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

Sunday, 24 November 2013

Winter Moth

With the temperature still at 7 Centigrade at 7:30 pm as I write this there are one or two moths taking to the wing. This is my first Winter Moth of the Autumn. Much smaller than the Northern Winter Moth and darker, particularly on the hind-wing the identification of these species is generally not a problem.
Winter Moth

Starlings leaving the roost at Middleton Moor

I did a short video of the Starlings leaving the roost at Middleton Moor this morning.

If you are planning a trip to see the Starlings leaving the roost then I recommend that you don't watch the video until after you have been as there is nothing quite like being there.

I thought this was amazing and the video clip doesn't really do it justice.

Saturday, 23 November 2013

Starling murmuration

Quite a good day today with Great Grey Shrike, Crossbills and a pair of Stonechat plus several skeins of Pink-footed Geese but heading both SE and NW, which is a little odd, in the morning followed by a visit to Middleton Moor for the Starling roost late afternoon. The Starlings were a little more cooperative flying round a little bit before entering the reed bed.

Starling murmuration

Thursday, 21 November 2013

Estimating Starling roost numbers

It's very difficult estimating the numbers entering the roost at Middleton Moor, birds are flying in almost constantly during the hour before dark. The birds almost immediately enter the reed bed with no real pre-roost flight. I can see why estimates are as high as 100,000. The photo below was part of the largest single group which could by 5,000 birds, the sky darkened as they went overhead. 
Whatever the number its a real spectacle.
Starling flock

Wednesday, 20 November 2013

Starling roost - Middleton Moor

This evening James went to the Starling roost at Middleton Moor. Estimates of the number of birds currently roosting there vary wildly but there are clearly many thousands from James's description. There was no pre-roost display flight but their behaviour probably varies with the weather, still a very impressive sight.

Monday, 18 November 2013

Flame Carpet - an unexpected summer visitor

The flight time of the Flame Carpet is generally quoted as May to August which ties in with my records which sometimes run through to early September with my last record this year on 4th September. It was quite a surprise therefore to find a Flame Carpet in the moth trap this morning. 
It's in good condition suggesting it has emerged in recent days. Studies have shown that the first emergence dates for some species are getting earlier and the last dates later and the Flame Carpet has been quoted as an example of this in Irish phenology studies but 2 months is well outside the norm.
Flame Carpet

Sunday, 17 November 2013

Great Grey Shrike - Farley Moor, another Great Grey?

Ken called me mid-morning to say he was watching a Great Grey Shrike at Farley Moor, did I know if the shrike was still at Wragg's? I was just leaving Chatsworth so drove via Wragg's but for the first time for some while there were no other birders around. I drove round to meet Ken but the shrike had just flown over the tree tops. Walking around the clear fell areas we soon re-found it. Unlike the Wragg's bird whixh appears to be feeding on caterpillars this Great Grey was repeatedly sallying high into the sky to take insects.
I managed to get some photos and it looks like this bird has less white at the base of the primaries and over the eye and bill. We have had two birds around in previous years so it's not a total surprise. Not sure what it was feeding in, a winged insect with quite a fat body and perhaps 1 to 2cm body length - suggestions welcome.

Great Grey Shrike

Common Crossbill - Chatsworth

Although I see crossbills most days when I am around the moor they are usually birds flying over and only advertising their presence by the distinctive chipping call. I came across a small party of 15 birds today in the Larches by the second weir at Chatsworth and managed to get some record shots in very poor light. With there being both Parrot and Two-barred Crossbills in the country there is a chance of finding one of these rarities in the area so any crossbills are worth scrutinising if you get the chance. 
Just as I was leaving Ken called with news of a Great Grey Shrike in Farley Moor, which I'll update above.

Common Crossbill

Saturday, 16 November 2013

Black-headed Gull - Bakewell

It was quiet on the moor this morning so I went up to Bakewell to have a look at the gulls. There were over 300 Black-headed so there is a chance of finding something else with them... but not today.

