Wednesday, 31 December 2014

Last post of the year - Robin

There were plenty of Robins along Cromford Canal and a photo of a Robin in the snow, in sunshine, is a great way to finish the year I think.

Little Grebe with Bullhead - Cromford Canal

The remaining snow is still making access on to the moors difficult so I tried Cromford Canal this morning hoping for Water Vole. No Water Vole's and some of the regular walkers on the canal say they haven't seen any since the summer, when the barge started operating several times a week, which is worrying. 
A female Little Grebe caught a Bullhead and took almost 10 minutes removing the spines before she could sallow it.

Little Grebe - female with European Bullhead

Saturday, 27 December 2014

Snow scenes

A couple of photos from this mornings walk.
Sunrise over Whitesprings Plantation
Sheep pens on the Lumb Lane track

Red Grouse in snow

Quite a change in the weather overnight with about 10cm of snow in the valley and 15-20cm on the moor. I walked up Bent Lane to Wragg's Quarry then back down Lumb Lane. It's very peaceful and quiet without the cars!
Around 30 Brambling on Bent Lane with the Chaffinch flock, Stonechat at Wragg's and several Red Grouse displaying. I caught this bird just before it took flight. The light was fantastic.

Red Grouse

Friday, 26 December 2014

Mountain Hare - Bleaklow

My first visit to see the Mountain Hares for several months and they are now in predominantly white coats, which certainly makes seeing them a lot easier. I counted 15 in a scan of the hillside in this one area.
The light was poor and these two photos were both taken with the 300mm lens fully open at f2.8, but the hares still look impressive.

Mountain Hare

Wednesday, 24 December 2014

Golden Plover numbers increasing

I counted just over 300 Golden Plover with the Lapwing flock on Screetham Lane this evening. The numbers appear to be steadily increasing at the moment and this is now one of the largest flocks I can recall locally.
I haven't seen the Great Grey Shrike today but it has been around earlier in the week.
Golden Plover

Sunday, 21 December 2014

Barn Owl - Beeley Moor

The Barn Owl was hunting again this morning on the edge of Beeley Moor. I managed a single shot of it just as it was starting to get light. This was taken at ISO 10000 at 1/40th of a second but still captures something of the bird.
I had brief views of the Great Grey Shrike on Beeley Triangle and several Brambling on Bent Lane before the poor weather got the better of me and I headed home.
Barn Owl

Saturday, 20 December 2014

Partially albino Jackdaw - Peak Village

The day started with strong winds and intermittent rain, a Barn Owl hunting by the roadside at dawn on the edge of Beeley Moor was unexpected otherwise it was quiet on the moor. Thirty Golden Plover flew over and Roger located 180 on Screetham Lane. I came across this partially albino Jackdaw at Peak Village. I see a lot of Jackdaws but albinism appears to be less common in the Jackdaw than the Carrion Crow and Rook population.

Jackdaw - partially albino

Wednesday, 17 December 2014

Winter Moth

I'd given up moth trapping for the year but it has been so mild today I thought I'd give it a go and caught this fresh male Winter Moth (females are wingless).
Also caught 3 Mottled Umber and a Pale Brindled Beauty which is my earliest record.
Winter Moth

Saturday, 13 December 2014

Great Grey Shrike - Sitches Plantation, Beeley Moor

Clear blue skies this morning and a heavy frost, Two parties of Crossbill on Flash Lane, totalling 14 birds, were a welcome sight first thing. The first I have seen since the Spring but hopefully this marks a winter arrival.
Looking at the finches and larks on Streatham Lane I came across a Great Grey Shrike again and it gave fantastic views in the sunshine. Difficult to be certain that it's the same bird that's been around since October but I would assume so. Last weekend it was around Bent Lane and Wraggs Quarry but its also been over on The Triangle so it's covering quite an area.

Great Grey Shrike - disgorging a pellet

Sunday, 7 December 2014

Goosander display - Chatsworth

In between the heavier rain I managed a trip to Chatsworth this afternoon and came across 9 Goosander on the river, including three males. The males were doing the 'saluting' display, preening and then pointing their bills skywards. Unfortunately the light was poor but it was nice to see this party which is the largest group I have seen since the Spring.


