Wednesday, 30 April 2014

Moth update - Yellow-barred Brindle

Still struggling with moths both in terms of numbers and species, I think the night temperatures are still on the cool side where I am. Yellow-barred Brindle last night is always a welcome visitor also Small Phoenix, Scalloped Hazel and Pale Tussock in the last few days. I have also added the micro moth Ypsolopha ustella.
Yellow-barred Brindle

Lapwing chick

Mention of the Golden Plover chick yesterday prompted Ken to send me this portrait of a Lapwing chick from Beeley Moor also taken yesterday. The season is moving on!
Lapwing - chick (Ken Smith)

Tuesday, 29 April 2014

Dunlin - Snake Pass

James went up to the Snake Pass again today and found this superb Dunlin in display mode. This is one of my target species for the Spring so I will be making the trip myself at the weekend, weather allowing. The Dunlin is a scarce breeding bird in the Peak District and numbers appear to be declining.
He also came across a Golden Plover with at least three downy young. Roy Frost's the Birds of Derbyshire quotes mid-May as the typical date for the appearance of young so these are early. Presumably benefiting from the mild winter.
Dunlin (James Butler)

Monday, 28 April 2014


Had an hour to spare this evening and had some luck with this Goldcrest it was singing, or at least I think it was this bird that was singing and is therefore a male, and feeding in quite a small area. 
Goldcrest are fantastic birds and one of my favourites. Hard to believe that our residents are joined by  Continental birds that cross the North Sea in the Autumn.


Sunday, 27 April 2014

Dipper fledglings

Ken sent me a few photos of a family of five fledgling Dippers he came across yesterday. This is a great portrait of two birds freshly out of the nest.
Dipper fledlings (Ken Smith)

Garden Warbler - Clough Wood

I went looking for Garden Warbler this morning and Clough Wood is one of the best areas for them. They like the mixed scrubby areas and there were at least three males singing. 
The photo was taken at  06:30 this morning with an overcast sky at ISO 5000 using the Canon 5D III. Although the photo is a little grainy I wouldn't have been able to get any sort of shot with the 7D in these conditions.
Saw and heard my first Cuckoo of the year this morning, flying along Harland Edge.
Garden Warbler

Breakfast for Dippers

Both adults were visiting the nest regularly with food this morning and I don't think it will be long before this brood fledge. I saw the Dipper pick up the fish which was already dead, looks like a Stickleback, not sure they would normally catch something this size.


The Streamer

First Streamer last night but very little else. The black markings on the outer-wing look like streamers - makes sense to me. A very nice moth which I only catch in small numbers each spring

Saturday, 26 April 2014

Whitethroat - first for the year

Returned to the moor as the sun started to shine and soon found my first Whitethroat of the year, unfortunately the sunshine was very intermittent and you can see the difference it makes in the two photos below. Also 4 or 5 Wheatear. Pete Rawdon had heard another Grasshopper Warbler by the triangle but I didn't manage to catch up with it. Single Peregrine and 6 Buzzard over Harland Edge.

Whitethroat - male

Oystercatcher - Middleton Moor

It was raining heavily first thing this morning and the moor was shrouded in mist, although I did catch a Shellduck flying south, so headed for Middleton Moor hoping for the odd tern but no luck. There were a couple of Redshank and this Oystercatcher which flew by just as the sun appeared. Also 6 Wheatear by the track leading to the hide.

Thursday, 24 April 2014

Mountain Hare - Spring pelt

James has been up to the Snake Pass for the Mountain Hares, he saw plenty of hares but was disappointed with the shots he took. I didn't think they were too bad and this shot certainly shows how the Spring moult is progressing. There is certainly a lot less white fur now.
Mountain Hare (James Butler)

Coot chicks growing

The Coot chicks already look about twice the size they were 10 days ago and are keeping both adults busy finding food.
Coot feeding chick

Tuesday, 22 April 2014

Dipper - Chee Dale

James has been out with the camera today, despite the overcast skies, and came back with a series of Dipper photos from Chee Dale.
This is a good time to see Dippers as they are now actively feeding their young.
James has captured the wing stretch which Dippers do regularly, either each wing in turn then both together or both together then each wing. Great shot!

The Herald

This is a great looking moth, it overwinters as an adult and may be found freshly emerged in the late summer but I catch most around this time of year. They spend the winter in outbuildings, tunnels, caves and old mine shafts. A nice addition to the year list!
The Herald

Monday, 21 April 2014

Orange Tip Butterfly

Plenty of butterflies on the wing today including this nice male Orange-tip. I also had my first Emperor Moths over the moor with at least 7 males. Strangely I have never posted the Orange Tip before.
Orange Tip Butterfly - male

Water Vole youngsters

A brood of young Water Vole finally emerged at Rowsley today. There were at least 3, all a similar size, looking about a third of the size of the adults. There was no sign of the adults and the young all appeared to be feeding happily on grass at the edge of the water.

