Gone Birding

Tales of a Derbyshire Birder......part 2


Birding trips etc....

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Insects etc

Posted on August 5, 2013 at 8:05 AM Comments comments (0)

The weekend saw many butterflies and Bumblebees (including Tree Bee Bombus hypnorum, a new one!) in the garden, the lavender bush had 10+ Small Whites on it at once, also present were Large White (1), Peacock, Comma, Red Admiral, Gatekeeper and Speckled Wood. Dusk again brought many Silver Y moths everywhere!


They always look a bit uneal they are so gorgeous!

Small White.

Tree Bee. Bombus hypnorum

B.hypnorum is new to the garden AFAIK... although I have recollections of them from last year but no notes!!

Plus to keep a birdy note... the Blackbirds are on brood 3.

few interesting Moths

Posted on August 2, 2013 at 12:35 AM Comments comments (0)

Ran a trap on the night of the 30th/31st July... less moths that last time but a few intersting ones. One thing I noted was a lot of Silver Y's in the garden at dusk. Sure enough some were in the trap...

Silver Y

Early Thorn.


Scalloped Oak.

Small Rivulet.

Common Wainscot.

Caspian Tern Rudyard Lake 28th July

Posted on July 28, 2013 at 6:05 PM Comments comments (0)

We had not seen a Caspian Tern for ages and as this one is less than an hour away we decided to go... fine and sunny at home but when we reached Rudyard it was torrential rain... indeed we went away and visited Sainsbury's in Leek before going back when the weather calmed down. There was quite a bit of flooding on the roads just to make life interesting. Anyway the Tern was sitting in the middle of the mud with Black-headed Gulls but was distant. Indeed when it went to sleep all you could see was the rear of its black nape and it looked like a huge BHG asleep!

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On thing of note was what I took to be large round pebbles stuck in the mud on the shore of the reservoir, were in fact thousands of shellfish shells... I assume they are Freshwater Mussels but I might be wrong....

Farnes again 22nd July 2013

Posted on July 24, 2013 at 7:15 AM Comments comments (0)

Paul finally got time off to go for the Bridled Tern, this time though we had to go on the usual tourist trip around the islands, but happily Serenity Boat Tours allowed us longer on the island than they usually do, its normally an hour, but we got 1.30pm to 4.30pm. Thank heavens we did too, the bird did not appear till 3.40ish!

The morning was galling though, a "Fea's Petrel" went past Newbiggin earlier at close range and as we arrived at Seahouses to be greeted by thick fog it went past Beadal and the Farnes... even sitting on the sea. If the fog had not lifted as fast as it did we would have had a chance with it, even more irritating now as its thought maybe to have been Zino's GRRRRRR

Anyhow the birds were brilliant on the Farnes, we got good views of everything too!

Once again the bird was displaying to everything!!

18th July 2013 Rutland Water

Posted on July 19, 2013 at 4:00 AM Comments comments (0)

We had a survey to do this pm on a development site not that far from Rutland Water so we decided to pop in and see the Pacific Golden Plover as we had not seen one for years.

It was initially very distant and the beautiful weather was making extreme heat haze an issue, but after a while it flew closer onto the bund and a change of hide to the Mallard Hide from the Heron produced excellent if still distant views.

The haze made photo's very difficult and this one was a case for the digiscopeing kit, which of course I had not brought with me... still got a few record shots of this beautiful bird. When it got closer you could see the ID features including the all important tail, tertial, primary projection ratios.

This last pic' shows just how small these waders really are...

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Also on the lagoon were 9 Little Egrets, I remember when one was a major rarity in the Midlands! Plus the ubiquitous Egyptian Geese, these were mostly lounging around on the bund. Up to 4 Ospreys were also visable, presumably 2 adults and 2 young?

Little Egrets.

Egyptian Geese.

Common Tern on one of the Osprey platforms.

Beeley Moor 14th July.

