Tuesday, 31 December 2013

Last post of the year

It has rained most of the day so it has been hard work but I've seen Peregrines, Ravens, Tawny Owl and a new bird for the local patch Tree Sparrow with at least 6 with about 30 Yellowhammer at Press Reservoir by the public footpath. Tree Sparrows are found in good numbers at Carsington but these are the first I've seen locally.
Also managed to confirm that the obliging Common Buzzard is feeding mainly on small worms.

I'm sure 2014 will produce some good local sightings, I have a long list of species I would like to see but who knows.
Common Buzzard with worm

Monday, 30 December 2013

Curbar Edge sunset

Another photo of James's taken a couple of evenings ago - another striking image, there are more on his website. Looks like you could almost touch the Highland bull!
Curbar Edge sunset

Saturday, 28 December 2013

Hen Harrier male - Flash Lane

Ken, Roger and I enjoyed an unexpected late Christmas present this morning when we saw a male Hen Harrier. It came up from Whitesprings Plantation, crossed Flash Lane then followed the tree line behind Darwin Forest where it flushed a Woodcock before it was lost to view as it headed towards Screetham Lane. It looked like a full adult male and although it was very distant for photography I managed a couple of record shots. This is my only sighting in the Beeley area this year although there have been a couple of sightings on the moor in the last month which may be of this bird. 

Hen Harrier - male

Friday, 27 December 2013

Herring Gull - Beeley Moor

As I have previously mentioned the Herring Gull is not particularly common locally and there is still a group of about 30 feeding on the flooded field by the Chesterfield Road so this is probably as good a chance as any to get one on the blog.
Herring Gull - adult

Little Grebe - Cromford Canal

It would be interesting to count how many pairs of Little Grebe there are on Cromford Canal, it looks like there is a pair every 50 metres or so. I'll do the walk and count in the early Spring I think.
It's certainly a great place to photograph them although the weather was poor today. No sign of any Water Vole today.
Little Grebe

Mistletoe - Cromford by River Derwent

This is my first record of Mistletoe in Derbyshire so it's quite fitting that I should come across it during the festive season.
The Flora of Derbyshire by Clapham describes its status as 'occasional' which is repeated in the  Derbyshire City Council - Flora of Derbyshire. The distribution map (reproduced below) shows scattered records mainly in the East of the County. 
I thought the host tree was a Sycamore but not too sure, its right by the roadside next to the river just North of High Peak Junction.
The sun appeared just as I was taking the photo which added a bit of colour.

Misteltoe - fruiting

Mistletoe distribution from Derbyshire Flora website

Thursday, 26 December 2013

Redwing - Darley Dale

There was a nice group of around twenty Redwing with a few Mistle and Song Thrushes feeding in a Rowan, which was laden with berries, early morning but it was very misty in the valley until late morning. Fortunately they were still there after the mist cleared and put on a good show.


Fox with prey

Out early this morning and it had just about got light when I saw this Fox tussling with its prey. Initially I though it was a rabbit or hare but suspect it's something from a sheep carcass. I had just started to move closer when it set off with the prey in its mouth, it soon saw me and was off.


Monday, 23 December 2013

Beeley star trail

It was clear last night and James went on to the moors to photograph a star trail, this is a composite of twenty odd 30 second exposures. 
He thinks he can do better so, weather permitting, he'll be having another go.
Beeley star trail

Sunday, 22 December 2013

Common Buzzard running

Nothing new to report over the last couple of days but a count of 29 Herring Gulls on flooded fields bordering the moor was a record for me, all appeared to be the British race argenteus. Several Raven which are already starting to display are always nice to see.
I walked around Chatsworth again this morning and saw several parties of Crossbill, but none close up, and at least 50 Brambling. 
I had a bit of luck with Ken's Buzzard and got a nice sequence of it running towards me, still not certain what it is eating although Ken has seen it with the odd earth worm.

Common Buzzard

Friday, 20 December 2013

Common Buzzard - Beeley Moor

Here are three more from Ken Smith's camera. Ken has benefited from some sunny spells this week but you still need to be able to find and get close to the birds. Buzzards are surprisingly shy for a species that is now so widespread and regularly encountered in the Peak District. This bird has been feeding on a grassy field, initially I thought it might be after earth worms but that doesn't appear to be the case and it may be crane fly larva (leather jackets). Great photos in any case.
The pale iris and neatly buff fringed upper wing coverts age this bird as a juvenile in its first calendar year.

Common Buzzard (Ken Smith)

Monday, 16 December 2013

Red Grouse - footwear

Ken took this photo during one of the brief sunny spells earlier last week. It's a nice photo for a number of obvious reasons but the most unusual feature for me is that you can clearly see the feet, which are lost in most photos. 
It reminds me of a day a couple of years ago after we had had a deep fresh snow fall. I walked up on to the moor and came across a group of a dozen Red Grouse together. They were walking about quite happily on the snow surface. After they had gone I walked over through deep soft snow thinking that there must be a solid area where they were walking but I could just see the footprints where they had been with hardly any indentation in the soft powder snow. I took a 2p coin from my pocket and put it carefully on the snow surface where it immediately sank - those large feathered feet are the reason, they do a fantastic job of distributing the grouses body weight allowing them to walk on the surface in the freshest snow.
Red Grouse - male (photo Ken Smith)

Saturday, 14 December 2013

Goshawk - Chatsworth

As I was setting off to walk back from Chatsworth I picked up a raptor circling over the trees, I thought it would be another Buzzard but was delighted to see an immature Goshawk circling round before heading off over the trees. It was quite distant but made a reasonable photo in good light.

