Thursday, 31 December 2015

Tufted Duck x Pochard hybrid back at Bakewell

The male Tufted Duck x female Pochard hybrid has returned for at least its third winter and was by the island in Bakewell this morning and giving great views in the sunshine. For the past two winters I've seen it around Chatsworth but it's certainly easier to view at Bakewell.
It has been occasionally reported as a male Scaup but it's more likely to be confused with Lesser Scaup although with views like these it shouldn't be a problem. 
The extensively black-tipped bill and grey back with fine black vermiculations separate the two. Lesser Scaup has just the nail of the bill black and the back is white with coarse black vermiculation. 
You can see these differences on the Lesser Scaup photographed at Ogston in March 2013, click the link and view below.

Tufted Duck x Pochard male hybrid

Sunday, 27 December 2015

Geese on the move

A skein of 350 - 400 flew west over Darley Dale at around 12:15 today, presumably heading up to the Southport area from the Wash.
Pink-footed Geese
Whilst at Peak Village yesterday I noted that one of the Canada Geese was colour-ringed. Not sure where this bird originates from but I've contacted the ringing group I think is responsible so will hopefully get an update. See below;
Canada Goose
5272507 Ad F 02/07/2013 Bowness-on-Windermere: 54°22'N 2°55'W (SD4097) (Cumbria) 
AAAH VV 29/09/2014 Bakewell: 53°12'N 1°41'W (SK2168) (Derbyshire)   153km SSE 1 yr 89days
VV 26/12/2015 Rowsley, near Bakewell: 53°11'N 1°38'W (SK2566) (Derbyshire)   156km SSE 2 yrs 

Canada Goose

Saturday, 26 December 2015

Wigeon - Rowsley

A pair of Wigeon with Mallard by Peak Village at Rowsley is quite unusual, there was also a male Shoveler which has been present in the general area up to Chatsworth for several weeks, and a drake Mandarin but nothing else of note on a drive around the moor. 
It was 13 Centigrade at sunrise which is very mild. 

Wigeon - male and female

Thursday, 24 December 2015

Winter Blackcap

I noted a male Blackcap in the garden at the start of the week and it is still present today. It is feeding off the fat feeder and has been making fairly regular visits but it has taken until today to get a photo. This is the first time I've seen Blackcap in the garden in the winter and is no doubt a reflection of the very mild weather we have been experiencing.
The number of Blackcap wintering in Derbyshire, according to The Birds of Derbyshire, has risen steadily from around a dozen in the 1970's to more than 70 in recent years, most are recorded in gardens and generally in the lower lying south and east of the county.
Nationally and regionally the Blackcap population is doing well and may be benefiting from a reduced migration with many now wintering in Europe. There is some evidence that our wintering birds are not of British origin but migrate here from northern and eastern Europe.

Blackcap - male

Sunday, 20 December 2015

Stoat - Middleton Moor

A much brighter day today and still very mild, ran the moth trap overnight but no moths.
This Stoat at Middleton Moor ran in front of the hide, I don't see many so pleased with this, they are so quick. Nothing much else though; 56 Teal and a single Greylag Goose were the only birds of note.


Wednesday, 16 December 2015

Red Deer river crossing - Chatsworth

I just caught the Red Deer herd at Chatsworth crossing the river this morning, it looked like just over 50 animals which is most of the herd I think.
There is still a male Shoveler on Emperor Lake along with single female Goldeneye and Goosander but no Crossbill. It must be a month since I've seen any. and then it was only a couple of birds, so it's not looking like a good year for them locally.
Red Deer

Tuesday, 15 December 2015

Short-eared Owl - Beeley Moor

There have been occasional sightings of a Short-eared Owl on Beeley Moor during the past couple of weeks but the weather has been so poor that it has been difficult to look for it. I finally caught up with it last night in the murky gloom at around 15:30 and took a record photo.
For the photographers this was taken at ISO 4000 at f4 1/250 and was still a stop and a half under exposed. It was so dark that I could barely see the bird with my naked eye but, with a bit of processing,  the photo is good enough to confirm the identification showing the black wing tips, pale trailing edge to the wing and boldly barred tail of Short-eared.
It's assumed that Long-eared Owls leave the area in favour of communal roosts in the winter, I've never seen one locally in the winter months.
Short-eared Owl

