Saturday, 31 May 2014

Redstart - male

This male Redstart looked like it was feeding young in a nest. Fantastic looking birds and they appear to be in good numbers this year. 
Came across another brood of Gooseander, a female with 6 downy young at Rowsley.
Redstart - male

Mayfly - Rowsley

Mayfly's were in good numbers at Rowsley this morning. The Mayfly is unusual in that a winged dull coloured sub-adult emerges from the nymph and it then sheds it skin again several hours later to produce the brightly coloured adult as in this photo. Having reached this adult state the Mayfly only has a few hours of life left during which it must mate to secure the next generation.

Redwing singing Matlock Forest

Ken and I had a real surprise this morning when we came across a singing male Redwing on the edge of Matlock Forest. 
Looking in Roy Frosts 'The Birds of Derbyshire' there are very few records between May and September. Interestingly there is reference to a singing male at Slagmill Plantation on 18th May 1985, and another in the Goyt Valley on 17th June 2003, otherwise there are a couple of records cited for June and July. Other than the singing males there has been no records of the Redwing breeding in Derbyshire.
Redwing - male in song

Friday, 30 May 2014

Long-eared Owl at dusk

The fact that, perhaps more than any other owl, the Long-eared is almost exclusively nocturnal makes it particularly difficult to photograph, The sun was almost setting when this bird flew over to start it night of hunting.
Long-eared Owl

Wednesday, 28 May 2014

Long-eared Owl - juveniles

It's not just owls that need excellent eyesight. Locating this brood of juvenile Long-eared Owl needs excellent eyesight on behalf of the observers as well. Although getting towards full size and able to fly these juvenile Long-eared Owls are very difficult to locate as they stand motionless in the tops of trees bordering the moor. 
Despite the poor weather recently the owls appear to be doing well at the moment.

Long-eared Owl - juveniles

Monday, 26 May 2014

Goosander and ducklings - Bakewell

I received a call from Pam mid-afternoon, whilst she was shopping in Bakewell, to let me know that there was a female Goosander on the river with four downy youngsters. I got through the holiday traffic and eventually relocated the female taking the ducklings from the river by the playing fields upstream. 

Goosander - female with ducklings

Large Red Damselfly

A recently emerged Large Red Damselfly next to its discarded larval skin on Bog Bean.
Large Red Damselfly

Shelduck - Middleton Moor

I mentioned back in April that I had a single Shelduck flying over Beeley Moor and that this had almost certainly come from Middleton Moor. I had a pair of Shelduck at Middleton Moor this morning. The male was regularly chasing the female and Middleton Moor is probably the only site in the Peak District where Shellduck may breed.
I had at least one Whimbrel calling and a lone Barnacle Goose which I think has been present for a couple of days.


Sunday, 25 May 2014

Northern Eggar caterpillar

Came across this fully gown Northern Eggar caterpillar on the moors this morning. 
The Northern Eggar is an upland form of the Oak Eggar (Lasiocampa quercus). The Oak Eggar generally has a one year life cycle whilst the Northern Eggar has a two year cycle, seeing such a large caterpillar at this time of year appears to be more consistent with a one year cycle. The split between Oak and Northern Eggars is complex I think.
Northern Eggar - caterpillar

White and Brown-lipped Snails

There are literally hundreds of snails on the moorland edges at the moment. They appear to be both White and Brown-lipped and are easily seen on the stems of last years Rose-bay Willow Herb.
White-lipped Snail
Brown-lipped Snail

Saturday, 24 May 2014

Long-eared Owl again

Couldn't resist adding another shot of the Long-eared Owl seen earlier this week.
Long-eared Owl

The Curlew and the Lark

This Curlew had clearly strayed too close to the Skylarks nest. The Skylark buzzed around the Curlew then dropped into the heather close by fluttering its wings, the Curlew gave chase and was soon 20m from the original spot. The Skylarks job was done.