Black-headed Gull

Wednesday, 13 November 2013

Fallow Deer with autumn colours

James went to Chatsworth this morning and took this fine portrait of a buck Fallow Deer with what may prove to some of the last of the autumn leaves as background as the weather is set to get colder I hear.
He has updated some of the photos on his web site
Fallow Deer (James Butler)

Tuesday, 12 November 2013

Northern Winter Moth

The increase in temperature yesterday, which produced overnight temperatures of around 10 Centigrade got the moths flying again; 7 December Moths,13 Mottled Umber, 14 Scarce Umber, Feathered Thorn, Red-green Carpet and this Northern Winter Moth which is my first this winter. I think it is best separated from Winter Moth by the paler grey, rather than brown upper forewing colour, whitish hindwing and slightly larger size. The females are flightless.
Northern Winter Moth

Sunday, 10 November 2013

Big goose day!

I mentioned yesterday that I was hoping for a movement of Pink-footed Geese but without success, today certainly made up for it. I was watching the shrike at around 8am when a text from Ken brought news that he had four skeins on view from the Triangle on Beeley, almost immediately I heard the honking calls and two skeins passed directly overhead. I joined Ken at the Triangle and by 10am we had had well over 1000 birds heading SW. 
Odd skeins can pass over at any time during the winter but we usually get one or two 'big goose days' when several thousand cross Derbyshire from the Stockport/ Martin Mere area heading for the Wash. 
With Peregrine, Golden Plover, several Raven and three Stonechat and clear blue skies it was quite a morning.

Pink-footed Geese

Great Grey Shrike in sunshine

Couldn't resist posting another photo of the shrike taken this morning.

Great Grey Shrike

Saturday, 9 November 2013

Great Spotted Woodpecker

No sign of the Glossy Ibis around Bakewell since Sunday but it has flown in to roost at Ogston Reservoir on Thursday and Friday night, apparently flying in from the North but it could be anywhere during the day. 
I was hoping for a movement of Pink-footed Geese this morning with a bright start to the day but no luck. The Great Grey Shrike was still at Wragg's Quarry this morning and still reasonable numbers of thrushes and Wood Pigeon moving through. With the cooler weather I've topped up the feeders which produced this nice male Great Spotted Woodpecker.
Great Spotted Woodpecker

December Moth

Caught the first December Moths of the winter on Wednesday, 2 males and a female. With the temperature still being reasonably mild I am still catching a few moths. On Wednesday I also trapped Silver Y, Spruce and Juniper Carpet, 7 Scarce and 4 Mottled Umber.
December Moth

Sunday, 3 November 2013

Glossy Ibis - Bakewell

The Glossy Ibis is not a bird I had thought would make it on to the Darley Dale blog any time soon, despite the fact that there has been a significant influx in to the UK this autumn. I haven't noted the total but there must be over a dozen birds in the UK at present and I was lucky enough to encounter one of them last weekend at Spurn. 
News that there had been two sightings over Bakewell yesterday was still therefore quite a surprise so this morning I drove up the A6 as far as Ashford checking the flooded fields but without success so I headed back to the moor where I did manage to see the Great Grey Shrike (below). 
News that Mark Pass had relocated the bird by the A6 just south of Bakewell was both a relief and slightly embarrassing as I must have driven past the bird twice on my early morning trip.
Not sure how many records there are for Derbyshire, I'll have to wait for the imminent publication of Roy Frost's 'The Birds of Derbyshire' to find out, this looks to be a first winter bird.
Glossy Ibis

Great Grey Shrike - Wragg's Quarry

The Great Grey Shrike has returned, first seen on 30th October, I couldn't find it yesterday although the weather was very poor but it was at the quarry this morning. According to my records this is the 4th successive winter that it has been in the area although in 2010 it was less attached to the quarry than it has been in subsequent years.

Great Grey Shrike

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