Flock of Teal at dawn

Heavy rain early this morning with a strong NW wind. A nice flock of around 80 Teal at Ogston which took flight several times, perhaps a Fox on the bank nearby.

Saturday, 6 December 2014

Great Grey Shrike - Bent Lane

I mentioned below that the Great Grey Shrike spent most of the day around Bent Lane, when it appeared to be actively hunting it moved along the stone walls with occasional sallies on to the ground. Otherwise it was stood on the tops of trees and bushes in the area.

Great Grey Shrike

Lapwing and Golden Plover

A nice flock of several hundred Lapwing on Screetham Lane with around 30 Golden Plover which have been present for over a week now. This years Lapwing are very colourful in the sunshine at this time of year. 
Over 100 Skylark, several hundred Linnet and around 30 Yellowhammer in the fields with Chaffinch and a few Brambling.
The Great Grey Shrike spent most of the day on Bent Lane on either side of the road just north of Bumper Castle. 

Lapwing and Golden Plover

Sunday, 30 November 2014

Ageing Great Grey Shrikes

Haven't done much today as we had a family shopping trip planned but an early morning visit to the moor, which was finally under blue skies, produced three skeins of Pink-footed Geese (totalling 300+) and Stonechat.
A chance meeting with John Bradley led to a discussion on the age of the Great Grey Shrike which he had just been watching by Wragg's Quarry,  whilst we were watching several Brambling on Bent Lane. John thought it was probably a first winter whilst I had indicated that I thought it was an adult based on the dark lores and the very narrow pale tips to the greater and primary coverts.
I've since checked various papers and photos and consulted George Briggs, who as a bird ringer has a lot of experience in ageing birds in the hand, and we now all agree that the bird is a first winter. George made the following comments;

"I think it is a this years bird due to several feather tracts showing a bit brownish, and also at least 2 greater coverts may by un-moulted."

Adult Great Grey Shrikes undergo a complete post-breeding moult and thus the majority of flight feathers and coverts are glossy black when they arrive in the UK in the autumn.
Whereas juveniles undergo only a partial moult of the body feathers and thus most of the coverts are worn and brownish black, with pale tips in the autumn.
Looking at photos of Great Greys in Britain the colour of the lores, the area between the eye and the bill is very variable and is often black in first winters.
Clearly the age of the bird is interesting as for a first winter bird this is its first visit to the area and it is not the same bird that has over-wintered in previous years.

Anyway it's a good excuse to post another photo.

Great Grey Shrike - first winter

Saturday, 29 November 2014

Stoat - Ogston Reservoir

Another Saturday with the moors lost in mist, the conditions were slightly better in the valley so headed for Ogston. Nothing unexpected bird wise but nice to see Willow Tits which are very scarce around Darley Dale. 
A Stoat spent several minutes chasing around the island in front of the hide, only my second for the year,  which made up for the poor weather.


Tuesday, 25 November 2014

Great Grey Shrike - Wraggs Quarry

A Great Grey Shrike has been reported occasionally since late October but from a variety of locations. Pete Rawdon saw it yesterday from Bent Lane on the edge of Whitesprings plantation and Roger saw it this morning on the Rowsley road between Bent Lane and Flash Lane. It was still there this afternoon despite the constant stream of cars. 
Hopefully it will stay in the area, but not quite so close to the road!

Great Grey Shrike - first winter

Mist inversion from Longstone Edge

This was the view looking SE from Longstone Edge towards Chatsworth this morning, strange light creating a sepia effect. The mist persisted in the valley around Darley Dale all day.
View from Longstone Edge

Starlings leaving the roost

This is one of those times when photographs simply can't adequately convey the spectacle. Perhaps 100,000 birds all taking flight together with a low rumbling rush of wings and the sound of the birds calling. It really is a spectacle, but it is all over within minutes. The birds leaving the Middleton Moor roost at first light normally in two groups.
I've added a single portrait just to show what smart looking birds Starlings are in the winter.


