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

Tuesday, 14 March 2017

The Rook in Darley Dale

One of the first avian signs of Spring is activity in the local rookeries. My impression is that the number of Rooks nesting locally in Darley Dale is stable, which is a similar status to elsewhere in Derbyshire. There are four small rookeries in the village;
Seven nests at the Red House Riding Stables,
Five nests at Darley Dale Station,
Twelve nests at St Helen's Church, and
Seven nests by the A6 at the northern edge of the village.

Rookery by the A6 at the Northern entrance to the village

Monday, 13 March 2017

Adder - Big Moor

I was expecting a cloudy start to the day so was pleasantly surprised to see blue skies first thing this morning. I decided to take the opportunity to have a look at the Adder on Big Moor. Although it was a cold wind there were at least seven male Adder basking in the sunshine.

Adder - male

Tuesday, 7 March 2017

Goosander, male - Bakewell

The presence of Goosander in the centre of Bakewell is very unpredictable, but when they are there it's a great chance to get closer to a bird that is normally very shy and unapproachable. 
What a difference it makes to see the male in sunshine!

Goosander - male

Saturday, 4 March 2017

Hooded Crow still present Uppertown

One or two Crossbill along Flash Lane this morning and my first Curlew calling on the moor, the first birds returned about a week ago. Stonechat numbers have increased with 7 or 8 birds seen this morning.
Had another look at the Hooded Crow on Cullumbell Lane but despite much improved weather the crows were feeding well away from the road so the photo isn't much better than yesterday.
Hooded Crow

Friday, 3 March 2017

Hooded Crow - Alicehead Road

A surprise this morning to hear that a Hooded Crow had been present for a couple of days around Alicehead Road and Cullumbell Lane, Uppertown. I couldn't get there until this afternoon but soon located it, in the constant rain. It was feeding loosely with a group of around 30 Carrion Crows in a sheep field.
Although it was once a fairly regular visitor to Derbyshire it has become much rarer during the last couple of decades to the extent that the last record in the County appears to be in 2007. The reduction in numbers which has been seen throughout England is though to be linked to northern populations becoming less migratory. 

Hooded Crow

Wednesday, 1 March 2017

Bullfinch in the garden

Although Bullfinch are widespread in the area, I usually see them feeding on the moorland edges particularly in the Autumn and Winter sometimes in double figure flocks. They are a scarce but welcome visitor to my garden at this time of year, feeding on the fresh Hawthorn buds.
Bullfinch - male

Tuesday, 28 February 2017

Goshawk v Raven

Ravens calling overhead whilst I was walking on the moors today caused me to look up to see two birds interacting with a second calendar year female Goshawk. They were quite distant but I thought the photos gave a useful size comparison.
The Goshawk was not that much smaller than the Ravens and was instigating the interaction, chasing and dive bombing one or other of the Ravens for several minutes.
Goshawk 2nd calendar year female with Raven

Sunday, 26 February 2017

Red Kite - Haddon Hall

With the persistent dull, cloudy weather I have not been taking many photos, or for that matter seeing many birds! So, it made a nice change today to catch this Red Kite sailing over Haddon Hall. 
Red Kites have been in very short supply over the winter, but there have been one or two records north of Derby in the last week or so and perhaps this is the same wandering individual.
Red Kite

Friday, 3 February 2017

Green Woodpecker - Bakewell

What a difference it makes to have a bit of sunshine. Plenty of Buzzards on the wing today with at least one pair displaying. A Green Woodpecker was calling on the outskirts of Bakewell and I eventually managed to get a photo of the male, showing the red centre to the moustachial streak which separates it from the female which has an all black moustachial streak.
Green Woodpecker - male

Friday, 27 January 2017

Redwings - Matlock

No sign of any Waxwing this morning by the M&S car park in Matlock but still plenty of Redwing feeding on the rapidly diminishing berries.


Thursday, 26 January 2017

Waxwings - Matlock

There were 30 Waxwing yesterday feeding on a large Cotoneaster bush by the entrance to the M&S car park but I don't think they were there for long. This morning there was still a single Waxwing feeding on the berries with several Redwing but another 5 Waxwing landed on a bush nearby.
Ken sent me one of his photos from this morning which is amazing given the heavily overcast conditions.
Waxwing (© Ken Smith)
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