Two very different places visited today!
I started the day with a trip to Padley Gorge and the Longshaw Estate in Derbyshire. It’s a crime I’ve never been here before, as it’s very easy to get to by train, being practically adjascent to Grindleford Station.
I was way too late in the year for Padley Gorge’s star species. If I’d have gone in May I’d have been surrounded by pied flycatchers, redstarts, wood warblers and tree pipits. However, at this time of year the wood is pretty much silent, and even when you do hear birds it’s near impossible to see them in the fully-leaved trees. At one point a mixed tit flock, with at least great tit, long-tailed tit, nuthatch and goldcrest could be heard mere metres away, but I couldn’t even get a glimpse of the birds in question!
I won’t be making the same mistake next year, and will visit a lot earlier. I did manage to see a dipper and grey heron on the stream, but that’s about as much as I got.
On to the Longshaw Estate, and I got a good mix of birds, including a singing skylark, a few jays, a green woodpecker yaffling in the distance, several chiffchaffs (including a juvenile cavorting near my head), hirundines and swifts and the common finches. There was also a vole (not sure of species) seen on the grass which sadly scarpered before I got chance to take a picture.
At the Longshaw visitors’ centre, there were plenty of birds on the feeders including goldfinches, greenfinches, chaffinches (including some juveniles), blue and great tits, a nuthatch, and best of all these siskins. I tend to think of siskins as winter birds, and it’s great to see them in the summer. I believe the second photo shows a juvenile siskin (the bottom photo also shows a juvenile chaffinch).
When I got back to Sheffield, I decided I didn’t really fancy going straight home and instead took a tram out to Meadowhall, and then a walk up Tinsley Canal and on to Blackburn Meadows.
There wasn’t too much to see except for some singing reed buntings, a couple of little grebes, several bullfinches and a grey heron, but it really is a haven on the Sheffield/Rotherham border. The only issue I have is with the hides there. The first one today was dark, cold, cobwebby and with no seats and not very inviting at all, and the second – well the shrieking teenage voices coming from within didn’t make me feel much like venturing inside. The viewing screen as you enter the reserve is superb, and you wonder if it would better to get rid of the hides all together and replace them with more of these.
Adding to the annoyance was some kid on an off-road motorbike entering the reserve and proceeded to razz round it just as I was leaving. Idiot.
But, walking back to Meadowhall I got the best birds of the day. First not one but two kingfishers – the first flew down the canal, and the second I heard calling from the river and got there in time to see it take off from a branch and out of sight.
And secondly, I saw a bird of prey overhead near the Meadowhall South tram stop, which I first took to be a sparrowhawk. Then I realised the flight and shape was wrong and I was actually seeing a peregrine! And suddenly it was joined by a second bird, a rather raggedy individual I imagine was a molting adult. It’s always great to see urban peregrines, and even better to see two at once!