Sunday, 13 December 2015

Marsh Tit - Monsal Dale

The Marsh Tit is the least common member of the tit family in Derbyshire, it was reported from just 25 locations in the 2014 Derbyshire Bird Report compared to 62 locations for the Willow Tit. This is the reverse of the national situation where there are estimated to be six times as many Marsh Tit territories as there are for Willow Tit (52,800 and 8,500 respectively in 2000).
Sadly both species have suffered a more than 50% population decline since the 1970's and both are now red listed as species of most conservation concern in the UK. 
I photographed this bird this morning in a very gloomy and damp Monsal Dale.
Marsh Tit
The Peak District holds a significant proportion of the Derbyshire population and Monsal, Millers and Chee Dales are still amongst the best areas to listen for its distinctive 'pitchou' calls which are the best way of separating it from its very similar cousin.
Various features have been suggested for separating the two species; the Marsh Tit tends to have a smaller bib and a dull rather than glossy black cap but these features are often unreliable or difficult to determine on a lone bird. 
A pale mark above the cutting edge at the bill base in Marsh Tit has been relatively recently described (2008 and 2009) as a reliable way of separating the two. Where present this may be helpful as shown in photo above and the cropped image below.
Marsh Tit on left showing pale mark at base of bill generally absent on Willow on right

Marsh Tit (left) and Willow Tit showing the black bib
Pale edges to the secondaries and tertials form a pale panel in the wing of the Willow Tit which, when present, is a good indicator of Willow as can be seen in the photo below taken at Carsington on Friday. 
Willow Tit

Locally the best places to look for Willow Tit are the feeding stations at Carsington and Ogston Reservoirs or slightly further away at Carr Vale.
There are occasional Willow Tit records from Flash Lane, Darley Hillside and Clough Wood but I have never come across Marsh Tit in the immediate Darley Dale area.

Friday, 11 December 2015

Leucistic Common Snipe - Carsington Water

A leucistic Common Snipe  has been present at Carsington Water for over a week. I haven't managed to see it yet but Roger sent me these photos taken in the last couple of days. It has generally been seen in front of the visitor centre in company with anything from 7 to 30 Common Snipe.
Whilst Common Snipe are normally very well camouflaged it shows that they don't have to rely entirely on that to avoid predators.

Common Snipe exhibiting leucism (©Roger Carrington)

Tuesday, 8 December 2015

Lapwing arrival

Earlier today I picked up a large flock of very distant birds heading towards Screetham Lane from the SW, they turned out to be Lapwing as they got closer. I estimated that there were 400-500 birds, which briefly joined a group of around 70 which were already on the ground. 
This is one of the largest Lapwing flocks I have seen locally and is a welcome sight and hopefully reflects improving fortunes for this species which has declined sharply since the 1980's.
Lapwing - part of the large flock

Monday, 7 December 2015

Mountain Hare - Bleaklow

Made my first trip of the winter to Bleaklow for Mountain Hare with James. The weather has been so bad recently that this was the first opportunity in the last few weeks.
Most of the hares were in their winter pelt but a couple still had brown on the face. 
They are beautiful animals and well adapted to survive in what can be a very hostile environment. The wind increased in strength whilst we were on the moor making it difficult to stand. 
A skein of Pink-footed Geese and single Golden Plover and Raven were the only birds seen.

