Monday, 14 August 2017

Bank Vole feeding in the open

Twice in two days I've come across Bank Voles feeding quite unconcerned out in the open. On each occasion my initial thought was that the animal must be ill but both were able to run for cover when they wanted to. In the photo below a finger was used to push a stalk of grass out of the way and I've left the finger in to show how close we were able to get to it. I'm assuming both animals were very young and perhaps freshly emerged from the nest.
Bank Vole

Kestrel and Sparrowhawk

Kestrels and Sparrowhawks generally appear to get on pretty well together or at least tolerate each others presence so it was unusual today to see a pair of Kestrel in aerial acrobatics with a Sparrowhawk for several minutes today. 
The Kestrels looked like an adult pair and the Sparrowhawk a young female so it my just have been high spirits of the youngster that triggered the interaction.
Kestrels and Sparrowhawk

Red Grouse family on Beeley Moor

The Red Grouse is quite scarce on Beeley Moor so I was pleased to see a male with three youngsters today. I've stated before that numbers have declined during the past couple of decades and I'd be surprised if there are more than five pairs in the Beeley Moor area. 
I've no idea why the numbers are so low. Its a good while since I've seen shooting on the moors so I'm sure that is not the reason. Although numbers may well have been higher when they were managed for shooting. Red Grouse are susceptible to a number of diseases and parasites so that may be a factor.
Whatever the reason it would be a sad day if they were lost from the moors.
The flowering heather looks amazing at the moment.
Red Grouse male with juvenile

Sunday, 6 August 2017

Juveniles on the wing

I've mentioned previously that Green Woodpecker is a scarce bird in the area so I was pleased yesterday to see a juvenile on 70 Acre Plantation I also had a very smart juvenile Wheatear in the same area which is the first of the birds that pass through during the late summer and autumn. Although the Wheatear breeds as close as Harrington they are a very scarce breeder around Beeley.
Green Woodpecker - juvenile
Wheatear - 1st winter
On Friday I had the very unusual sighting of a Little Egret flying across Harewood Moor. Perhaps heading towards Carsington where there are at least 6 at the moment. Amazing how the numbers of Little Egret have increased in the UK in the last few years. 
Poor photo but an interesting record.
Little Egret

Tuesday, 1 August 2017

Broad-leaved Helleborine - Via Gellia

Having finally caught up with Dark-red Helleborine I decided to do a further search for that plant in the Via Gellia. It's a bit late really as it mainly flowers in the month of July but I did find several examples of its close, and much commoner, relative the Broad-leaved Helleborine.
The Broad-leaved Helleborine flowers from July to September so any helleborines seen from now onwards are likely to be Broad-leaved.

Broad-leaved Helleborine
The colour of the flower varies considerably, some were almost white whilst others were quite pink but never as red as the Dark-red Helleborine. I have seen it several times in Clough Wood and looking at the Derbyshire Flora map it has been recorded quite widely in the dales around the confluence of the rivers Wye and Derwent.
Distribution of Broad-leaved Helleborine from the Derbyshire Flora

Saturday, 29 July 2017

Dark-red Helleborine in the Peak District

I finally caught up with Dark-red Helleborine today, one of the rarest orchids found in the Peak District. It's only regularly recorded from Cressbrook Dale, Coombs Dale and Priestcliffe Lees but has been recorded in the Via Gellia and Biggin Dale. 
Dark-red Helleborine from the Derbyshire Flora

There was an infamous incident in July 2008 when a solitary plant was uprooted and stolen from Coombs Dale SSSI, so I had best not give the location of today's sighting. 
They flower during the month of July so are at the end of their flowering season now and are past their best.

Dark-red Helleborine
Thanks to John Bradley in particular for pointing me in the right direction.
In common with other areas that are good for flowers there were plenty of butterflies including Dark Green Fritillary and the Six-spot Burnet moth.
Dark Green Fritillary
Six-spot Burnet

Thursday, 27 July 2017

Whimbrel over Beeley Moor

Despite the frequent heavy showers yesterday I spent the afternoon on the moor. I wasn't expecting to see much but after a particularly heavy downpour at around 2:45 the sky cleared briefly and I was very surprised to see a party of 12 Whimbrel flying directly towards me. They carried on straight overhead, heading SW.
We see, or hear, one or two Whimbrel on passage most years but 12 is a record for me and the highest count I am aware of in the Beeley area.
Whimbrel part of a flock of 12

Monday, 17 July 2017

Marbled White doing well at Clough Wood

Since the first records in 2015 the Marbled White have continued to increase in numbers at Clough Wood. The highest count I am aware of is of at least 12 at the start of July from Alan Stewardson and I think there was probably a similar number on the wing there this morning.
Marbled White
Some were showing signs of wear but this individual looked very fresh. I don't think we will ever know whether they arrived naturally or with a helping hand but, whatever their origins, it great to see them doing well locally.

