Thursday, 31 January 2013

Willow Tit - Ogston Reservoir

James visited Ogston today with apprentice wildlife photographer Eric (Pez) O'Connor, on this occasion the apprentice came away with the accolades for this fine portrait of a Willow Tit.
Willow Tit
There has been much debate about the separation of Willow and Marsh Tits in recent years with features such as the generally more extensive black bib and dull rather than glossy cap previously attributed to Willow Tit now thought to be unreliable features to separate the pair.The uniformly pale ear coverts and side of the face are a feature of Willow Tit whilst a significant proportion of Marsh Tits have a pale spot close to the nostril on the bill. The pale wing panel is also still considered indicative of Willow other than that it's down to call.
Both species have suffered a serious population decline and are on the UK's Red List of species of conservation concern.
Locally around Darley Dale there is usually the odd record each year around Flash Lane.
I'd be interested to hear of any local records of either species, I understand the Marsh Tit is still regularly seen in gardens by the river at Monsal Head.
The Red-necked Grebe was still present but distant.

Sunday, 27 January 2013

Foot It - update 27th Jan

Common Gull in the foreground
Amazingly all the snow disappeared last night and created some flooded areas at Flatts Farm between Darley Dale and Darley Bridge which were ideal for feeding gulls. It took me twenty minutes or so of scanning through the Black-head's before finding a Common Gull. Shortly afterwards a party of Lesser Black-back's went over with a at least one adult Herring Gull.
Two more species for the January Foot It list takes me to a nice round 80 species. With the last weekend of the month gone there will be little chance to get out during the week but there is still an outside chance of Linnet, Kingfisher or even Pink-footed Goose which I'm still missing.

Saturday, 26 January 2013

Goshawk - juvenile

I walked about 20 miles again today but was unable to add any new species to my Foot It list. This juvenile Goshawk however more than made up for it. 
News that Roger Carrington and Ken Smith had seen Kingfisher on the River this morning gives me some hope for tomorrow.
Goshawk juvenile

Reed Bunting - Beeley Moor

Whilst all the other passerines on the moor have been in rapid decline since the first snowfall the number of Reed Bunting has steadily increased. today I counted over 200 in a single flock on the Triangle. 
Reed Bunting

Fallow Deer - Chatsworth

We had around 10cm of snow fall last night so there was some great scenery today but getting around was a little difficult. These Fallow Deer at Chatsworth make a good comparison with the photo taken near Stanton last weekend.
Fallow Deer

Thursday, 24 January 2013

Red Grouse - Derwent Edge

James has been to Derewent Edge overlooking Ladybower Reservoir where he took this photograph of a male Red Grouse calling in the snow. He came across a single large flock which he estimated at 50 birds, there are more photos on The WildLive web site in the birds gallery. I'm still not seeing many grouse on Beeley or East Moor.
Red Grouse - male

Monday, 21 January 2013

Rooks in a snow laden tree

There is a lot of snow on the trees at the moment which is creating some spectacular scenery. This old oak is by the railway line between Darley and Rowsley.
Rooks in a snow laden tree


The last few days of snow, with more last night is forcing more birds in to the local gardens. A short walk this afternoon produced Redwing and Fieldfare, which are winter visitors, mixed with local Song Thrushes in the gardens plus 3 Waxwing and a Brambling.


Song Thrush in the snow

Song Thrush

Sunday, 20 January 2013

Foot It - update 20th Jan

Lesser Black-backed Gull
Walked up on to the moors via Halldale Wood then across the fields to Screetham Lane before heading back past Wragg's Quarry and the Lumb Lane bridleway. Very few birds on the moor apart from the Bullfinchs that feed along the dry stone walls, I counted 23. A handfull of finches but no sign of the elusive Linnet. The list got a boost as I neared home and a loose group of 5 Lesser Black-backed Gulls flew slowly up the valley.
Foot It list is 78 species with just one weekend to go.

