Monday, 25 January 2016

Moorhen - Cromford Canal

In recent weeks I've walked the Cromford Canal, not in one go but in three sections. I was mainly searching for Water Vole but without any success. 
It is worrying that, at least from my records, the Water Vole has disappeared, or if not disappeared certainly declined in number at many of its local strongholds.
At least the Moorhens appear to be doing well and I counted at least 10 pairs of Little Grebe along the canal. 
Surprisingly, I've never posted Moorhen on the blog so that's now rectified.

Tuesday, 19 January 2016

Mountain Hare in the snow

I have wanted to photograph Mountain Hares in the snow for a long while, but it's not that straight forward. 
You need snow off course, which this winter has been in short supply, but too much snow and the roads are closed, too little snow and it defeats the objective.
If the snow is too deep it is very difficult to cross the moors plus I'm carrying my photographic equipment. Today I took both 500mm and 300mm although in the end I only used the 500mm.
Low cloud can also be a problem, during the winter visibility can be reduced to a few metres on the moor for days on end so you need to watch the weather forecast.
Finally, and it really goes without saying, you need the Mountain Hares. 
As usual I went up to the Bleaklow area off the Snake Pass. Driving up I thought the snow had all but disappeared but once past the Snake Pass Inn there was plenty on the tops.
There were plenty of hare foot prints in the snow but it took quite a bit of walking before I located one that was prepared to sit still with me close-by.
Was it worth the effort...a definate yes!

Mountain Hare

Sunday, 17 January 2016

Lesser Redpoll - Bakewell

Just left the snow in the French Alps and back to snow in the Peak District! Whilst I was away Martin Derbyshire sent me a couple of nice photos of Lesser Redpoll coming to his garden feeders in Bakewell. They like Niger seeds but despite my best efforts I've never attracted them to my garden.

Lesser Redpoll (©Martin Derbyshire)

Friday, 8 January 2016

Goshawk in the Peak District

With a brighter start to the morning I decided on a longer walk in the Peak District, it was generally quiet apart from a few Buzzards but this second calendar (2cy) year Goshawk made the trek worthwhile. 
Unless there is a hidden pair of Red Kite somewhere the Goshawk vies with Merlin for Derbyshire's rarest breeding bird of prey and like that species they are mainly in the Peak District.
The 2014 Derbyshire Bird Report records 16 sites in the Peak District for Goshawk and just 10 for Merlin which reflects my impression that the Goshawk is fairing better than the Merlin at present.
The Goshawk is easy to identify in this plumage as the Sparrowhawk has no equivalent plumage and all have barred underparts at this time of year. The strength of the rufous colour on the breast and underwing coverts of 2cy Goshawks is variable and this one is at the stronger coloured end of the spectrum.
I've produced a short article on Northern Goshawk identification and ageing on my Wildlife Diaries blog with more photos if anyone is interested. 
A couple of people have mentioned that they hadn't realised that if you click on a photo you can get a larger image, so that's something to try if you weren't aware.
I'm in the French Alps again next week so updates will be on the Wildlife Diaries blog unless I'm sent any interesting photos taken locally.
Goshawk 2cy (juvenile)

Wednesday, 6 January 2016

Norwegian Fallow Deer - distribution

Managed to find a small group of the Norwegian Fallow Deer this morning near Stanton. Two stags with fine sets of antlers and three younger males. The antlers look slightly orange at this time of year.
I've done an approximate distribution map of these Black or Norwegian Fallow Deer and I'd be interested to hear of any sightings outside this area or where I have put the question marks.
I've never seen any of these deer east of the River Derwent but have seen them either side of the River Wye near Haddon Hall and I think they must cross the Wye somewhere in this area. I was uncertain of their occurrence in Manners Wood until Martin Derbyshire caught several animals on camera traps. They are also now seen in the Coombs Road area and I wonder if they have moved into this area relatively recently.
Norwegian Fallow Deer
Approximate distribution of Norwegian Fallow Deer

Tuesday, 5 January 2016

Short-eared Owl on post

A classic photo of the Short-eared Owl this afternoon. Out hunting in spite of, or perhaps as a result of, the continuing inclement weather. Anyway I make no apologies for posting another photo of this superb owl.
Short-eared Owl

Monday, 4 January 2016

Short-eared Owl on show at last on Beeley Moor

Finally managed to see the Short-eared Owl in something other than darkness this afternoon. A fantastic bird and great to be able to watch it at reasonably close quarters.
It didn't appear to be particularly successful although I did see it take one vole. I'm sure the constant rain can't be making the search for food easy.
Short-eared Owl

Barn Owl - Elton Common

Not much opportunity to see any wildlife, never mind get any photographs, with the current weather. I did have a bit of luck last night though; James had a puncture and was stuck between Hulme End and Warslow so I had gone to pick him up. 
Coming back over Elton Common we came across a Barn Owl hunting by the side of the road at about 17:30.
Fortunately James had his camera and managed a record shot as it hunted quite happily along the road-side verge, we watched it for about 10 mins before it headed off across a field.
Barn Owl

Friday, 1 January 2016

New Year's Day - round-up

Kestrel - male
I did a tour of the area today with no great surprises. Starting on the moor a party of Pink-footed Geese flew over just after 9am, I only heard them calling but Ken had seen them flying West. A pair of Stonechat were in the usual area near Wraggs Quarry with another pair near the Triangle, calling Red Grouse got on the year list.
The light was so poor that I wasn't going to bother photographing this hovering male Kestrel but given the conditions I was quite pleased with the result.
Fallow Deer - fawn

Next I walked round Chatsworth, starting along the river then past the house via Emperor and Swiss Lakes. I'm always hoping for Hawfinch but have never seen them here although Endsor used to be a regular spot for them up to the late 1980's. 
There were several Fallow Deer by the river but most of the herd were on the other side of the road. I have been on the look out for the black or Norwegian Fallow Deer which escaped from Stanton Hall in the 1940's but haven't seen anything more than ones or twos recently. 
Goosander - male
A male Goosander on the river bank is the first male I have seen for a few weeks. There were a few ducks on Emperor lake including both the male Shoveler and female/immature Goldeneye which have been present for a couple of weeks now. No sign of any Mandarin around Chatsworth at the moment, I'm not sure where they go at this time of year although there are still one to two around Rowley. 
I was on the look out/ listening for Crossbill on the walk through the woods but its not been a good year for them and I had no luck today.
Still there is always tomorrow although the weather forecast does not look great for the next few days.

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