Posted on July 15, 2013 at 5:15 PM Comments comments (0)

A trip up the moor in the late afternoon produced some good moths. We counted 30 Beautiful Yellow Underwings on umbellifer flowers long the track opposite Flash Lane (cannot remember what we call it!). Plus a couple of Small Argent and Sables were flying and a few Middle barred Minors.

The Beautiful Yellow Underwings showed well but the strong breeze made photography very hard!

Out of the 30 seen we saw 2 or 3 of the "grey" sort.

Getting the yellow underwings was difficult. The moths were so warm they constantly quivered their wings making sharp pic's even harder!

Small Argent and Sable (female).

This huge hairy fly was interesting... I have no idea where to start in the ID though!!!

moth trap. Opened morning 11th July.

Posted on July 13, 2013 at 12:00 AM Comments comments (0)

77+ macro moths plus assorted micros.

Riband Wave 6

Dark Arches 9

Heart and Dart 13

Uncertain/Rustic 4

Willow Beauty 5

Flame Shoulder 4

Flame 5

Fan foot 4

Common Pug 4

Marbled Beauty 4

Garden Carpet 5

Peppered Moth 4

Small Angle Shades 1

Foxglove Pug 1

Green Pug 3

Sycamore 1

Smoky Wainscot 1

Middle barred Minor 2

Peppered Moths.

Flame Shoulder.


Small Angle Shades.


Carsington 12th July.

Posted on July 12, 2013 at 11:30 PM Comments comments (0)

A quick visit produced the usual birds (including the minima Canada Goose) plus this cracking Black tailed Godwit of the islandica race on Horseshoe Island.

7th July. Somerset.

Posted on July 7, 2013 at 11:35 PM Comments comments (0)

We had been promising ourselves a trip to see the Large Blues at Collard Hill in Somerset for a few years, today we finally made it! We picked the hottest day of the year so far and it was hell.... even the Large Blues went and hid! We did manage a flight view of a male but we struggled for that even. Still the place is stunning and we saw loads of butterflies which was nice.

Collard Hill.

The list was....

Large Blue

Marbled White (loads)

Meadow Brown

Speckled Wood

Common Blue

Small Heath

Large White

There were also good numbers of Orchids on site, loads of Pyramidals were in flower and we saw the Bee Orchids and "Wasp" Orchids although the latter were sadly going over a bit.

Pyramidal Orchid.

Bee Orchid.

Wasp Orchid.

Marbled White.

Speckled Wood.

Small Tortoiseshell.

We then headed for Ham Wall RSPB where Little Bitterns are breeding again for the 3rd year at least. Unfortunately dispite standing for 4 hours only I got a brief flying view of the male... this Great White Egret showed better and we had 3 sightings of Bittern flying around and showing well!

Great White Egret at a Mile!

Another Lifer falls...3rd July Farne Islands

Posted on July 3, 2013 at 3:10 PM Comments comments (0)

Well after the Pacific Swift I thought this year was done for new birds, two for me in one year is a rare thing these days. So when the mega alert went off on Monday I figured it would either be something I had already seen or on a far off island. Well when I read it and it said Bridled Tern on the Farne Islands I was shocked, surely not another lifer? Bridled Tern is one of the very few birds most had already seen, I managed to not see the fairly local bird in 1984 at Rutland and the widley twitched long stayer at Cemlyn Bay in 1988 (I believe there was a twitchable bird in 1991 but you had to be very fast off the mark).  So its been a long wait with various fly bys and one rightly suppressed bird in a tern colony since then.

Even then I was reluctant to go, its a long drive to the Farnes and I hate boats! Plus it wouldn't stay would it, or we would not see it anyway as it was in the tern colony? Anyway I wasn't too fussed, till the bird roosted by the jetty. Bugger!

Anyway as the bird showed on and off throughout Tuesday and the NT wardens were allowing access out of hours to the roosting area near the jetty, so we eventually decicded the trip was worth it, just for the fun if nothing else. I rang Andrew Douglas who runs Serenity boat tours to the island but his phone was dead so on a chance I left him a message via text, amazingly that evening he rang me back (great service!) and we got two seats on a boat at 9am, there was one at 6.30am but we couldn't get up there for that one, we would not have had any sleep and I'm getting too old for that.