Darley Dale from Hall Moor Road

The view across the valley towards Clough Wood, with the lights of the Enthoven plant just below, as I set off this morning.
Darley Dale

Badger sett

Surprising, to me at least, the amount of Badger activity around a local sett over the last couple days. I would have thought given the weather and temperature they would be hibernating but four other entrances to this sett showed plenty of foot prints in the snow.
Badger sett

Saturday, 19 January 2013

Foot It - update 19th Jan...Peregrine at last!

Peregrine Falcon
Another long walk, around 15 miles today which in the snow was quite hard work. Finally I have added Peregrine to the list which I was getting a little worried about.
There were some signs of cold weather movement with a few Lapwing around, several parties of Wood Pigeon, a couple of Meadow Pipits and a male Stonechat that must have left the moor.
My total is now 77 species for the month of January.

Fallow Deer

I came across this small group of Fallow Deer hinds by the Youlgreave Road. These are melanics, part of the herd which originated from Stanton Hall in the 1940's and which are usually in the Stanton -  Darley Bridge area.
Fallow Deer

Common Buzzard

Although it has been a very grey day today the snow on the ground has helped to light up the underside of this nicely marked Common Buzzard.
Common Buzzard

Friday, 18 January 2013

Robin in the snow

It has snowed fairly consistently all day to day and I have just over 3 inches of snow in the garden. It does provide some great photo opportunties, like this Robin and it is ideal Foot It weather. At least on the basis that it's not going to be easy to drive anywhere, but it will be a challenge to find new species but I'll see how I get on. 
Still got the two gulls; Common and Lesser black-back, Peregrine, Kingfisher and Linnet to find and the adverse weather may push something more interesting in to the valley!
Robin in the snow

Tuesday, 15 January 2013

Foot It - update 15th Jan

Tonight was Owl night, I'd been putting it off as a long walk in darkness is not that appealing but all went well  and I added both Little Owl and Barn Owl. The latter was particularly pleasing as there are not many pairs in the area and even fewer within a reasonable walking distance. No photos I'm afraid as the light had gone by the time they appeared.
My Foot It list total inreases to 76 with a few species still to go for in the remaining days of January. Ken Smith found a Pink-footed Goose in fields between Matlock and Darley testerday but no sign today.

Bittern - Wyver Lane

Wyver Lane, Belper is well off-piste for me but James, my eldest son, was down there today and saw and photographed his first Bittern! It wasn't close but still a nice record shot of a very rare visitor to the Derwent Valley. There is a blog covering the area run by Dave Newcombe Derwent Valley Birder which has regular updates on local bird sightings. 
There are currently two birds there following the first report on around 2 Jan.


Sunday, 13 January 2013

Foot It - update 13 Jan

Another long walk, I had a single Waxwing at the Enthoven Works then a Green Woodpecker calling at Stanton Lees was unexpected. Nice views of a Common Buzzard nearby and a Tawny Owl sat out in the sunshine at Stanton-in-Peak was a real bonus (photos below). It was a beautiful day but I struggled to add anything more to the list until finally a small party of Feral Pigeon near home.
January Foot It total 74 species.

Tawny Owl - Stanton-in-Peak

Tawny Owl

Common Buzzard - Stanton Lees

Common Buzzard

Darley Dale from Stanton Lees

Darley Dale

Saturday, 12 January 2013

Foot It - update 12th Jan

Crossbill - another distinctive silouette
I've definately entered the realms of the laws of diminishing returns. I walked for about 12 miles today and added just two species. That does get me to my target of 72 species, all seen on foot during the month of January so I'm not complaining.

Today's species were nice birds; Crossbill, a party of 9 on Flash Lane which included some fine red males and a female Goshawk. Apologies for the photos but the birds were a long way off!

Goshawk - female
A call from Ken Smith alerted me to the presence of 2 Common Gulls with Black-headed Gulls near Darley Bridge but by the time I managed to get there all the gulls had gone.