Mountain Hare

Saturday, 5 December 2015

Goldeneye - Ogston Reservoir

Very windy and heavily overcast all day making it difficult to stand, never mind look through binoculars particularly on the moor, so made another visit to Ogston. 
Nothing new on the reservoir but a Goldeneye came reasonably close inshore and a second bird flew past. I put them both in the log as female/ immature but looking at the photos the top bird is an immature with all dark bill and largely grey wing coverts whilst the inset photo of the second bird is an adult female with yellow tipped bill, brighter yellow iris and white wing coverts.
Goldeneye - 1st winter
Goldeneye 1st winter and inset adult female

Wednesday, 2 December 2015

Lesser Redpoll - Carsington Water

A nice flock of Lesser Redpoll on Stones Island at Carsington Water has been present for several days and, helpfully, mainly feeding low down on Rosebay Willow-Herb seeds enabling decent views. There are at least 40, and with them there has been a single Mealy Redpoll although I couldn't find it this morning. 
The Mealy Redpoll is now considered a separate species (Acanthis flammea) from the British Lesser Redpoll (Acanthis cabaret) so it's worth looking for.
Separating the various species and races of Redpoll is quite a challenge, the starting point is a thorough knowledge of the structure and plumages of the Lesser Redpoll.

Lesser Redpoll

Monday, 30 November 2015

Nice weather for ducks!

With almost continuous rain for the last couple of days I have not seen much in the way of wildlife but sitting in the hide at Ogston Reservoir this morning the Teal were busy displaying. There were over 100 which is a decent count, although they spent most of the time hidden in the vegetation.
A male Sparrowhawk made a brief appearance unsuccessfully chasing Reed Buntings.
Teal - displaying male
Sparrowhawk - male

Friday, 27 November 2015

Black Redstart - Peasunhurst last sighting 20th November and final photos

The Black Redstart at Peasunhurst was last seen by Ken on the 20th November when he took the photos below. These are probably the best ones taken during the birds 83 day stay in the area, having been first found by Ken on 30th August.
We are assuming that it was the same returning Black Redstart that was present from 28 July - 27 September 2014 at the same farm at Peasunhurst. 
It was always difficult to photograph as it was on a farm with no public access and it seldom strayed close to the busy B5057 road.
Coincidentally a Black Redstart was recorded at Ogston at Brackenfield Church on the afternoon of the 20th, could it have been the same bird?

Black Redstart (©Ken Smith)

Thursday, 26 November 2015

Dunlin - East Moor

A surprise this morning with a Dunlin amongst just over 50 Golden Plover on East Moor. My first for the Beeley Moor area although regular at both Ogston and Carsington. I think it probably bred locally in the dim and distant past but it's now restricted to the higher moors north of Bamford as a breeding bird.
Dunlin with Golden Plover

Tuesday, 24 November 2015

Whooper Swan - Middleton Moor

In rather inclement weather conditions I made my first visit of the winter to see the Starling roost at Middleton Moor this morning. Just to get an idea of the number of birds I find the morning easier as birds arrive over a couple of hours coming in to roost but depart in a couple of minutes the following morning. The birds departed in three groups this morning at 07:40 and I estimate that there were no more than 10,000 birds which is much less than I've seen at this time in the prior two years. It is still quite a sight though.
There is no problem with visiting the site with parking on the roadside at Moisty Lane. The landowners, British Fluorspar, request that visitors stick to the footpath and viewing area as the settlement pits are dangerous.
Having seen the Starlings I visited the open pools and was greeted by the sound of calling Whooper Swans at the hide with two adults present until about 9:10 when they left to the SE. A single male Stonechat and 17 Golden Plover were the only other birds of note.

Whooper Swans

Sunday, 22 November 2015

Shag - Linacre Reservoir

I was disappointed not to see the Shag at Carsington yesterday and surprised to hear, as I was leaving, of first one, then four and finally eight birds at Linacre Reservoir.
Originally found by Peter Stoppard of Linacre Blogger fame, more birds were found by subsequent visitors with 8 the final total.
The birds were initially dispersed this morning but 5 were eventually located preening together by the water inflow on the middle reservoir with a 6th bird in the water. All 8 from yesterday could well have been there. All the birds seen this morning were juveniles.
Described as a rare visitor, usually in winter in The Birds of Derbyshire the highest recorded count is of 11 birds at Ogston Reservoir in 1993, so this looks like the second highest count.
A pair of Kingfisher, at least 10 Mandarin, 3 Great-crested Grebe and three Teal were also on the reservoir.
If they stay it will be worth a visit in better light.