So at 4.30am after about 1.5hours sleep (why does that always happen, when you need sleep, you cannot get to sleep?), we set off noth up the A1. Despite the weather saying fine and sunny we drove through heavy rain... but eventually we pulled into Seahouses an hour earlier than expected! We had had a pager message whilst on the road indicating the first boats had seen the bird by the jetty so anticipation rose a bit.

Still that extra hour in Seahouses gave us time to get a bacon roll and a cup of beverage and enjoy the scenery as the weather brightened up.

The Islands from the quay.

Bamburgh Castle.

This had us going for a moment....

Its been a long time since I went over to the Farnes (we still used 35mm film in those days so you can tell how long it is!), so it was nice to get reaquainted with the area.

We could see the first boats coming back to harbour from the islands and when they landed the birders aboard were happy campers, but they had bad news, the bird had flown....

Now it did that yesterday but returned so we were not that worried.....

So at just past 9am we set sail aboard the Serenity II. The sea was lovely and calm and the weather was still improving from overcast to sunny spells. We of course enjoyed good views of loads of auks etc as we sailed across all sitting on the water, and in the distance a large flock of Common Scoter moved north.


As we drew near the sound and smell of the bird colonys was awsome and we sailed under the small cliffs below the lighthouse where rank upon rank of Guilliemots, Razorbills and Kittiwakes were all sitting on their nest sites.

We arrived at the landing jetty and were disembarked to greet the awaiting NT staff, they have been brilliant in allowing landing and supervising everyone. They told us the bird had not returned but as it had done the same yesterday and had returned when the tide changed there wasn't too much to worry over. However we had to leave at 12 o'clock so they could prepare for the afternoons guests and have lunch. No worries the tide conditions were that the bird... if it followed the previous days routine should be back 10-10.30am anyway....

Our most excellent vessel.

I had forgotten just how brilliant the Farnes are, superb views of terns, Puffins etc. The terns were roosting on the rocks feet away and hundreds were constantly wheeling over head and coming and going to the main colonys, this all of course brings the attendent danger of falling whitestuff, but why is it always me they hit? Glad I put on my waterproof!

Arctic Terns.

I didn't want to use my camera battery too much as I wanted to keep it for the bird should it reappear but couldn't resist taking some pic's.

Oddly the only pic I got of Common Tern.


Sandwich Tern.

Time ticked on.... and no sign of the target, still plenty to look at, including a Manx Shearwater flying past. I must admit to being just a little worried though as the minutes passed but I was still not too bad and anyway the birds around us were so good. Then this chap arrived...

Directly below us on the jetty he/she dived and snuffed and generally amused, then it went ashore not far from us on the beach. For me it was the star of the show, as it chased the terns around a bit before settling down on the sand where it provided endless amusement to me as he writhed around and waved it's tail and scratched his nose!

Good set of teeth!

A few Eiders arrived and wandered up the beach, the females plumage is beautifully intricate.

Female Eider.

Scruffy imm Drake Eider.

Yet another Arctic Tern!  I couldn't resist them...