There are still quite a few species to go for during the remainder of the month. Several skeins of Pink-footed Geese have been seen in the last few days so they are a possibility. Ken and Roger Carrington had a party of 12 Linnet on Screetham Lane today so that's one I should get and Peregrine and Feral Dove should be added to the list and surely the elusive Lesser Black-backed Gull and Kingfisher will make the list before the month end.

Tuesday, 8 January 2013

Foot It -update 8th Jan

Waxwing - there's no mistaking this silouette
With an update from Clive Ashton that the Waxwing were still present at the Enthoven Plant in Darley Bridge yesterday I set off at 7am for what is about a half hour walk from home. Arriving in the dark there was little to see but I could hear a fairly constant stream of Pied Wagtails leaving their roost at the plant. An hour later and still no sign I had to leave but just as I was passing the line of lorries queing to enter the plant I caught the distinctive call and saw 9 birds sat in the top of a Poplar by the site entrance. Species number 70 for my Foot It list. 
A pair of Gooseander on the Whitworth pond but still no Kinfisher.

Sunday, 6 January 2013

Foot It - update 6th Jan

Mute Swan - at last!
My original plan for today was to follow the River Derwent in to Matlock and back, aiming for Snipe, Peregrine and Kingfisher. However, reports of up to 10 Hawfinch at Cromford Meadows was too good to miss so I added on the extra miles, and consequently increased my chances of Kingfisher, or so I thought.
I made a good start with Snipe by the A6 and arrived at Cromford just in time to see 13 Hawfinch flying off down the valley so no chance of a photo.
Wigeon - male and female
A chance meeting with Cromford birder Clive Ashton and a discussion about the species I was missing led to Clive directing me to Cromford Pond for Mute Swan, a species I had almost given up on having failed to find the usual pair north of Rowsley. Whilst at Cromford Pond I noticed a couple of duck flying over quite high and assumed they would be Mallard, but they did look rather slim - a pair of Wigeon which was quite unexpected they circled the pond once and headed off in the Carsington Reservoir direction.

So four additional species today takes me to 69 which is 96% of my estimated total of 72 for the month. Still missing Peregrine and no sign of Kingfisher at all today which was disappointing. Clive has still being seeing Waxwings by the Enthoven Plant at Darley Bridge and Ken Smith has had several sightings of Crosbill and Woodcock over the weekend and I'm sure a Lesser Black-backed Gull will fly over the house before the end of the month so still a few species to aim for. 

Saturday, 5 January 2013

Foot It - Update 5th Jan

Dipper - singing

Had a good walk this morning, continuing with my efforts to see as many birds as possible during the month of January on foot. Set off at first light heading for the Stancliffe Hall Hotel grounds which produced the expected Stock Doves, and a Lesser Redpoll flew over which was handy. 

Little Grebe
I then carried on to Rowsley adding Grey Wagtail, came across a couple of pairs of displaying Dipper and caught up with Little Grebe which I was a little concerned about as it is not particulary easy to see on the river.

Then heading up to Beeley Moor I was relieved to add the Great Grey Shrike, a species which is unlikely to feature on many Foot It lists I think. A little further on I added a pair of Stonechat which I first saw just before Christmas.
Great Grey Shrike

I added Tawny Owl on Thursday evening and a further ten species today bringing my toal to 65 species.

Species added today were;
Stock Dove - Stancliffe Hall & Bent Lane
Lesser Redpoll - Whitworth Road
Grey Wagtail - Rowsley
Redwing - several Rowsley sidings
Little Grebe - Caudwells Mill Rowsley
Greenfinch - 5 + Peak Village
Great Grey Shrike - Wraggs Quarry
Stonechat -pair  Beeley Moor
Lapwing - single flock of about 50 went NW
Goldfinch - 10+ home

I've seen most of the relatively easy to see birds so the numbers will only creep up from now on I think. Target birds for tomorrow are Snipe, Kingfisher and Peregrine and I may have a walk round for Little Owl later today.

