Friday, 27 February 2015

Dotted Border

The warmer evening on Wednesday, I recorded a minimum temperature of 8 Centigrade, resulted in a few moths flying. I recorded my first Dotted Border and March Moths of the year with 5 Pale Brindled Beauty and 2 Chestnut.
A brief visit to the moor this evening add Curlew to my Darley Dale year list.
Dotted Border

Sunday, 22 February 2015

Little Owl activity

I've continued to call in on the Little Owls near Bakewell. This morning one bird was very obvious and attracted the attention of a pair of Magpies, you can just about see how the owl puffed its feathers up to increase his size. They soon lost interest however, and the Little Owl moved to a more hidden location.

Little Owl and Magpies

Magpie with damaged bill

I didn't notice when I took this photo (not surprisingly!) that the Magpie's upper mandible is missing, presumably broken off. Its unusual for a bird to survive with such an injury so it may have occurred recently.
Magpie with damaged bill

Saturday, 21 February 2015

Kestrel - female

 Mixed weather this morning with regular light snow showers and a cold NW wind. Didn't spend much time at Beeley, several Red Grouse but not much else. This Kestrel posed nicely and appeared to be checking a potential nest site.

Friday, 20 February 2015

Great Grey Shrike hunting behaviour

The first Curlew of the year goes to Roger with a single on Screetham Lane on Wednesday whilst Ken and Mick Taylor recorded the first local Red Kite of the year on Flash Lane on Tuesday.
The Great Grey Shrike has become very attached to the Triangle on Beeley Moor during the past 10 days spending most of its time on top of the medium heigh (2m to 4m) Birch trees. Watching the ground intently it is swooping down every 4 or 5 minutes to take something which it eats in seconds on the ground before returning to either the same or a nearby tree. It's not been possible to see what it's taking but I would guess it probably small beetles of some kind. There will be caterpillars around but I think it would most likely carry these back to it perch to eat and wouldn't have time to eat them on the ground as it is doing.
If anyone has seen what it's feeding on I would be interested to know.
It has been seen hovering on occasion and Ken got some great photos in the sunshine about a week ago.
Great Grey Shrike after its prey
Great Grey Shrike hovering (c.Ken Smith)

Monday, 16 February 2015

Pale Brindled Beauty - first moths of the year

The slightly warmer temperature on Saturday, it was about 7 Centigrade at 8pm, encouraged me to try the moth trap and I caught one each of the Pale Brindled Beauty and the Chestnut.
Pale Brindled Beauty

Sunday, 15 February 2015

Hawfinch - Cromford

Whilst in Cromford to photograph the Stinking Hellebore (below) I thought I would have a look for the Hawfinches and was very pleased to see seven birds almost immediately, in the tops of distant trees by the entrance to Willesley Castle. Seven is the largest count I have heard of so far this winter.
The birds were coming down occasionally to feed in the Yew trees but the light was very poor, still can't complain, nice views. That is a very large bill for a finch!


Stinking Hellebore - Cromford

Driving through Cromford yesterday I saw a flowering Hellebore by the roadside at the traffic lights on the A6. I thought it was the Stinking Hellebore but went back today to check and get some photos, there were at least three flowering plants.
The Derbyshire Flora describes the Stinking Hellebore as a rare native of woods and screes and I've included the distribution map below.

The plant is poisonous although it was used as a remedy for worms in the 18th Century. Gilbert White remarked on the use of the Stinking Hellebore as a cure for worms;

'Where it killed not the patient, it would certainly kill the worms; but the worst of it is, it will sometime kill both.'

Stinking Hellebore (Helleborus foetidus)

Stinking Hellebore provisional distribution from the Derbyshire Flora

Saturday, 14 February 2015

Fallow Deer - Stanton

Came across a small group of the melanic Fallow Deer near Stanton, there were several stags with them including this one which has a decent set of antlers.

Fallow Deer stag

Snowdrops - Stanton

Still got a way to go but Spring is on its way, plenty of Snowdrops in flower now. These were by the road towards Stanton.


Little Egret still on River Lathkill

Very overcast this morning with a thick mist on the tops so activity restricted to the valleys, Ken called to say he had seen the Little Egret near Bowers Hall on the Alport road but it was distant. It has presumably been in the area since Simon's first sighting on 10th January.
Little Egret

Tuesday, 10 February 2015

Little Owl - update

The light was terrible today but I had an hour of light after work so decided to check up on the Bakewell Little Owls. For the first time I may have seen two birds, the second bird was about 100m away in an Ash tree so took some finding but managed a record shot.
Little Owl

Sunday, 8 February 2015

Dipper - Rowsley

I mentioned yesterday that the Dippers were now singing and I returned to a regular spot this morning and caught this bird on its song post. What particularly caught my attention was the colour and texture of the water behind the bird.
Glorious sunshine today but haven't seen much else yet.

Saturday, 7 February 2015

Sunset over Whitesprings plantation

Fantastic sunset this evening. This is the view from Flash Lane looking West towards Whitesprings Plantation.
Sunset from Flash Lane

Great Grey Shrike - Beeley Triangle

The Great Grey Shrike has been more regular around the Triangle the last few days. It was very overcast this morning but for pale birds like this the poor light is not too much of a problem and tends to show a bit more feather detail then when it's sunny. It was occasionally flying on to the ground so I presume it was after voles or shrews but did not see it catch anything.
Great Grey Shrike

Grey Wagtail - Rowsley

Plenty of activity along the river this morning with singing Dipper and several Grey Wagtail. I photographed this bird just as another flew over calling causing this one to adopt a flat backed posture. This looks like an adult male judging by the extent of yellow on the breast but still lacking the black throat of summer.
Grey Wagtail - male

Sunday, 1 February 2015

Little Owl

Haven't seen the Little Owl the last couple of times I have passed but it was there this afternoon, another sleepy shot. I am hoping it will nest in the area and that I can follow it as the seasons progress.
Little Owl

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