Anyway dispite these attractions you could feel the tension rising amongst the 40 or so birders gathered on the quay. The atmosphere was serious and quiet. Time ticked on and a few checks of watches were being seen. By 11 o'clock I will admit that with an hour left I was begining to feel a few niggling doubts, (Alan kept saying to stop giving off the negative vibes!), and I must admit I think we all began to make plans as to whether we would all return on the next boat back out... or perhaps wait till 6.30pm to try for the roost. We had almost decided to return for the afternoon (we could walk round the island too then). Then as I was idley watching some Puffins at 11.20am I heard a commotion behind me....People were turning and looking, "its there!" went the cry, but just where, was my worry, but after a frantic few seconds I got on the bird as it passed over the beach in front of me and rose over the green vegetation and out of view... cue a round of applause from the crowd and a mixture of relief and a irritation, as I had seen enough to ID it but not enough to appreciate it. Worse still some of the birders hadn't seen it at all. Still it would come back to roost wouldn't it? It was interesting to hear the relief in the gathered crowd, the tension was gone for most and the conversation level had risen. Minutes ticked by and the bird did not return. Then the warden got a phone call, the bird was circling the lighthouse, but we couldn't go there as it was out of bounds understandably.  Nearly 20 minutes later as the time reached 11.44am the Tern finally made everyone happy when it returned to the rocks by the jetty and everyone was able to appreciate the bird as it flew round and perched up. A robust and angular tern some where between Common and Sandwich in size very reminisent of the Sooty Tern on Anglesea but actually to me more attractive with the shading of the brown upper parts and longer tail etc. It looked more Common like in jizz though than Sooty being a bit slighter in build. It was interesting on one occasion to see the bird mobbed by an Arctic as it flew, as the bird reminded me a bit of a skua, (Long tailed Skus perhaps most).

To cap it all when Andrew bought the boat in to pick us up he was able to manouver the boat close in to the roost and we were treated to amazing views, pity the boat was pitching too much to get good pictures at that time!

Anyhow here are some pictures of the star Tern!

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30th June 2013

Posted on July 1, 2013 at 9:15 AM Comments comments (0)

First thing today was to empty the mothtrap... this didn't take long as there were only 8 moths. Too cold and windy I think.

Most were Heart and Darts, but one Common Pug, one Buff Ermine and a single Large Yellow Underwing. Plus a micro in the shape of a Small Magpie Moth.

Heart and Dart.

Buff Ermine.

Large Yellow Underwing.

Later on we headed out for a stroll and ended up walking down the top of Lathkill Dale, and we were treated to the spectacle of hundreds of "Derbyshires county flower", the Jacob's Ladder. A fantastic blue flower that is actually only found in a few 10k squares in the UK.

Jacob's Ladder.

I had forgotten just how beautiful the dale is actually and how rich it was in plant and bird life.

Biting Stonecrop.

Wild Thyme.

Dove's Foot Cranesbill.

There were plenty of young birds about, including a few Redstarts feeding young and good numbers of tits etc.


I still haven't managed a good shot of a Chimney Sweeper moth, this is the best I managed last night!

29th June Carsington

Posted on June 29, 2013 at 11:00 PM Comments comments (2)

Another evening stroll up the reservoir, and yet again we saw interesting things. We counted 70ish Common Spotted Orchid spikes behind the WLCentre, plus 10 more at Lane Ends. The Gold Swift moths were showing at dusk again, and we got Lesser Canada Goose for the year....

Garden 28th June

Posted on June 28, 2013 at 11:05 PM Comments comments (0)

Pair of Bullfinch in garden for 2nd time this week.

The male looks a bit worn...

26th June 2013 Tiln.

Posted on June 27, 2013 at 9:05 AM Comments comments (0)

A second trip over to Tiln, to see the Melody. This time it was much more obliging, and showed well Just as we got to the site we heard it singing and soon enjoyed views of the bird as it perched up on a small pine tree. He kept returning to this spot throughout the hour or so we were there too.

A nice twitch, small number of people all very nice and well behaved!

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On the way out Al spotted this chap on the track, I must find out what species of spider it is... It is probably Tibellus oblongus but there is another confusion species Tibellus maritimus but that requires a microscope to split them... so we will stick with the first one!

We then moved on to Idle Valley NR where we had a short walk and were able to find some beautiful Bee Orchids. I had forgotten what cracking flowers they are!

Also on site were the odd Marsh Orchid, and a few interesting insects.

22nd June. Tiln Woods, Nottinghamshire

Posted on June 22, 2013 at 11:45 PM Comments comments (0)

An afternoon trip over to foreign parts in North Nottinghamshire produced an irrittating time as the Melodious Warbler proved extremely elusive, although it was singing all the time!  I saw it perched twice and several times in flight over a five hour period. At times it sang within feet of me on the other side of the fence in the plantation but it was mostly low down behind vegetation perching in the low branches of the small pines.