Saturday, 15 July 2017

Common Shrew - Beeley Moor

Finally back home after my trip around Northern Europe. 
Up on the moors this morning with Roger and had an unusual encounter with a Common Shrew. It ran out in to the road but instead of running straight across, as they usually do,  it stopped by the roadside where it appeared to be nibbling a small piece of wood. It stayed long enough for me to grab my camera then it then ran around on the edge of the road, still in the open and actually ran between my legs. A few minutes later it reappeared in the middle of the road so I chased it in to the vegetation for fear of it becoming a road casualty.
Not uncommon locally but I doubt I have more than a dozen sightings in a year.
Common Shrew

Monday, 1 May 2017

Travels abroad

Today I start my journey to Poland to continue the tour of Europe I started last year. All being well I'll be away until the end of June but will post any interesting photos or sightings that are sent to me during that period. 
You can follow my progress on the twitter feed, in the right hand column of this post and I'll also be posting updates on my Wildlife Diaries blog.
Alan Stewartson recorded the first Wood Warbler in the Darley Dale area today, their breeding season will be just about finished when I return.

Friday, 28 April 2017

Stonechat - Beeley Moor

It looks like there are at least 7 pairs of Stonechat nesting on Beeley Moor this year which is up on recent years, perhaps due to the very mild winter. Several pairs are already feeding young, so with some decent weather over the next few months they could have a successful breeding season.
Stonechat - male

Common Oak Purple, Dyseriocrania subpurpurella - Halldale Wood

Hundreds of the tiny day flying micro moth Dyseriocrania subpurpurella flying in Clough Wood at the moment. You need to see them up close to appreciate their colour.
Dyseriocrania subpurpurella

Saturday, 22 April 2017

Cuckoo - first of the year on Flash Lane

Great to hear the call of a Cuckoo first thing this morning on Flash Lane. It was distant but I took a record photo.

Monday, 17 April 2017

Fox Moth larva - Beeley Moor

Both the Fox Moth and its close relation the Northern Eggar have larva which over winter before pupating in the Spring. The larva of both species may be encountered on sunnier days in March and April when they get some benefit from the sunshine prior to pupation, but do not feed at this time of year.
This Fox Moth larva was following a track along Beeley Moor yesterday morning.

Fox Moth - larva

Friday, 14 April 2017

Common Redstart returns to Rowsley

On a very overcast and wet Good Friday the first returning male Redstart was in full song at Rowsley early this morning. Brightening up an otherwise dull start to the Easter weekend.
At least 5 Wheatear in fields bordering Beeley Moor.
Redstart - male in song

Tuesday, 11 April 2017

Osprey - Rowsley

My first Osprey of the year spent an hour or so in the trees bordering the river at Rowsley yesterday before carrying on north just after 7pm. 
Ken had a bird over Screetham Lane last week and there have been several sightings at both Ogston and Carsington in recent weeks of what has now become a regular migrant through the area. 
Spring birds tend to pass through quickly, wanting to get to their nesting areas, whereas autumn birds are more likely to linger on their southward migration.

Monday, 10 April 2017

Pied Flycatcher returns to Clough Wood

I went looking for Pied Flycatcher in Clough Wood last week, rather optimistically, on the back of reports of early returning migrants but without success. This morning however I was greeted by the males simple song and had smashing views of a male feeding and singing in the oaks. This is still several days earlier than I have recorded them previously.

Pied Flycatcher - male

Sunday, 9 April 2017

Emperor Moth - Beeley Moor

As anticipated, the sunshine and higher temperatures has brought out the Emperor Moth. The males, like this one, are day flying and search for the females scent using its feathered antennae. The females are nocturnal and can occasionally be found sat in the open during the day awaiting the male. 
It is quite common on the moor and can been seen on sunny days from mid April to mid May, the male has a very fast irregular flight and tends to look all dark unless seen at close quarters. 
Emperor Moth -male

Saturday, 8 April 2017

Common Lizard and Garden Tiger larva basking in the sun

It's not just us that enjoy the sunshine, had my first Common Lizard of the year warming in the sunshine and a single Garden Tiger larva also benefiting from the weather. They overwinter as the larva but then need sunshine in the Spring before they pupate.
First Swallows locally today and single Tree Pipit.
Common Lizard
Garden Tiger larva

Thursday, 6 April 2017

Philedonides lunana (Heath Twist) - Beeley Moor

The tiny micro moth Philedonides lunana (Heath Twist) was on the wing today. It's about the only moth on the moors at the moment but the Emperor should be flying soon if it stays sunny.
Philedonides lunana

Wednesday, 5 April 2017

Willow Warbler - Flash Lane

Went back for another look at the Willow Warblers on Flash Lane in the sunshine today. There were at least 10 around the recently replanted conifers but none anywhere else.

