Tuesday, 24 March 2015

Great Grey Shrike - another prey item

The Great Grey Shrike has been reported feeding on various food items during the past week or so including several more lizards and a Blue Tit, today I watched it catch and eat a species of bumblebee. There was a report of it chasing a Reed Bunting which I had thought may be a bit on the large size until a saw the photographs on Twitter of the Midhope bird in South Yorkshire carrying a Jack Snipe, taken at the weekend.
Great Grey Shrike with bumblebee

Fallow Deer - Stanton-in-Peak

A small group of the melanic Fallow Deer just below Stanton today.

Fallow Deer

Sunday, 22 March 2015

Mountain Hare and Golden Plover - Snake Pass

I took a friend, who had never seen Mountain Hare, up to the Snake Pass area today and we were fortunate with the weather as the sun came out shortly after we arrived. The hares we saw were still very pale so relatively easy to see. 
Whilst we were there we also had several pairs of Golden Plover and I am always surprised how quickly they are back on the nesting grounds. We still have around 150 in the Screatham Lane area so conclude that these birds must be heading much further north and hence delay their departure. Anyway great to see them up close in full 'golden' plumage.
Unfortunately there was a lot of heat haze with the sunshine which spoilt the photos somewhat but gives me a good excuse to go back.

Golden Plover & Mountain Hare

Saturday, 21 March 2015

Solar eclipse

I didn't manage to get out yesterday with the camera for the solar eclipse but Ken has sent me a couple of pictures taken from Screetham Lane and, as Ken noted, the pictures are more atmospheric with the cloud which had threatened to spoil the event.

Solar eclipse (copyright Ken Smith)

First Wheatear of the year

My first Wheatear of the year this morning on Beeley Moor. There were at least two sightings earlier in the week with singles at Beeley Triangle and Ramsey Reservoir on 17th March.
 The Great Grey Shrike still showing on the Triangle this morning and Ken had a Red Kite over Hackney yesterday.
Wheatear - male

Peregrine Falcon - Beeley

Several sightings of Peregrine this morning with this bird circling over Beeley village.
Peregrine Falcon

Sunday, 15 March 2015

Dipper portrait

Plenty of Dipper activity at the moment, this is a singing male on the River Bradford.

Water Vole - Youlgreave

Finally caught up with Water Vole, surprisingly my first for the year. It's not for want of trying, I had concluded that they had gone from Cauldwells Mill until Ken saw one last week but I had seen a stone with vole droppings on it at Youlgreave and after several visits one finally appeared this morning.
My first Chiffchaff of the year singing at Rowsley but otherwise quiet.
Water Vole

Saturday, 14 March 2015

Whooper Swans heading back north

Since the middle of the week there has been a major northward movement of Whooper Swans across the Midlands with 47 at Carsington and presumably the same birds over Wyver Lane yesterday as well as smaller parties elsewhere in Derbyshire. This morning there were 96 reported from Carsington and 40 at Ogston. It was probably this latter group that Ken, Mel and I saw in the distance from Beeley Triangle flying up the Derwent valley just before 09:30. We had also seen a smaller group over Flash Lane at 8:05.
The other highlight for me was a Redshank flushed from Wragg's Quarry at first light.
Whooper Swans (Ken Smith)

Friday, 13 March 2015

First Yellow Horned Moth of the year

Despite some fairly heavy showers overnight it was my best catch of the year with 20 moths of 7 species which included my first Yellow Horned, Clouded Drab and Hebrew Character of the year. The Yellow Horned's name refers to the antennae colour which are actually more orange than yellow. 
It is a scarce moth in the County but the Darley Dale area appears to be one of its strongholds. It's probably widespread in the surrounding birch woodlands but there is not much moth trapping done in these areas at this time of year.
Yellow Horned

Sunday, 8 March 2015

Dipper - a lucky encounter

It rained for most of the morning from around 10am but brightened late afternoon. James asked if I wanted to have a look for water voles, which seemed like a good idea so we decided to try the River Bradford at Youlgreave. We found quite a few droppings and signs of recent activity but no water vole but we did get nice views of a Dipper so can't complain. 
Ken let me know that Curlew are back in number with around 20 on the moor today.

Saturday, 7 March 2015

Adders enjoying the sunshine on Big Moor

With today's sunshine I decided have a look for my first Adders of the Spring on Big Moor with a close friend, Richard Hart. We were not disappointed with at least 6 Adders enjoying the late morning sunshine.


Oak Beauty - warmer weather at last

Yesterday's warmer weather produced a few more moths on the wing last night including 2 Oak Beauty and Common Quaker which were new for the year. Neither are rare but I only catch the Oak Beauty in one's and two's during the early Spring.
Oak Beauty

Friday, 6 March 2015

Great Grey Shrike with vole

Well, there is no doubt what this shrike is eating. I saw the vole first, spiked on the birch tree branch on Beeley Triangle, and waited whilst the shrike was hunting elsewhere but after about an hour it flew back to the vole for a snack.

Great Grey Shrike with vole

Sunday, 1 March 2015

Buzzard and Crow

As the breeding season approaches there is an increasing level of interaction as birds pass through others territories. This Buzzard came too close to the Crows selected nest site and was rapidly chased away.
Common Buzzard mobbed by Carrion Crow
The Great Grey Shrike was again in Wragg's Quarry this morning but I was still unable to identify what it was feeding on. It's a small beetle I think, I saw it disgorge another pellet so may have a look for it later.

Great Grey Shrike with insect food item

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