Water Vole - young

Common Sandpiper - Chatsworth

First Common Sandpiper of the year on the river at Chatsworth in rather murky overcast conditions. Distant views but you can see what it is. Not many migrants to go now on the migrant arrivals front.
The Mandarin were very active and I finally caught up with some young Water Vole at Rowsley of which more later.
Common Sandpiper

Scarce Tissue

Warmer last night and a few more moths, the highlight was this superb Scarce Tissue. This is the third year running I have caught it in the garden trap after an absence of several years. Also first V-Pug of the year.
Scarce Tissue

Sunday, 20 April 2014

American Skunk-cabbage - Chatsworth

Spotted this example of the American Skunk-cabbage on the banks of the Derwent at Chatsworth. According to the Derbyshire Flora there were only three known sites in 2004 of this non-native plant. It was in the news recently that the EU is drawing up a list of alien species which should be controlled, not sure if this is on it but probably should be.
American Skunk-cabbage

Shoveler - Chatsworth

This is the first morning over Easter that I haven't had to scrape ice off the car windscreen but it still didn't feel warm. Went over to Chatsworth and came across a fine pair of Shoveler. These are my first for the local patch so a nice find. They do occur in reasonable numbers in the south of the county in the winter, where the occasional pair breed, but it is scarcer in the Peak District with Middleton Moor the most regular spot. They were flushed by one of the estate vehicles but appeared to land further up the river.
Five Gooseander, at least 7 Mandarin and over a hundred Swallows and Sand Martins with several House Martin feeding low over the river.

Shoveler - male and female

Saturday, 19 April 2014

Grasshopper Warbler - Bent Lane

My first Grasshopper Warbler of the year delivering its reeling song on Bent Lane early this morning. As usual getting a view of the bird was very difficult but I did eventually manage a record shot as it sang from a wet reedy area.
The numbers on the moor are generally low but there are usually several pairs although last year I didn't see any so this is a welcome addition to the year list.
They do sometimes sing out in the open as these shots from July 2011 show.
Spot the Grasshopper Warbler!
Grasshopper Warbler

Friday, 18 April 2014

Peregrine - another first summer

Came across another Peregrines in first summer plumage on Beeley today. Ken says this bird has been around on the moor since the beginning of the week.
Peregrine - first summer

Osprey - Beeley Moor

Caught up with Osprey this morning, it was sat on the moor with a large trout in its talons. With the sunshine causing a lot of heat haze this is the best I could do. Still you can tell what it is. No new migrants today but 40 Golden Plover in one of the grassy fields bordering the moor and Ken had the first Hobby over Beeley Moor early afternoon.

Adder basking in the sunshine

I saw a single male Adder and had brief views of the secretive female this morning on Big Moor. He was a lovely pale green and I suspect had recently shed his skin. Also my first Common Lizards of the year.
Adder - male

Wheatear - male

A significant increase in the number go Wheatear around today, I had 4 on Beeley and 12 on Longstone Edge.
Wheatear - male

Brindled Beauty

Still very few moths flying but this Brindled Beauty was a nice addition to the garden year list. Not uncommon in the early Spring but I only catch it in small numbers.
Brindled Beauty

Thursday, 17 April 2014

Moth update - Waved Umber

I've run the garden moth trap every night since the last update but the cold nights have kept the numbers very low. Last night was a little better and I added two new moths for the year; the Early-tooh Striped and Waved Umber. I'm hoping for a few more over the Easter weekend.
Waved Umber

Early Tooth-striped

A single last night was first for the year.
Early Tooth-striped

Sunday, 13 April 2014

Green-veined White Butterfly

One of the earliest of our butterflies on the wing I saw plenty of Green-veined Whites today enjoying the sunshine along side Small Tortoiseshells and Peacocks.
Green-veined White Butterfly

Peregrine Falcon quarry drama

I visited a local quarry this afternoon to check on the Peregrines and Ravens. There was clearly something bothering the Peregrines when I arrived as both birds were calling loudly. I soon saw why, a first summer female Peregrine was also flying round in the quarry. As the youngster circled the adult female fly up from below her, twisted over and grabbed the youngster. They span round whilst the adult clutched the youngster with both birds calling loudly. The adult let go after about 20 seconds and the youngster flew rapidly away whilst the adult returned to the quarry face. 
Peregrine - first summer female

Peregrine Falcons


There are plenty of Chiffchaff around now, easily detected by their characteristic song. Nice to see one in sunshine but still cool and very windy this morning.

Saturday, 12 April 2014

First Pied Flycatcher

Caught up with a single male Pied Flycatcher in Clough Wood this afternoon. It didn't call or sing so keeping up with it was difficult and I barely managed a record shot. I'll have more chance once they are nesting. The 12th April is on the early side of average arrival dates, haven't heard of any others in Derbyshire yet but there will probably be other records today also male Redstart in the wood.
Pied Flycatcher

More migrant arrivals

Along with the Willow Warblers several Tree Pipit in song by Flash Lane, also my first Blackcap singing this morning and a male Ring Ousel flew from Hellbank Plantation to Harland Edge. There were three Ring Ousel this morning at Harboro Rocks above Carsington this morning according to Roger. Still cold though.

Tree Pipit

First Willow Warblers

Several Willow Warbler on Flash Lane this morning, arrived yesterday according to Ken. Great to hear them singing again.
Willow Warbler

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