Saturday, 23 February 2013

A morning with Red Grouse

Mountain Hare
I did the usual walk this morning up Flash Lane to Beeley Moor with Ken Smith, Roger Carrington and Mel Hayes, it was very quiet but we did have one Red Grouse on the edge of the moor. James was interested in trying for Mountain Hare up at Ladybower so he and I made the short trip to Cutthroat Bridge then on to the moor. 
We did manage distant views of a single Mountain Hare in its all white winter coat but soon lost it and didn't manage any better photographs.
There were plenty of Red Grouse however, which showed very well and a few snow flurries added to the scene.
I find it increasingly difficult to accept the view that there are good numbers of Red Grouse on Beeley Moor but they are not visible because the population is not so high that the grouse are in competition with each other.

Red Grouse

Wednesday, 20 February 2013

Grey Partridge in the snow

I've been away for a week in the French Alps but Ken Smith sent me this nice portrait of a Grey Partridge in the fields bordering Beeley Moor. It's been almost a year since I've seen Grey Partridge locally although Ken had a pair last August, they are only present in small numbers and I guess easily overlooked in the arable areas adjoining the moor.
Grey Partridge (photo Ken Smith)

Saturday, 9 February 2013

Waxwings still around

A very grey day today but brightened up by a party of Waxwing which still keep turning up around Darley Dale. Today a party of 35 spent much of the day opposite the Whitworth Hotel feeding in one of the few remaining Rowan trees with berries.


Mistle Thrush

A pair of Mistle Thrushes aggresively defended the tree driving off the Waxwing almost as soon as they landed. 
Mistle Thrush

Merlin - male

Ken Smith took these great shots of a fine adult male Merlin during the week, this may be the bird first seen on the last day of December so could have been in the area for a while. In the harder weather it would probably follow the smaller birds  and leave the moors, so it could have spent some time in the valley.

Merlin - male

Friday, 1 February 2013

Spring Usher

The warmer weather has produced a few moths; my first Chestnut on Wednesday along with 5 Pale Brindled Beauty and this evening the first Spring Usher of the year. I usually only catch two or three Spring Usher so its good to get one right at the start of their flight period.
Spring Usher
The National press has covered the publication today of 'The State of Britain's Larger Moths' which records a 40% decline in moth populations in southern Britain in the last 40 years and an 11% decline in northern Britain over the same period. The difference is attributed to the scale of habitat loss in the south and species moving northwards in response to climate change.

Across Britain, the total abundance of larger moths declined significantly, by 28%, during the 40-year period from 1968 to 2007. 
The full report is available from Butterfly Conservation.

Foot It - final update

No more species added after last weekend so I ended the challenge on 80 species in January, all seen on foot, which I'm very happy with. I did try for Linnet during the last days of the month but the wind made it impossible. Apart from Linnet there were just four other species seen by other birders locally and missed by me; Kingfisher, Woodcock, Pink-footed Goose and Golden Plover.
I thoroughly enjoyed the experience, got plenty of excercise and visited local places I have seldom been to.
Highlights were the Great Grey Shrike, Merlin, Hawfinch, finally bumping in to Crossbill and the unexpected Wigeon. So that's the Foot It Challenge over for now........although it would be interesting to see how I would do in the Summer!
With thanks to Ken Smith, Roger Carrington and Simon Roddis for their assistance.

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