Interesting to hear it sing as it certaily did one phrase very similar to an Icterine, but it perhaps didn't sound as "high pitched or shrill". It was a bit reminiscent of a Marsh Warbler at times too, as it threw in a few mimicked phrases, including Blackbird alarm call... unlike the Carsi Marsh Warbler though it didn't have the fading away into the distance effect as good!

On the perched views it could be seen to have a marked pale wing panel like an Icterine would be perhaps more expected to show (bit subjective and variable this one though) but clearly had short primaries.

The warm weather between the showers also produced this Black-tailed Skimmer. Nicely co-ordinated with the gorse flowers.

21st June 2013 Carsington etc

Posted on June 21, 2013 at 5:45 PM Comments comments (0)

An evening out tonight produced a few good things!!

First up the local Peregrines, the female sat preeing on the building, we could see two tails sticking out of the nest but that was it tonight!

Then up to Carsington, where we saw a several Redstarts inc one fine male and a female feeding young. There was a Buzzard round the wildlife center and it was being mobbed by a crow constantly.

A nice suprise was the Ruddy Shelduck in the field behind the WLC with some Barnies

There was a nice selection of other stuff around, a few Common Spotted Orchids are out,

In one of the bends a good number of Gold Swifts were flying and showing well, including this mating pair. Interestingly there is no Bracken here which is supposed to be the food plant!

This snails shell caught our attention, it looked like polished wood.

Finally I was watching this Chiffy against the evenings dusky light and loved the way you could tell what it was even in silhouette!

16th June

Posted on June 18, 2013 at 6:40 PM Comments comments (0)

A bit of a quieter day today saw us head to the north of the county and collect a few more year birds. We added Pied Flycatcher at Padley Gorge and Ring Ouzel up north The latter birds showed amazingly well! Oh I wish I had had my camera! Little Owl was a long overdue addition too, one was out on some wires north of Bakewell late on in the evening sunshine.

15th June "20 years of hurt!"

Posted on June 18, 2013 at 5:50 PM Comments comments (0)

June always promises the lure of a great bird... the last two years have seen us end up in the north east for a mega, 2011 was White-throated Robin, 20012 the Western Orphean Warbler, both in Hartlepool! But this year the early days of June faded without a trip.... till today! After a tireing week we had a lie in, only to be disturbed by the pager going mental, a mega alert. Reading the message it was a bird that has given me pain for 20 years, a Pacific Swift. I had unfinished business with this species. Now we have to travel back in time 20 years for this story, to the days when I didn't have a car and was staying with friends in East Anglia. We had gone out for the day to Minsmere and had been having an annoying day failing to see a group of Spoonbill on the reserve (that's a whole other tale). We had previously walked Blakeney Point the day before to see the Desert Warbler building his nest and had been to an awesome Big Country concert afterwards that night (still one of the best live performances I've ever seen). Anyway back to Minsmere... we had noted a large Swift passage and had searched quite a few for an Alpine or the like to no avail. Heading to the village for a late lunch we called at a phonebox (yes it was that long ago). I head the fateful message Pacific Swift still at Cley after 2+hours..... We rushed off! As we arrived on the coast road at Cley we could see the throng watching the bird, only to be unable to find a parking space. Finally dumping the car we ran to be greated with "its just flown off".... yes we had missed it by a couple of minutes! 

