Saturday, 18 April 2015

Holiday snaps

Lyn & I have just come back from a short break in the Peak District, and in time-honoured fashion I am going to subject you to my holiday snaps. However, as I doubt you want to see pictures of me or Lyn grinning at each other, or tons of photos of Chatsworth House (nice though it was) I am going to concentrate on the birding highlights.

So, on the way up we stopped at Carsington Water. This is a great venue for us because the excellent disabled facilities allow Lyn the opportunity to share my passion for birding. We basically headed straight for the Wildlife Centre and recorded what we saw.

First up was a Black-tailed Godwit which was feeding reasonably close to the hide. The log-book said it had been there yesterday, but as I hadn't checked that I still got the frisson that goes with a surprise discovery.

Black-tailed Godwit

After that, I concentrated on birds I do not expect to see at Morton Bagot any time soon.

Great Crested Grebe
Tree Sparrows
It is sad to be putting Tree Sparrows on, but since they disappeared from the patch over the 2012/2013 winter, there seems little immediate prospect of them returning.

Willow Tit
On our journey back to the car-park I heard the once familiar "dzerr dzerr dzerr" call of a Willow Tit, and managed a couple of record shots. Although Marsh Tit is a familiar Morton Bagot bird, I have never recorded Willow Tit there, or anywhere  nearby. It is quite possible that they occurred in the years before I started going, but their population has been in free-fall over the last 20 years, and I doubt I will ever record one on the patch.

Speaking of record shots, I was aware of one scarce bird which has wintered at Carsington Water, but I wasn't expecting to see it.

Great Northern Diver
Not just a Great Northern Diver, but an almost in summer plumage Great Northern Diver. A pity it was about a mile away.

The following day was cold and grey. I had high hopes of Beeley Moor, but the best bird I could rustle up was a female Stonechat. In the afternoon aimless driving around brought us to Lathkill Valley Nature reserve. Lyn had no chance of joining me as there was an extremely steep road down to the beck, so I had to go alone.

It was pleasant in spite of the weather, and reminded me of Dowles Brook in Worcestershire.

A fairly common plant, which looks like it should be rare, grew in profusion at the valley bottom.

Needless to say I had to look it up when I got home. Walking along the stream bank a passing jogger told me a Dipper was showing well "by the bridge". I got to said bridge just as a gaggle of noisy Duke of Edinburgh Award earning students did so, and also just as my camera's battery was about to give up. The upshot was just one shot of the Dipper before it was disturbed.

Two things to note. It is carrying food, so feeding young, and it is BTO ringed. Both of these things I only noticed when reviewing the shot at increased magnification in the back of the camera.

I'm back home now, and hoping to resume patch birding shortly.

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