Monday, 24 November 2014

Raven and Crow

The sunshine yesterday afternoon encouraged a few birds to take advantage and I heard Dippers singing along the river and saw several Raven displaying. This bird attracted the attention of a local Carrion Crow which makes a good comparison of the bulk and bill size of the Raven compared to the crow.
Raven and Carrion Crow

Sunday, 23 November 2014

Starling numbers increasing at Middleton Moor

The number of Starlings roosting at Middleton Moor is increasing. I went last night and had the benefit of a clear end to the day. Unfortunately most of the birds flew straight in to the roost site so there was not much of a pre-roost murmuration, but plenty of time yet and it's still an impressive sight.
Starlings flying to roost
It's very difficult to estimate the total number of starlings entering the roost. I've just counted the birds on the photo above and come to a total of 5875 birds, coloured in groups of 1000 birds.  This was just a part of the stream of birds from mainly west, north and north-east entering the roost. There does not appear to be many from the southerly direction. I would estimate the roost at present to be 100,000 to 150,000 birds.
Starling count in coloured groups of 1000 birds

Chatsworth Swiss Cottage - autumn colour

Another walk around Chatsworth produced a couple of male Wigeon feeding with Mallards by the river, 70 Pink-footed Geese but little else of note on another grey and wet day. With the trees still carrying a lot of leaves there are some great colours at the moment. No Mandarin on the lake which is unusual.
Swiss Cottage

Saturday, 22 November 2014

Goldeneye - Carsington Water

Another grey day with the moors completely enveloped in mist. Carsington Water was a little better, a nice group of displaying Goldeneye and distant views of 4 Red-crested Pochard which have been present for some weeks. A Woodcock flew over the dam wall which was a surprise.


Sunday, 16 November 2014

Hybrid Tufted Duck back at Chatsworth

Ducks on the river at Chatsworth this morning included a male Pochard, female Gadwall and the hybrid male Tufted Duck/Pochard which I last saw in February, so it could be back for the winter.

Male Tufted Duck/Pochard hybrid

Redshank - Chatsworth

It's been a very grey weekend with constant mist over the moors but a walk along the river at Chatsworth produced a Redshank which brightened the day somewhat. A regular breeding bird on the gravel pits in the south of the county a now regularly breeding at Carsington it's largely disappeared as a breeding bird of the moorlands. The Birds of Derbyshire cites a breeding record for Beeley Moor  in 1981 but this is my first in the immediate area. 

Friday, 14 November 2014

Scarce Umber

Several Scarce Umber trapped during the warmer weather this week, also another December Moth. This fresh looking male was trapped this evening despite the drop in temperature with the clearing sky.
Scarce Umber

Sunday, 9 November 2014

Red Deer - Beeley Moor

Whilst there now appears to be a small established Red Deer population in the Whitesprings / Flash Lane area they are not frequently seen on the open moor. These three hinds looked like they were set to cross the road but then moved off towards Fallinge Edge followed by two young males.
A walk around Chatsworth produced a couple of female Gooseander on Emperor Lake, three Mandarin, 6 Tufted Duck and 20 Teal at Swiss Lake and a few scattered Brambling during the walk.
Red Deer

Pink-feet on the move

There was a large movement of Pink-footed Geese on Wednesday 5th, Pam rang me to say two skeins had passed over the house and there were 2,700 recorded at Ogston. Ken took this photo of a large skein over the valley.
Pink-footed Geese (K Smith)

Red Grouse in a bush

Ken sent me this photo of a Red Grouse in a Hawthorn bush, not how you usually see grouse although some other members of the grouse family spend a lot of time in trees. I presume this bird was tempted by the berries?
Red Grouse (Ken Smith)

Saturday, 8 November 2014

Fieldfare on the move

There were a couple of hours of dry weather this morning before the rain set in. Groups of Fieldfare 100 to 200 strong were crossing the moor generally heading SE. Simon Roddis was counting at Upper Loads and recorded 7460 between 07:45 and 09:45.
Overnight caught my first December Moth and Scarce Umber of the winter.

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...