Willow Warbler

Tuesday, 4 April 2017

First singing Blackcap of the Spring

Came across my first singing Blackcap of the Spring at Clough Wood today. I heard several reports of over-wintering birds in the Matlock area in the late winter but this is the first song I have heard this year.
Blackcap - male

Fallow Deer population - Clough Wood

I encountered two herds of black Fallow Deer close together at Clough Wood today totalling 53 animals which I suspect is close to the total population in this area. There were no adult bucks with them which I usually see on the Stanton side of the hills.

Fallow Deer

Caloptilia stigmatella (White-triangle Slender)

Caught a nice example of Caloptilia stigmatella at home this morning, a micro moth which is probably fairly common locally. It feeds on Willow and Poplar and over winters as an adult.
Caloptilia stigmatella

Monday, 3 April 2017

Dipper in Black & White

Nice views of Dipper again this morning, a male that briefly sang, the females should be sitting on eggs now. The Dipper was nicely lit but it its surrounds were in shadow so I have edited it in black and white for a changes.

Saturday, 1 April 2017

First Willow Warblers of the year

The first Willow Warblers in Derbyshire were reported yesterday so I was pleased to come across four singing males near Flash Lane this morning. Strangely all four birds were within 20m of each other and these were the only birds encountered this morning which may imply they arrived together. 
It was raining so I didn't bother with the camera but I did get a nice photo of a resting Mute Swan at Rowsley. This male appears to be unpaired at the moment.
Mute Swan - male

Friday, 31 March 2017

Oystercatchers at Chatsworth

Still feeling very Spring like with warmer temperatures over the last couple of days but apart from an increase in the number of Sand Martin on both the Wye and Derwent I've not added any summer migrants. 
A pair of Oystercatcher at Chatsworth is interesting though, I had a single bird around Chatsworth last year but perhaps this is a breeding pair which would be the first time in the immediate Darley Dale area I think.

Another bird which looks like it could breed in the area is the Greylag Goose which I am seeing more frequently in the area with 5 seen this morning.
Greylag Goose

Tuesday, 28 March 2017

Sand Martin back at Rowsley

On a rather grey morning the Sand Martins finally returned to Rowsley. I say finally because they have been in the south of the County for about ten days but the cooler weather since the middle of last week appeared to slow the northerly passage of our Spring migrants. At least 7 birds over the river and it's good to have them back.

Sand Martin

Sunday, 19 March 2017

Cladonia lichen - Beeley Moor

The weather was sunnier than forecast today but I didn't manage to get out until the afternoon. There were several Crossbill on Flash Lane but mainly in flight. On the moor I came across this Cladonia lichen with strikingly bright red fruits. I regularly see the British Soldier Lichen (Cladonia cristatella) but I think this may be Cladonia diversa although the identification and nomenclature of members of the Cladonia family seems to be rather complex.
Cladonia diversa

Saturday, 18 March 2017

Long-tailed Tit nest - Rowsley

The nest of the Long-tailed Tit is one of the most amazing constructions in the birding world. It can take a month to construct and it is reported that there can be over 6000 individual components, usually lichen, moss and feathers bound with spiders webs. Once the leaves on this Hawthorn hedge open the nest will be completely hidden.
Long-tailed Tit nest

Thursday, 16 March 2017

Waxwing - Stone Edge

A call from Ken put me on to a flock of 23 Waxwing at Stone Edge this morning, just before the Red Lion by the public phone box. Can't imagine these hanging around for too much longer. There were hundreds of Fieldfare moving North this morning over the moor.

Wednesday, 15 March 2017

First Chiffchaff

Always nice to see and hear the first Chiffchaff of the year and I got mine today on Flash Lane. The first birds arrived back at Carsington around 10th March so it's taken me a while to catch up. Also had my first of the day flying Orange Underwing moth and the first Wheatear was seen on Beeley Moor today.


Caloptilia falconipennella (Scarce Alder Slender) - Darley Dale

With the sudden increase in both day and night time temperatures I ran the moth trap on 11th March and was rewarded with 11 species of macro moth, including a couple of Yellow Horned and an Oak Beauty. 
I also caught two micro moths, one was clearly Acleris cristana but the other was an unfamiliar Caloptilia. After some searching on the internet I'm fairly certain it is the autumn form of Caloptilia falconipennella, which over winters as an adult moth. It's common name, Scarce Alder Slender, indicates both its food plant and its national status. It's another moth which appears to be spreading northwards with records in Bedfordshire (2004), Northamptonshire (2011), , Leicestershire (2011) and in Nottinghamshire in 2012 and again this year at Attenborough NR. 
It is just 6mm long, so easily overlooked and I suspect that this may be the first record for Derbyshire although if it has managed to get to the Derbyshire Dales it must also occur further south in the County.
Caloptilia falconipennella
UK Records of Caloptilia falconipennella ©NBN Gateway

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