Sunday, 31 March 2013

Goshawk - male

Had a lucky encounter with a male Goshawk over the moor this morning. It was rather distant and didn't hang around so I was lucky to get a record shot. The extensive black on the ear coverts identify this as a male. The absence of dark barring on the flight feathers is a good distinguishing feature from Sparrowhawk, particularly if you can't judge the size. Compare with the female Sparrowhawk below taken a few days ago.

Goshawk - male

Hare in the woods

The local Hares are difficult to see during the winter and it may be that they spend more time in the forested areas rather than the open fields and are therefore more easily overlooked. I had just started to see one or two in the fields prior to the snow, this individual was quite happily feeding in the wood but it was impossible to get a clear view.
Brown Hare

Friday, 29 March 2013

Osprey - Rowsley

Simon Roddis has claimed the first Osprey of the year, he came across it carrying a fish on the Derwent just north of Rowsley at about 10am. I was there about an hour later and had what could have been it or a second bird flying up the river heading north quite high.

Great Grey Shrike singing

I was surprised, given the amount of snow we have had, that the Great Grey Shrike was still on the moor this morning. It was very conspicuous as it was singing all the time I was there and the warbling song carries quite a distance. Other than a single Curlew and a couple of Meadow Pipits the moor was very quiet.
Great Grey Shrike

Wednesday, 27 March 2013

Short-eared Owl - Elton Common

James and Ali encountered this Short-eared Owl this evening between Winster and Pike Hall just as the sun was setting. It's the first Short-eared Owl I am aware of in the area for many months and is probably a bird heading north to the moors having over wintered in the Midlands somewhere. It could hang around if it can find a reasonable hunting area.
Short-eared Owl

Tuesday, 26 March 2013

Water Vole - Cromford Canal

James got nice views of this Water Vole at Cromford Canal this afternoon. Good to see that the snow and prolonged sub-zero temperatures haven't caused any problems for them.
Water Vole

Sparrowhawk female

A pair of Sparrowhawk came together briefly, either in aerial combat or display, but I only managed to capture one of the birds, before they quickly flew off in opposite directions. The photo benefiting from the strong under lighting from the snow.

Sparrowhawk - female

Buzzard nesting activity

The sunnier weather has prompted the local Buzzards to start the breeding cycle in earnest now with birds displaying and carrying nesting material. Also came across the bird below carrying the hind quarters of a rabbit which I presume he will present to his chosen female. 
The snow on the ground is a big help in lighting the underside when photographing flying birds from below.

Common Buzzard

Saturday, 23 March 2013

Mistle Thrush in snow

Back at home this Mistle Thrush didn't look too happy in the snow, I would imagine it probably has a nest by now.
Mistle Thrush

Sheep in snow

The light snow in the valley floating vertically down is in sharp contrast to the moor where the snow is blowing horizontally and feels like needles. There were drifts over 3 feet deep on Bent Lane. The sheep didn't look like they were enjoying it too much either! No sign of the Shrike, or anything but that wasn't too surprising.

Whitworth Park

It has continued to snow since yesterday evening and there is now about 9 inches of snow in the garden. Walked round the Whitworth which looked very picturesque but not many birds.
Whitworth Park

Friday, 22 March 2013

Bullfinch in the garden

Three Bullfinch, a male and two females, spent all day in the garden feeding on the buds of our Hawthorn hedge. 
It has snowed on and off all day and quite heavily during the last couple of hours. Prospects for a Wheatear tomorrow are very low I think!


Crossbill Flash Lane

We have had very few sightings of Crossbill so far this year so Ken Smith did well not only to locate two fine red males but also to get some excellent photographs.
Common Crossbill male (photo Ken Smith)

Sunday, 17 March 2013

Mandarin Duck Rowsley

I came across these two males and a female Mandarin Duck by the river at Rowsley. It looks odd to see them in the Alder tree but Mandarin are a tree nesting duck so must spend some time in the trees. A third male joined them at which point the branch broke and they flew off up river.

Mandarin Duck

Saturday, 16 March 2013

Lesser Scaup Ogston Reservoir

Stills feels more like Winter than Spring on the moors with reasonable numbers of Fieldfare and the Great Grey Shrike still present this morning but at least 8 Curlew and 51 Golden Plover at Upperloads are indications that Spring is on its way.
News that Steve Mann had found a first winter male Lesser Scaup at Ogston Reservoir certainly brightened the day. This is the first Derbyshire record of this North American duck. That fact that it has turned up now is probably an indication that it is migrating northwards, but on the wrong side of the Atlantic having arrived in Europe last autumn.
Lesser Scaup 

Saturday, 9 March 2013

Little Owl - Bonsall

Cold, wet and misty today so not very pleasant. I heard my first Curlews of the Spring on the moor this morning but couldn't see them in thick mist, the first reports of them back on the moor were last Saturday (2nd March ) with odd sightings during the week.
A tour round Bonsall Moor produced this nice Little Owl and a pair of Dipper were busy nest building on the river but not much else.

Little Owl

Wednesday, 6 March 2013

Pale Pinion

Added Pale Pinion and Hebrew Character to the years moth list last night. I didn't catch Pale Pinion last year and generally only catch one or two at best so it's a good start to the year. It's one of a relatively small group of moths which over winter as an adult.
Pale Pinion

Peregrine - Belper

James called in at the mill at Belper yesterday and took a few photos of the Peregrines. If they are successful this year there should be plenty of photo opportunities in the coming months. Access is much better than the local quarries although the mill building is not a great background!


Sunday, 3 March 2013


From the behaviour of the local Ravens at their nest it looks like they probably already have young in the nest, although I couldn't see them in the typically deep structure. They seemed quite happy to leave the nest for 5 or 10 mins during changeovers. It won't be long before they are sat on top of the nest if all goes well.


Two new moths for the year - Dotted Border & March

The slightly warmer temperature has encouraged a few moths to fly. In addition to Pale Brindled Beauty I caught Dotted Border and March Moth last night, taking the year total to 7 species.
Dotted Border

March Moth - right on cue

First March Moth of the year last night.
March Moth

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