Saturday, 31 January 2015

Goshawk - adult

The Goshawk is one of the hardest birds of prey to see well or photograph. The UK population is lower than it should be through continued persecution by some gamekeepers and egg collectors, and it is difficult to locate and observe in its woodland habitat.
Getting a decent photograph requires time and patience, to get to know their behaviour and habitat, or a lot of luck!
This bird, a superb adult and I thought female, based on size, but the very black ear-coverts indistinctly marked secondaries are more indicative of a large male. There are few birds more striking in appearance than this.

Goshawk - adult 

Sunday, 25 January 2015

Fox - Bakewell

Rather distant views of a Fox in the rough grassland adjacent to Bakewell Golf Course. The Fox looked to be hunting for mice or voles even though it was almost mid-day.

Drake Shoveler - Chatsworth

I mentioned that I saw a drake Shoveler yesterday at Williamthorpe and there were several sightings elsewhere in Derbyshire during the week so it wasn't entirely unexpected that I should see one this morning at Chatsworth. I presume some of their regular sites in the south of the County froze with the cold weather at the start of the week displacing the birds to other wetlands.
Shoveler - drake

Fallow Deer - Chatsworth

Early morning light at Chatsworth provided some nice back lighting for this group of Fallow Deer hinds.
Fallow Deer

Saturday, 24 January 2015

Water Rail - Williamthorpe Nature Reserve

Started on the moor with Ken but it was very icy with a cold northerly wind so we headed down in to the valley but without much luck. We bumped in to Roy Frost who mentioned he had seen several Water Rail at Williamthorpe recently. 
After a quiet morning I decided to have a look for them late afternoon. There was a decent group of Teal on the lake and a single male Shoveler but it was heading towards dusk before I heard any Water Rail. Sadly my first sighting was of a large Brown Rat carrying a dead Water Rail through the reeds, I only caught the tail end of it but have included a record shot. Rats are well known predators of rails in other parts of the world and are responsible for wiping out some species but I've never seen a rat take a rail in the UK.
It was getting dark before there was any real activity from the Water Rails but I managed a few record shots.

Water Rail
Brown Rat carrying off a Water Rail

Sunday, 18 January 2015

Great Grey Shrike - Beeley Triangle

Saw my first Stonechat of the year and another 35 Pink-footed Geese flew NW around 12:30. Caught up with the Great Grey Shrike on the Triangle but soon lost sight of it, my first photos of it this year and the first time I have seen a shrike on the marker stone!
Heard Great Spotted Woodpeckers drumming for the first time this year, Spring is coming.

Great Grey Shrike

Little Owl - sleeping

Blue skies and a dusting of snow this morning. I called in at the Little Owl early on, it was asleep, if the sun hadn't just caught the top of its head I don't think I would have seen it. I watched it for about half an hour but it barely moved so I left it to sleep.
Little Owl - sleeping

Saturday, 17 January 2015

Pink-footed Geese returning north

Part of a skein of about 130 Pink-footed Geese flying NW over Rowsley early this afternoon, the first sign of the changing seasons.The Great Grey Shrike was opposite Sitches Plantation again this morning and around 30 Golden Plover with the Lapwing in fields near the Triangle.
Pink-footed Geese

Sunday, 11 January 2015

Green Woodpecker - Coombs Road, Bakewell

Coombs Road, Hall Dale Wood and the Stanton/Rowsley area are virtually the only places I come across the Green Woodpecker. It's more often heard than seen, so it was pleasing this morning to actually watch one feeding. Still distant but it's a new addition to the blog so can't complain.

Green Woodpecker

Little Egret - River Lathkill at Alport

Simon Roddis sent me a message late yesterday afternoon to say he had seen a Little Egret on the river near the entrance to Alport village. It was too late to have a look last night so made that my starting point this morning.
Fortunately it was still along the river between Bowers Hall and Alport but was quite flighty.
Although the number of records continues to increase in Derbyshire, as the egret continues its northward expansion, it is still a rarity in the Peak District. My last record was in December 2012 although Ken had distant views of 6 birds that were almost certainly Little Egrets in the valley last August.

Little Egret

Saturday, 10 January 2015

Brambling - Bent Lane

Around 100 to 150 Brambling feeding by the roadside on Bent Lane this afternoon, including this superb male which is already loosing the pale tips to the feathers on the head revealing the black of breeding plumage. There were a similar number on Screetham Lane so there has been a significant influx.
Brambling - male

Kestrel in the wind

This Kestrel posed nicely in the gale force winds on the moor this afternoon, the blowing vegetation behind adds to the effect.
Kestrel - female

Great Spotted Woodpecker - Via Gellia

Very windy overnight and so far today. Started on the moor but with some rain as well it was hopeless. Over to Carsington but couldn't locate the Great Northern Diver on very choppy water and back by the Via Gellia.
The feeders had plenty of birds around them, this Great Spotted Woodpecker, Nuthatch and Great, Blue and Coal Tits.
Up to the late 90's the Via Gellia was one of the Derbyshire strongholds of the Marsh Tit but they appear to be entirely absent from this area now and are largely restricted to the dales of the White Peak including Monsal and Chee dales although I have yet to find them in either.
Grey Squirrels were also taking advantage of the feeders.
Great Spotted Woodpecker - male

Grey Squirrel

Sunday, 4 January 2015

Little Owl - Bakewell

What a contrast in the weather today, clear blue skies from the off but cold, -4ยบ as I set out this morning. 
The Great Grey Shrike put in an appearance, again by Sitches Plantation, my first sighting of the year and good to know that the snow has not caused it to move on.
One of the birds I want to get better photos of this year is the Little Owl and I was lucky with my first visit for several months to a potential site at Bakewell. I watched this bird for a couple of hours as it moved through the bushes with an accompanying Blackbird constantly sounding its alarm call.
The Little Owl is widely distributed in the area, but like other owls, seldom seen.
Little Owl

Friday, 2 January 2015

Brown Hare - sheltering from the wind

Although it was a clear sky this morning it was very windy on the moor and cold. Ken pointed out a couple of Brown Hare hunkered down in one of the fields bordering the moor. For both of us, these are the first hares we have seen since the autumn. I think they spend most of their time in wooded areas over the winter and are therefore much less likely to be seen.
Brown Hare

Common Buzzard - Screetham Lane

Well the snow has gone and the roads are clear and with a blue sky this morning it is a much better day than yesterday. I walked around Chatsworth yesterday but other than a male Gooseander on the river there was little of note.
There were at least three Buzzards hunting over the Streatham fields this morning and, surprisingly at least 16 Golden Plover.
Common Buzzard

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