Thursday, 14 December 2017

Hawfinch Update

The female Hawfinch is still being seen most days in the Whitworth Park but can be difficult to locate, especially now that the snow has gone. 
On Tuesday Alan Stewardson had a group of 7 Hawfinch flying over the railway line towards the Whitworth from the St Helen's Church direction and today Simon Roddis had 8 birds around St Helen's Church. The birds were feeding in the Darley Dale Yew and adjacent yew trees and I managed to see 7 of them mid-afternoon.

Monday, 11 December 2017

Hawfinch - Whitworth Park, Darley Dale

My last record of Hawfinch in the Darley Dale area was in 2010, prior to then I had occasional sightings each year when they used to breed locally. 
This autumn there has been a huge influx of birds to the UK from the Continent, which must involve several thousand individuals. Locally there have been around 100 birds seen at Carsington and several dozen in the Ogston area but despite searching there had been none in the Darley Dale area until Simon Roddis found a female in the cemetery adjoining Whitworth Park on Saturday. 
I looked for it on Saturday and Sunday, during the persistent snowfall, without success but it was found again this morning by Alan Stewardson in the Whitworth Park. 
Fortunately I was nearby and saw it several times during the morning feeding with Redwing and Chaffinch below Yew and other conifers which were free of snow.
It will be interesting to see if these Continental immigrants stay to supplement the declining UK breeding population.

Hawfinch -female

Sunday, 3 December 2017

Pink-footed Goose - Chatsworth

I always check the Canada Geese along the River Derwent in the hope of another stray goose joining them but without any luck until today when I found this first winter Pink-footed Goose with the flock in front of Chatsworth House. We have plenty of Pink-footed Geese flying over the area during autumn and winter, around 200 flew NW yesterday, so it's not too surprising that a stray bird would join the Canada's.

Pink-footed Goose

Saturday, 25 November 2017

Jay in the first snow of the winter

A significant snowfall on higher ground overnight. Nothing much in Darley Dale but a decent covering on the moor. Everything looks so much brighter in the snow so pleased to get photos of this Jay.
Beeley Moor

Wednesday, 8 November 2017

Merlin and Stonechat in the sunshine

Glorious sunshine today and I managed to catch up with a Merlin that Ken had first seen on 31st October. I had rather distant views but Ken got some great photos, one of which I've posted below.
Merlin - probably a juvenile female (© Ken Smith)

Still several pairs of Stonechat on the moor, perhaps 5 or 6 pairs around Beeley Moor.
Stonechat - male and female

Down at the Whitworth the Water Rail still present this morning along with Kingfisher and the regular Cormorant.

Sunday, 29 October 2017

Water Rail back at Whitworth Park

I can only assume that it is the Water Rail seen at the Whitworth Park last November that has returned again this autumn. First seen by Mary Wilde about a week ago it was still there this morning but very difficult to see. 
There is no mud at the moment so it is hidden in the vegetation most of the time. I just caught it as it decided to swim from the bank to the island, where it would be almost impossible to see. 
Water Rail

Tuesday, 24 October 2017

A Vestal finally makes it to Darley Dale

With the warm evenings persisting I've continued to run the moth trap in the hope of catching a migrant from the south. Last night it paid off with a single Vestal in the trap this morning. The mild southerly winds have carried large numbers to the south coast but they are scarcer inland and few get this far north.
It's the fourth record for my garden with one in 2011 and two in 2013.
The Vestal

Friday, 20 October 2017

Winter thrush arrival

Lots of flocks of winter thrushes, in groups of 40 to 50 birds, were arriving from the coast and passing over Beeley Moor this morning. Mainly Redwing but with a few Fieldfare also several Brambling which were my first of the autumn.

Saturday, 2 September 2017

Common Lizards - Flash Lane

Plenty of Common Lizards soaking up the sunshine this morning including some youngsters. The top photo is a composite of two shots in order to have both in focus, unfortunately I have a central area between the two that wasn't in focus on either shot so should have taken three!
The middle photo looks like an adult with a regrown tail and the bottom photo is a youngster only 4 cm long and still with a very dark tail.

Common Lizard

Wednesday, 30 August 2017

Marsh Harrier - a migrant over Harewood Moor

This cream crowned Marsh Harrier flew rapidly SE over Harewood Moor this afternoon and looks like a juvenile.
With the dramatic increase in the UK breeding population we do appear to be getting a few more sightings over the moor, usually on Spring or Autumn passage.
Marsh Harrier

Monday, 28 August 2017

Whinchat = Beeley Moor

I've no evidence that Whinchat bred on Beeley Moor this year so this juvenile photographed on a fence on the edge of the moor was probably a local migrant from East Moor or Big Moor where there is a larger breeding population.
Whinchat - juvenile

Wednesday, 23 August 2017

Water Vole - Rowsley

The Water Voles at Caudwell's Mill and adjacent River Wye appear to have had a tough time in recent years. They were fairly widespread there up to late 2014 when they disappeared entirely. I found one dead at that time and with hindsight I wish I had done more to establish the cause.
In 2015 and 2016 I saw very little evidence of their presence although I did here several reports of sightings. At the start of this year I started to see regular signs of droppings but the Water Voles themselves remained elusive although I did manage some brief sightings.
As we have moved in to the summer sightings have become more frequent but they remain very shy, which may not be such a bad thing!
Water Vole

Saturday, 19 August 2017

Two striking caterpillars at Wraggs Quarry

Very windy today with some rain showers, birds were few and far between on the moors so I decided to look for a Poplar Hawkmoth caterpillar which Alan Stewardson had found earlier in the week. It took some finding in a Sallow bush, despite its size (6cm).  
Whilst looking for the Poplar Hawkmoth Alan and I also found a Puss Moth caterpillar.
Both are common and widespread moths locally but not seen too often.
Poplar Hawkmoth caterpillar
Puss Moth caterpillar

Sparrowhawk - juvenile

Had a lucky encounter with a juvenile Sparrowhawk. It chased a small bird in to a bush close to me and I just managed to get a photo before it carried on the chase in to another bush.
Sparrowhawk - juvenile

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

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