Curlew and Skylark

Stonechat juvenile - Beeley Moor

It's been a poor breeding year locally for the Stonechat. At the start of the breeding season I had three possible nesting pairs but I have only seen one brood of youngsters. I saw two juveniles with the adult male this morning. Ken had thought that the whole brood had been predated but at least two have survived.
I've removed a strand of barbed wire which crossed the photo, it was also very misty this morning when I took the photo so I have removed that also! The wonders of modern photography. 
Stonechat - juvenile

Garden Tiger caterpillar on Comfrey

Numbers of Garden Tiger moths have declined significantly during the past decade, encouragingly I caught quite a few adults around the moors last year and I am seeing plenty of their distinctive caterpillar at the moment so they are hopefully on the increase.
Garden Tiger caterpillar

Devon Carpet - First garden record

I caught this moth in the garden last night and at the time was certain this was Devon Carpet, it's late for me for the only confusion species the Water Carpet which is generally larger. This moth had a wing length around 14-15mm but more particularly has the rounded wings that are characteristic of Devon Carpet. There are a couple of things that don't appear exactly right for Devon Carpet however, the dark markings at the tip of the wing are more typical of Water and the indentation on the inner edge of the dark central band are a bit more indented than I expect. 
The Devon Carpet is very rare in Derbyshire, I'm only aware of four records; near Ashbourne in 1984 and the other three records are all in Darley Dale 2 from Clough Wood which I caught with Brian Statham and one from Simon Roddis's garden last August.
UPDATE: I discussed the identification of this individual with local moth expert Brian Statham who agreed with my assessment that this is the Devon Carpet.
Probable Devon Carpet

Friday, 23 May 2014

Nightjar returns, last of the Spring migrants

My list of arrival dates for our spring migrants is now complete. Roger sent me a message on Wednesday to confirm that he had recorded both a male and female in Matlock Forest. Not the best weather to look or listen for them at present but it will hopefully improve over the weekend.

Thursday, 22 May 2014

Nemophora metallica - one of the Longhorns

A new visitor to the moth trap last night Nemophora metallica. One of the Longhorn family, easy to see where the name comes from! 
Not sure of the status in Derbyshire, its described as very local nationally and the map doesn't include Derbyshire but I suspect there are records in the South of the County. I caught the Grass Rivulet, which is also a limestone grassland species, last night.

Nemophora metallica

NBN Gateway distribution for Nemophora metallica

Snipe on a wall

Ken took this picture today and 'Snipe on a wall' is his caption which covers it nicely. Snipe will have young now and they use higher vantage points from which they will call to remain in contact with the youngsters but it also gives them a good vantage point to see approaching danger.
Great portrait!
Common Snipe (Ken Smith)

Wednesday, 21 May 2014

Long-eared Owl - Beeley Moor

A lucky encounter with a Long-eared Owl this evening hunting the field bordering the moor. This is the best time of the year to see the Long-eared which is entirely nocturnal for most of the year but will hunt at dusk in the late Spring when they have young to feed.

Long-eared Owl

Red-and-black Froghopper - Beeley Moor

One of our commoner bugs, and easy to identify, the Red-and-black Froghopper is encountered in a wide range of habitats.
Red-and-black Froghopper - Cercopsis vulnerata

Nettle-tap on Forgetmenot

Another common micro moth, the Nettle-tap (Anthophila fabriciana) photographed on Beeley Moor yesterday - new for the blog.
Anthophila fabricana Nettle-tap

Tuesday, 20 May 2014

Hare kiss

James was out early this morning and photographed these two youngsters.

