Thursday, 27 March 2008

Derbyshire Grouse and bacon butties I've had a few!

On Tuesday,with John Hague and Brian Moore we went to Derbyshire and South Yorkshire for the day to do some birding.
Leaving at six in the morning from Leicester,we started birding in Chesterfield about an hour later to look for four Waxwings in Cutthorpe which had been around for a few days.
As we got out of the car, a couple of local bird ringers told us that the Waxwings had flew off just a few minutes before we had arrived.
So we waited for the next hour to see if the birds returned, but as there was no show of the Waxwings during the hour so we moved onto Cutthroat bridge, near Ladybower Reservoir to look for Ring Ouzels.
Walking onto the moorland, the first bird we saw was a nice looking male Red Grouse calling not too far from the footpath. Scanning the surrounding area, we counted at least another ten Red Grouse.
Moving up a small gully in the valley, we saw more Red Grouse on the moorland, a fly-by Curlew and a pair of Stonechats feeding on the nearby vegetation.
Maybe we were a bit early for the returning Ring Ouzels, as there was no sign of the birds in the surrounding moorland.
Getting back to the car, we then stopped at the nearby Ladybower Inn for a bit of breakfast.
Although breakfast had finished being served when we got there, the Inn staff did provide us with a few bacon baguettes and a nice cup of coffee. As you can imagine the baguettes were consumed pretty quickly!
After our breakfast pit stop we moved onto "Windy Corner" watchpoint next to Howden Reservoir to look for Raptors.
Parking the car by "Windy Corner",opposite the Reservoir,we started to scan the nearby moorland and forestry. After about ten minutes of scanning, John picked up a male Goshawk flying over the reservoir, and then I picked up a couple of Peregrines in the same area.
Over the next hour or so, we saw at least five Buzzards, another two Goshawks, a Raven, a single Sparrowhawk and two Kestrels in the surrounding area.
After the hour watching raptors the weather changed, from bright sunny intervals, to cloudy conditions with the odd snow flurry, so at this point we decided to move down to the Fairholmes visitor centre by Derwent dam.
Walking around the dam area, we saw good numbers of Siskins and had a poor view of a couple of Crossbills feeding in the larches above the dam.
After a brief stop to eat a very hot derbyshire pasty and cup of coffee, we moved on to Strines and Midhope, to look for some more moorland species.
Driving slowly down Strines road, we excellent views of a few Red Grouse standing on the roadside posts, and as you can imagine we took a few photos by the roadside.
At Midhope we saw more Red Grouse, and strangely a small group of three Pink-footed Geese feeding in a field next to the watchpoint.
Our last but one stop of the day was at Beeley Moor,were after a brief search of the surrounding moorland we had good views of a pair of Merlins.
The last stop of the day was at Ogston Reservoir to look for a couple of Common Scoters which had been reported earlier in the day.
We find the Scoter feeding off the dam, but then while scanning the reservoir I found what I thought was a distant male Scaup. To which John commented about the size of the bird, and it looked more like a Lesser Scaup! After checking on the features of the distant bird, we gave Birdnet a ring about the sighting, as something did not quite match up with the bird.
We were told that a good looking Aytha hybrid duck had a been around for a couple of weeks, and looked like a Lesser Scaup.
So we decided to take a closer look at the bird from the hides. Viewing the bird from the hide, after a few agonising minutes, we all decided that the bird showed just to much black on the bill, and the head shape was not right for a Lesser Scaup.
At the end of the day, a slight disappointment about the hybrid duck, we all commented about how excellent the day had been and the quality of sightings we had seen during the day.
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