A scorcher

An actual, bona fide summer’s day today, and by a fluke I’d got today booked off work as a day’s leave. So I had a pleasant walk around Agden and Dale Dike reservoirs, and Agden Side.

Things have gone very quiet now – it doesn’t seem long at all since Agden Side was alive with singing tree pipits, wrens and willow warblers, but now it’s almost completely silent, save for the grasshoppers and the odd twitterings from goldfinches and meadow pipits.

Elsewhere there were very few birding highlights. A spotted flycatcher was at Agden – the patch of conifers near the entrance on Smallfield Lane is a very reliable spot for them – and a kingfisher was at Dale Dike (that’s four I’ve spotted in four days now!). Dale Dike’s also got a few mallard ducklings on it, showing the breeding season is still under way, at least for a few birds.

The best bit of birding of the whole day was at the section of path near Windy Bank where someone hangs birdfeeders. Here there were several jays, coal tits, blue tits, great tits, chaffinches, grey squirrels and a yellowy juvenile willow warbler (making me think wood warbler for a brief moment or two). A kestrel flew overhead, and a buzzard could be heard mewing somewhere above. The coal tits proved to be the most photogenic, including the adorable bundle of fluff below.

Coal Tit juvenile

Elsewhere, on the public bridleway between Agden and Dale Dike, a small party of four squabbling wrens were too busy sorting out their territories to take any notice of me, and proved to be uncharacteristically photogenic. [EDIT – it has been pointed out to me that these birds pictured were actually recently fledged juveniles, and so won’t have been doing anything territorial at all.]




And finally a pic of a speckled wood – I tried for ages to take a photo of a red admiral that was flitting about, but sadly it wouldn’t settle on anything for long enough, but this fella made up for it.

Speckled Wood


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My name is Pete

5 thoughts on “A scorcher”

  1. Hi Pete,

    Enjoying your jottings and the photos are a definite bonus…

    Wanted to pick your brains about binoculars as hopefully you know a thing or two about them. I’m wanting to buy myself a decent pair – I’ve a little pocket pair at the moment but would like to buy some better ones ( round about £200+ mark or so ) to use for general nature spotting / gazing out to sea when on holiday and the odd bit of astronomy etc ….

    I’ve been looking at variouws websites and find all the different magnifications baffling – Also the range of brands is very widespread so i’m finding it hard to choose a pair.

    Is there a make / magnification that you’d recommend ???

    Thanks for any help you can give…


  2. Hi Grant,

    The ideal birdwatching binculars are said to be either 8×42 or 10×42. The first number is the magnification, and the second the diameter of the lens (ie how much light is let in). Larger magnifications aren’t really suitable for birdwatchers, because the higher you go the less easy it is to hold the image steady. Also, especially on cheaper binoculars, higher magnifications tend to be less bright. Astronomy binoculars have much higher magnifications, but aren’t really suitable for nature-watching.

    The other thing to take into account is eye relief if you intend on using them while wearing glasses. Most have fold-down eyecups these days which means you can do this easily, but make sure you check before you buy (I didn’t when I bought my spotting scope and it’s really annoying having to take my specs on and off to use it, especially as my eyesight has deteriorated a bit since I bought it).

    As for brand for that price I’m not too sure – both my pairs are quite cheap ones. I’ve got a big pair of 10×42 Bushnell H20s that cost £100, which are fully waterproof and quite good overall but quite bulky and not very good in lower light levels. My other pair are Opticron Taiga 8×25 that were £60 which are a pocket pair and are superb for the price. I’ve not really explored full-sized bins at your pricerange, but Opticron seem to be a great brand that don’t break the bank.

    A good place to get advice on buying binoculars is Birdforum http://www.birdforum.net

    Hope that’s some help!


  3. Thanks for that Pete… points me in the right direction and I’ll definitely check out the link.

    PS – I’ll get Missy to join your new facebook group !


  4. Hi Pete

    Wanted some advice about spotting Kingfishers.
    I have been lucky enough to have seen a lot of Kingfishers
    in the past, however now I seem to be struggling.

    I noticed you have seen Kingfishers at Dale Dike, so I set off there today (aug22) and started at Agden, walked to the top of there from Bradfield and went across to Dale Dike.

    We ended up on our own having lunch on the wooden bridge across the bottom of DD. Which I felt was ideal KF spot. However nothing.

    Any clues and tips on seeing KF and maybe some other spots to see them. We live in Wingerworth, nr Chesterfield.

    I have also joined the FaceBook Group.

  5. Hi Russ,

    Sounds like a good walk – sorry you didn’t see a kingfisher.

    I’m not sure how reliable a spot Dale Dike would be to see kingfishers (the one I saw could have been a dispersing juvenile passing through). The problem with them is they can be surprisingly elusive when you’re actually looking for them. I didn’t see one on my own patch for well over a year!

    You can find them on most of Sheffield’s rivers, and a walk down the Rivelin or Loxley Valleys can bring them up, or a walk up the Canal from Meadowhall to Blackburn Meadows or up the Don on the Five Weirs Walk. In fact the last two are probably the most reliable, you can even see them very close to the City Centre near Lady’s Bridge.

    I also used to see them quite regularly by the River Don at Deepcar, which could also tie in with a good walk round Wharncliffe Heath.

    There’s also a few wetland sites nearer to you in East Sheffield that are probably good, but they’re not on my stomping ground so couldn’t give you any tip.

    This is a very good time for spotting them – if you have no luck then try Old Moor RSPB near Barnsley. They’re very active there at the moment and I got a great view of a perched one at the weekend.

    Let me know how you get on,

    Best wishes,


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