A good friend Richard Hart has pointed out that my blog post 'Rabbit kiss' is actually 'Hare kiss'! Apologies to James who originally sent me the photo as hares but I changed it to rabbit. As Richard said 'the black in the fur and black-tipped ears suggest Hare, as does the jizz'.
Hare (James Butler)

Monday, 19 May 2014

Red Kite over Stanton Moor

James was on Stanton Moor late yesterday afternoon taking some scenery photos when this Red Kite flew over. Consequently this photos was taken with a 40mm lens so it was close! He called me and I managed to see it from my garden circling over Clough Wood and Wensley. 
It had been seen a couple of times earlier in the week. On Wednesday over Beeley Moor and Thursday over the Enthoven works so may still be in the area. It's quite distinctive with several inner primaries missing.
Red Kite

Hobby - Beeley Moor

Distant but prolonged views of a Hobby this evening catching moths, Emperors I think, over Beeley Moor. I watched it for almost an hour but it never came close. Still great to see and its aerobatics were amazing.

Notocelia (Epiblema) cynosbatella in the garden

Not a rarity but new for the blog. Notocelia cynosbatella is one of the classic micro moths which mimic bird droppings for their camouflage and survival. This one is common and easily separated from similar species by the yellow palps.
Notocelia cynosbatella

Sunday, 18 May 2014

Small White Butterfly and Bluebells

Had a pleasant walk round Halldale Wood this afternoon, the birds were rather quiet, just one Pied Flycatcher but this Small White butterfly made a nice shot.
Small White

Comma back-lit

This Comma butterfly landed briefly right in front of me. The back-lit photo shows of the characteristic wing shape very well.

Spotted Flycatcher - nest building

The Spotted Flycatchers can't have been back in Darley Dale for more than 3 or 4 days but this pair were all ready well on with the nest construction.

Spotted Flycatcher

Stock Dove - revisited

I didn't think I had done the Stock Dove justice with the photo yesterday and had another chance early this morning. I think this shot shows the subtle greys and pinks of much better.
Stock Dove

Pyrausta cingulata - Longstone Edge

Whilst photographing the Wall butterflies yesterday I came across a single Pyrausta cingulata. This nationally scarce moth inhabits chalk and limestone hills and cliffs so the habitat was ideal. The wingspan is only 15mm so it is tiny. 
I've included the records published on the National Biodiversity Network website which gives an indication of its national distribution. I managed a couple of record shots before it flew and I lost it.
There are past records from the Derbyshire Dales such as Miller's, Lathkill and Cressbrook.
Pyrausta cingulata

NBN Gateway records for Pyrausta cingulata

Saturday, 17 May 2014

Mother Shipton - Longstone Edge

I've been on the look out for the day flying moth Mother Shipton for the past few weeks but the sunshine today did the job and I managed to photograph the fine example. It's named for the striking pattern of the old hags head on each wing and after the Knaresborough born soothsayer  and prophetess Mother Shipton.

Mother Shipton

Wall Butterfly - Longstone Edge

At least half-a-dozen Wall butterflies around the upper parking area at Longstone Edge, again my first for the year.
Wall Brown

Dingy Skipper

My first Dingy Skippers of the year, and I must have seen 20 around Longstone Edge this morning. The name Dingy is a little unkind as there are beautifully marked when fresh.

Dingy Skipper

Common Lizards - enjoying the sunshine

It's amazing what a difference warmth and sunshine makes. I've been checking each weekend for lizards with Ken and Roger but nothing until today when we counted 11 in our walk along Flash Lane this morning.
Big difference in size, and the smaller ones were much more skittish, are these one year olds?
Roger also pointed me in the direction of a pair of Spotted Flycatchers near Flash Dam which were my first for the year.

Common Lizard - with much smaller individual at the bottom

Stock Dove

I've never posted a Stock Dove before but there are good numbers around at present in the fields bordering the moors. This is an adult with a juvenile in the foreground. They are nice looking birds up close and this photo doesn't really do them justice.
Stock Dove adult and juvenile

Wednesday, 14 May 2014

Syndemis musculana

Two Syndemis musculana were new for the year last night but little else. Warmer weather forecast for the next few days may produce a few more moths.
Syndemis musculana

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