Shag - juveniles

Saturday, 21 November 2015

Great Northern Diver - Carsington Water

An adult and juvenile Great Northern Diver have been present at Carsington Water since the start of the week and the juvenile showed very well this morning under a blue sky, but it was very cold with the first snow of the winter overnight.
There were also 9 Whooper Swans on the reservoir and a Red-throated Diver was seen earlier in the day but I missed this and 4 Little Gulls and there was no sign of the juvenile Shag which had also been present for several days but I was happy to leave with several hundred photos of the diver.

Great Northern Diver - juvenile

Friday, 20 November 2015

Great Grey Shrike - Wragg's Quarry

Just back from a week in the Alps, so making my first visit back to the moor. Met Ken by Wragg's Quarry to hear he had just seen a Great Grey Shrike flying to the back of the quarry. We soon relocated it on the fence posts on the quarry perimeter from where it was repeatedly flying down in to the heather and looked to be feeding on beetles.
We took a couple of distant record shots and left it hunting.
This is the sixth Autumn in a row that a Great Grey Shrike has turned up at the quarry. If it behaves similarly to the previous birds it will hopefully remain in the area over the winter.

Great Grey Shrike

Tuesday, 17 November 2015

Barn Owl - Beeley Moor

A surprise for George Briggs this morning, mist netting for thrushes on the edge of the moor when a Barn Owl paid a visit.
It's amazing how secretive the owls can be in the Darley Dale/ Beeley Moor area. For both Barn and Long-eared Owl I generally only see them in the latter part of the breeding season.

I hear that the Crag Martin is still present and showing well today in Chesterfield, which has remained in the area despite the weather.
Barn Owl 

Monday, 9 November 2015

Crag Martin - Chesterfield

Slightly outside my normal reporting area but worth it for Derbyshire's first and Britain's tenth Crag Martin.
First reported at mid-day yesterday, and found by Roy Frost who was doing some survey work on urban Peregrines, I arrived a little late, around 14:00 to hear it had been last seen around 13:50. Along with 70-80 others I waited until dusk but there was no further sign.
I didn't hold out much hope of it reappearing but thanks to the Norfolk birder who came up early morning on the off chance, it was reported again around 8:15 and it was on show when I arrived 20 minutes later and remained so until 10:00 when I left as it had started to rain.
Crag Martin
It spent most of the time whipping around around the tower just below the clock occasionally going further afield over the town but returning within a few minutes. I can only assume it was catching insects from the walls or perhaps coming out of the vented openings in the tower.
Crag Martin
It was extremely active making it very difficult to photograph but I eventually managed enough to show the main features. I didn't get much on the upper side but it looked to have pale tips to the coverts and scapulars so is presumably a first winter.
I can only speculate that it may have arrived in Britain with a small influx of Pallid Swifts which was noted from 31st October onwards and could therefore have been in the Country for a few days. Two of the earlier records were in October but this is the first for November. The Crag Martin has been extending it range northwards from the southern Europe but most winter either around the Mediterranean or in Africa.
Excellent write up on ageing here.
An amazing sight to see it around the twisted spire in Chesterfield and my first rarity there since the Black-throated Thrush in 1998.

Saturday, 7 November 2015

Wild duck bonanza - Chatsworth

I don't usually visit Chatsworth in the afternoon, especially on the weekend, as it is so busy but the weather has been so bad recently that this was my first opportunity. However I may have to rethink as on the river in front of the house I saw a fine drake Shoveler and whilst photographing the Shoveler a drake Pochard swam in to view and then a Gadwall appeared, a first winter drake I think.
Both Gadwall and Pochard are new records for the immediate area for me and although all three species can generally be seen at Ogston and Chatsworth they are great records for the Matlock/ Bakewell area. 
The Pochard has recently been listed as vulnerable on the European Red List of Birds due to a significant decline in numbers in recent years which is rather worrying.
Pochard - male

Gadwall - 1st male
Shoveler - male

Friday, 6 November 2015

Goosander - Bakewell

Another grey day but nice to see three Goosander still on the river at Bakewell. I assume these are siblings from a local breeding pair.


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