Thursday, 3 January 2013

First Moths of the Year

Whilst the mild, damp weather is no help to bird watchers it does encourage the first moths of the year to take to the wing. 
Last night I caught 5 moths of two species, the Pale Brindled Beauty and 4 Red-green Carpet. The female Pale Brindled Beauty is flightless and therefore much harder to locate than the males which readily come to light.
Pale Brindled Beauty

Reg-green Carpet

The Red-green Carpet is one of a small group of moths that flies as an adult in the Autumn then the females over winter prior to egg laying in the Spring. This individual is now quite worn but you can come across fresh looking specimens right through to Spring, compare with this specimen taken in February 2011. This is also a moth which has become increasingly common in Derbyshire in the last decade.
Red-green Carpet

Tuesday, 1 January 2013

Foot It Challenge - 1st January

Spent the whole of today walking my area in the Foot It Challenge (see Blog 20th December for details) accompanied for much of the route by Andy Littler. I did 20 miles in total and managed 54 species of my target of 72 for the month of January. So, 75% of my estimated total of 72 is not a bad start.
First the highlights; pride of place goes to an adult male Merlin on Beeley Moor, other species I hadn't expected were Teal, Tufted Duck, Goldeneye and Greylag Goose. I also managed a few of the species that could be tricky such as Sparrowhawk, Treecreeper, Bullfinch and just one Red Grouse.
On the negative side no sign of the Great Grey Shrike but hopefully I'll pick this up next weekend. I also missed Greenfinch, Goldfinch, Linnet and Little Grebe! So there is still plenty to go for.

This is the full list from today.
Cormorant - 2 Rowsley
Grey Heron - Rowsley
Canada Goose, Emperor Lake and Rowsley
Greylag Goose - 2 on small pool by Swiss Lake
Mandarin - 1 drake Rowsley
Mallard - many
Teal - 9 Swiss Lake Chatsworth
Tufted Duck - 2 males, 3 females Swiss Lake
Goldeneye - 1 male Swiss Lake
Gooseander - 12 Emperor Lake, Chatsworth
Buzzard - Whitesprings plantation
Sparrowhawk - 1 from home as I set off
Kestrel - 1 Flash Lane
Merlin - 1 male Beeley Moor
Red Grouse - 1 Beeley Moor
Pheasant - many
Moorhen - several along the rivers
Coot - many
Black-headed Gull - many Chatsworth
Wood Pigeon - many
Collared Dove - 2 Rowsley
Great Spotted Woodpecker - 1 Whitesprings plantation
Skylark - 2 Screetham Lane
Meadow Pipit - 1 off Screetham Lane, 1 Beeley Moor
Pied Wagtail - 1 Screetham Lane
Wren - several
Dipper - 1 Rowsley
Dunnock - several
Robin - several
Song Thrush - 1 Rowsley in song
Fieldfare - several Chatsworth
Mistle Thrush - 1 Rowsley
Blackbird - several
Goldcrest - several Halldale Wood
Great Tit - several
Coal Tit - several
Blue Tit - several
Long-tailed Tit several parties Chatsworth
Nuthatch - 2 Halldale Wood
Tree Creeper - 1 Chatsworth
Magpie - several
Jay - 2 Halldale Wood
Jackdaw - many
Rook - many Screetham Lane
Carrion Crow - several Screetham Lane
Raven - 2 from home and 2 Beeley
Starling - 1 Screetham Lane
House Sparrow - several Beeley and Rowsley villages
Chaffinch - many
Brambling - at least 6 Screetham Lane but no sign of the flock
Siskin - several
Bullfinch - 2 females and a male Flash Lane
Reed Bunting - several Screetham Lane
Yellowhammer 6 Rowsley Bar Road nr Screetham junction

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