards the end of the month they are quite scarce again before the first of the Autumnal Moths appear in early to mid-November.
This is a well marked example with the distinct discal mark well separated from the post-median fascia which  is sharply angled around it.
In total I caught 34 moths of 11 species last night which included 3 Scarce Umber and a single December Moth.
Autumnal Moth

Tuesday, 13 November 2012

Acleris hyemana

I catch Acleris hyemana occasionally but usually in the late winter after the species has hybernated when they are generally very worn, compare with this Acleris hyemena February 2011The adults emerge from September onwards so this one is relatively fresh, it's a moorland species and a dare say I would catch it in good numbers if I trapped on the moor at this time of year.
Acleris hyemana

Sunday, 11 November 2012

More Waxwing

Actually the same Waxwing but this morning it was a clear blue sky and the 9 Waxwing were still by Costcutter on the A6 so a much better opportunity for photographs. I also saw 22 by the Enthovens factory and the Great Grey Shrike ar Wraggs Quarry so not a bad outing before breakfast.


Saturday, 10 November 2012

Waxwings - Darley Dale

I'd noted on Thursday that there was a widespread arrival of Waxwings down the East coast. Initially they were parties of threes and fours but by afternoon there were larger groups and more inland records. On Friday there were reports of small flocks in Bakewell and Belper so I wasn't entirely surprised when I got a message from  Alan Stewardson that he had seen a small party by Costcutters on the A6. 
I got down there for first light this morning and quickly located 9 birds either sat in the tops of the Lime trees on the A6 or feeding on Rowan berries behind the store. the light was terrible but I managed some reasonable shots before heading off to photograph the Grey Seals at Donna Nook.
What a fantastic bird the Waxwing is, hopefully they will stay around for a while. A party of 20 was also reported by the Enthoven factory this afternoon.


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