The years have come and gone and there have been a few records since, including several fly throughs at Spurn in the last 5 years but no stayers... Swifts don't stay do they? In fact that was the initial thought today... but when the message came through it was still there after an hour we finally cracked and headed off. I had a great doubt it was worth it and we were going to be wasting our time and money, but a close friends words, used many times when we have twitched, echoed round in the back of my head and nagged at me..."if you don't go, you don't see". It's about 3.5hrs down to Trimley St Marys in Suffolk near Ipswich and Felixstowe and the Trimley Marshes SWT reserve. This was probably the worst trip I've made for years, we could see the weather changing to showery conditions to our south west and we were not out running it... the messages were promising but we knew the bird had already tried to cross the river... News came through the police had closed the road and the already long walk was worse, but joy, on arriving we found no police and we decided to try the car park first, amazingly there was a space! Paul had forgotton his bins in the rush and therefore we carried a 'scope between us and my bins! The walk was supposed to be 3 miles past the container port and out onto the river bank, and we now felt the rain start. People were walking back looking dishevelled and complaining about the walk. Actually we didn't find it too bad! The problem was the bird wasn't being reported! And the rain was worse. About 50 minutes later we arrived in gloomy overcast and damp conditions on the path along the river and we could see a crowd of around 80 souls stood up on the banking. There was no real urgency about them.... I had that awful feeling the bird had done it to me again! Suddenly there seemed to be movement in the crowd just as we joined them after scrambling up the bank.  After a couple of minutes scanning the hundreds of Swifts over the marsh we heard someone say something right at the far end of the line, but no-one was relaying the instructions, I scanned through the scope, there it was suddenly flying into my scope view! Paul had my bins and was also quick to pick it up. We then alternated between using the bins and the 'scope! After the initial panic it eventually showed well coming close over the hides and allowing study of the details. It was a very skinny Swift, with long rakish sythe like wings, narrow across the whole length and with very little angle at the carple joint compared to Common Swift and with a long very deeply forked tail, forming a very thin attenuated rear end when the tail forks were closed. The white rump was very obvious and narrow set high on the rump and wrapping around a little a bit like a Wilson's Petrel's does. The bird looked paler that the swifts with a greyish look to the head and underbody, the wings too looker greyer contrasting a bit with the slightly darker mantle etc forming a slight saddle effect. The throat showed a largish white patch, diffuse at the lower edge. The underparts at close range showed greyish scaling. It flew fast and agile.

Sadly I had no camera with me so its fieldnotes only!

After we had been watching it for a while we became aware of thunder rolling behind us and the sky began to look black and the weather began to take on an apocalyptic feel adding to the experience! I was watching the swift and loathe to leave the bank but on turning round we saw the whole view vanish as the storm swept towards us, we made a dash for the hide but it was too late, I have never been so wet as the rain sheeted down and hail thundered around us. Claps of thunder rolled and we cowered the hide, forming expansive puddles on the floor! We watched the apocalyptic weather ease and we made a dash for the car... ony to find half way to the car the sun came out and it turned beautiful...

An amazing day! And finally I finished my business with a Pacific Swift with glorious views, what a bird.

10th June Carsington

Posted on June 10, 2013 at 6:15 PM Comments comments (0)

Well after a tiring day yesterday I wasn't well this am and therefore missed my messages to tell me Clive had found a Marsh Warbler on the entrance to Stones Island...new bird for the reservoir!! I got up there at around oneish and eventually saw the bird well...how I miss my camera, I'm using the old Nikon again ATM and its not good!  Mid pm I picked up an Osprey coming down the res mobbed by BHGulls and every one got on it as it circled then dropped down to catch a fish (sadly out of view!). It reappeared carrying a fish the length of its own body and went off to eat it on one of the perches outside Land Ends.

A late evening visit saw the Marsh Warbler show again and it sang well up until dusk. 5 Curlew roosted on the causeway.

Garden 4th June

Posted on June 5, 2013 at 9:30 AM Comments comments (0)

A few good things in the garden over the last two days... yesterday (the 3rd) saw the first Brimstone of the year to visit and Speckled Woods were flying (first record 31st May) and today saw the first Holly Blue, along with Small White.

Last night (3rd) saw us catch a fabulous The Herald moth on the front window.

The Herald.

The 3rd saw the very pale Buzzard with a reddish tail being given hell by a Crow over the garden for over 5 minutes in the pm, the Crow was really hitting the Buzzard hard!

Mammal news is that an adult Hedgehog has been around for the last few nights and 2 Common Pips have shown up as usual feeding over the garden... wish I knew where they come from they aren't in our roof or garden but I'm sure they are not coming far.....

Sun worshipping Blackbird!


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