Goshawk - first winter

Teal take off

After a walk around the moors first thing I walked over to Chatsworth again. The Crossbill and Brambling were still around and the Teal were on Swiss Lake but it was generally quiet. As I approached Swiss Lake I flushed the Teal which made an interesting photo.

Red Grouse in the rain

On Saturday afternoon I was back on the moor but it was very grey and raining quite hard. Ken had mentioned a spot where he has seen Red Grouse feeding on the last of the cranberries so I parked up for a couple of hours and watched this young male Red Grouse feeding in the rain. 
Red Grouse

Kingfisher - Carsington Water

A very grey day on Friday but I spent the morning at Carsington. My photos of Kingfisher were not quite Ken's full frame shots but the Kingfisher with its striking plumage looks OK I think as a smaller bird in the frame to show its habitat. Plenty of Willow Tits and Bullfinches on the feeders made for an interesting morning.

Thursday, 12 December 2013

Sunrise, rain and a research visit to S Yorks

The day started off well with this beautiful sunrise over Great Longstone as I headed out to Snake Pass. By the time I arrived it was raining heavily but I decided to take a walk along the Pennine Way anyway. I found one very damp, dozing Mountain Hare before I gave in and headed back to the car.
I had decided to visit Broomhead Reservoir in South Yorks to have a look for the Two-barred Crossbills. One of the ways of locating them is by the short trumpeting notes they give in flight alongside the more Crossbill like chips. I'm not familiar with this call but felt that if I am to find them locally it would help to hear the call.
There were 7 birds (four males) on show on and off whilst I was there, more off than on, but I did hear the calls on several occasions which certainly are distinctive. They were distant but I did take a record photo.
Sunrise over Great Longstone

Mountain Hare - dozing in the rain

Two-barred Crossbill, male - Broomhead Reservoir

Sunday, 8 December 2013

Goldeneye drake Swiss Lake, Chatsworth

A single drake Goldeneye on Swiss Lake, I had one last winter so it may be the same bird returning for the winter. At least 20 Mandarin on the lake and 160 Pink-footed Geese flew over SW. Just 4 Gooseander on Emperor Lake.
Goldeneye - drake

Record Teal count

This flock of Teal were on the pool by Swiss Lake, I counted 125 which is the largest count I have had in the local area although I have seen a similar number at Middleton Moor recently.

More Crossbills at Chatsworth

This photo is of part of a flock of around 50 feeding on Larch cones on the bottom edge of the clear fell below Park Farm. Most of the time was spent in the Larches but occasionally they flew to this lone Birch tree in the clear fell. Nothing but Common Crossbill as far as I could see.
Common Crossbill

Saturday, 7 December 2013

After the storm

Very little wildlife to report this morning. Several Red Deer on Flash Lane, the usual Stonechat and Ravens on the moor and a party of Golden Plover flying over. 
There is plenty of evidence of tree damage following Wednesday's high winds, some of the conifer plantations have many trees down and some large trees in the river valley have been blown over.
Grass decorating Birch Trees on Beeley Moor

Rowsley from Peak Tor with trees down

Peak Tor tree damage

Tuesday, 3 December 2013

Kingfisher - Carsington Water

Ken and I have spent months looking for a good Kingfisher site locally and although we have seen them regularly on both the rivers Wye and Derwent during the summer we have failed to find a good site for photography.
Ken went to Carsington Water earlier in the week with Roger and came away with photographs of two Kingfisher which shows you have to be in the right place at the right time.

Kingfisher (Ken Smith)

Monday, 2 December 2013

Angle Shades in record moth count

A record for December at least, I caught 35 moths of 5 species last night. It was a balmy 7 Centigrade when I checked the trap at 06:30 this morning. Mottled Umber accounted for 29 with single Scarce Umber, 2 Winter Moth, 2 December Moth and a single Angle Shades which although not uncommon is a striking looking moth. Mainly seen in the summer moths I have caught adults in every month of the year.
Angle Shades

Sunday, 1 December 2013

Mountain Hare - White on black

I went back to Bleaklow again this morning with James and his girlfriend Jacinta. Initially it looked like the weather would be a problem with low cloud but it suddenly cleared and we had a couple of hours of partial sunshine.
James took quite a few photos which I'm sure will appear on James Butler Photography in due course. I took a few photos similar to yesterday but had a lucky encounter when I was walking through a peat hag and I rounded a corner and came across this Mountain Hare illuminated by the only rays of sunlight that had found their way in, the surroundings were in almost complete blackness creating quite a striking photo.
Mountain Hare in the spotlight

Saturday, 30 November 2013

Mountain Hare - Bleaklow

Fantastic day today with blue skies most of the time and a beautiful sunset. I started off at the Middleton Moor Starling roost, another great spectacle but not close enough for any new photos. I then went on to the Snake Pass and lower slopes of Bleaklow for Mountain Hare and had a successful trip. I thought they would still be in the brown summer coat but most showed a lot of white and were well on the way to full their full winter coat. I saw at least 15 in the area I walked along with plenty of Red Grouse and a single Peregrine but the hares were the stars of the day.

Mountain Hares and their habitat

Wednesday, 27 November 2013

Starlings leaving the roost

I've been to the roost at Middleton Moor each day this week. At the weekend someone from Sheffield Bird Study Group counted 118,000 birds which is perhaps the most reliable estimate I have heard. The roost will contain more than this as birds are still arriving after dark.
The numbers leaving the roost this morning looked fewer than previously so maybe they are starting to disperse.
Here are three photos which I hope convey something of the spectacle, you can make your own decision on which works best unless, like my wife Pam, you are fed up of hearing about the Starling roost!

Starlings leaving the roost

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