More woodpecker action

A quick update… yesterday evening I got another, very good view of the great spotted woodpecker which is feeding on our fat cake. It’s a female (no red patch on the neck), and it cramming her beak with so much fat that I feel sure she must be carrying it off for some young somewhere.

We also had a small flock of long-tailed tits in the garden around the same time.

Little Owl

Yesterday evening we had a walk to the pub, and on the way, at about 7pm, had a great view of a little owl in broad daylight. It flew across a field on Rowell Lane, near Loxley Road, and perched on the ledge of a barn eyeing us, before flying off again.

Also, the woodpeckers are starting to use our birdfeeders, as this morning we spotted one greedily pecking at our fat cake.

Woodpeckers and others

The other afternoon I went for a walk after work, and discovered a new footpath on the network of paths that lead from near my house and over the Loxley Valley. Scanning the water for dippers or kingfishers (I’ll get one of them there one day!), I turned I saw what looked unmistakably like a tiny version of a great spotted woodpecker flying across the path. A brief glimpse, but I can now add lesser spotted to both my patch and life lists, and I’ve seen all three woodpeckers in the Loxley Valley since I moved in.

Speaking of woodpeckers, we got a great spotted in the garden yesterday afternoon, which flew into a tree while we were out gardening (for anyone who knows me – yes I was gardening! Well, does spraying a bit of weedkiller and watering things count?). It made a few alarm calls and flew off.

On Saturday I did the BTO bird survey at my 1km square in Stocksbridge. Due to moving, and being rained off on days I planned to do it, it was well on the late side, but saw plenty. There were loads of swallows flying around me while I walked up the road, singing skylarks displaying in the fields, even more great spotted woodpeckers, and lapwings fluttering around making their silly electronic noises. A quick walk round Underbank afterwards was pleasant if slightly dead birdwise, although I did see my first common sandpiper of the year.

Some quick garden spots

In my last house I leapt with glee if as much as a blue tit flew within a mile of the garden. Last night made me realised how good it is to have moved.

Firstly a great spotted woodpecker was busily feeding at next door’s birdfeeders. Hopefully it will start to notice all the tasty peanut feeders I’ve scattered liberally around beyond the height of our cat (hopefully) when she’s able to leave the house.

A mere few minutes later, a jay flew into one of the trees opposite the front window, and stayed there for about half an hour. It was the best view I’ve ever had of a gorgeous bird that you usually only get the briefest flashes of.

Additionally to this, a few days ago I was walking home from the tram stop, and a heron was stood, bold as brass with neck fully extended, on top of a house about five doors down from my own.

Not the rarest of birds by any stretch, but bloody good ones! I’ll bore you senseless with any more garden visitors we get.

Dusk

Last night me and Laura went for a short walk from the house just after 9pm. It was really to look for bats, which we saw quite a few of flitting around (I think they were pipistrelles but my bat ID skills leave a lot to be desired).

On the way back we heard a commotion in the trees right by us, and some harsh “ke-wicks!” gave the perpetrators were two tawny owls. We stood and watched the trees for a while, and got a really good view of one flying between two trees, and scaring the bejesus out of the blackbirds and woodpigeons around it. Excellent stuff.

My new patch!

Well I’ve finally moved. My updating will be a bit sparce this month until we sort the Internet out, but I’ll try and get a few posts done in my lunch hour at work like this one.

The house is great, and living in the Loxley Valley is every bit as good as I thought. I’ve gone from having a garden virtually devoid of birdlife, to one that’s bustling with great, blue and long-tailed tits, chiffchaffs, magpies and jackdaws, and various other visitors. From the front window I’ve spotted herons, mallards and a sparrowhawk in flight, and at night the swifts that reel overhead are replaced by pipistrelles, that flit across the living room window and distract me from what’s on TV.

Almost opposite the house is a footpath that leads to the Loxley Valley’s Easy Going Trail. I’ve done a couple of walks down here since I moved in, including one where I kept going and went all round Damflask, and I’ve already seen over 50 species of bird. Highlights include green and great spotted woodpeckers; willow warblers, garden warblers, chiffchaffs and blackcaps; teal and cormorants on Damflask; a curlew, a tree sparrow, a reed bunting, and a bullfinch. In a two hour walk, you’re by rivers, ponds, reservoirs, farmland, deciduous woods, coniferous woods, and right on the edge of the Peak District.

It’s a shame that the abandoned factories along the Loxley Valley have been bought up by property developers. I’m not totally against housing on brownbelt land, and don’t want to be a NIMBY about these things, but I really do hope that if they’re given the go ahead to build, the properties compliment rather than detract from the wildlife of the valley. Time will tell, I suppose.

I will, of course, be writing loads about this new patch that I’ve suddenly got! I’ve also got to do my BTO bird survey this weekend (sadly on the late side now due to the moving house shenanigans), so will probably have stuff to write about there too.