I had a walk on patch yesterday, the hightlight undoubtedly being the sparrowhawk below, which was at Old Wheel Farm and had an unidentified kill hidden in the grass.
Elsewhere there were 6 herons together at Stacey Bank, 3 blackcaps singing along the route, a few swallows dotted around (but no house martins), several singing willow warblers, and a stock dove nest-building on Low Matlock Lane.
No swifts yet – any day now!
This morning I had a walk taking in High Bradfield, Agden Res, Agden Side, a quick detour to Cowell Flat, and then down Agden Rocher and down to Low Bradfield. I’m glad I did as I picked up three yearticks along the way, the first being four common sandpipers on Agden Res, and the others being a displaying tree pipit and a singing whitethroat, both at Agden Side.
Elsewhere the best of the rest were 5 golden plover over Cowell Flat; 4 x lapwing, also at Cowell Flat; a pair of great spotted woodpeckers, a bullfinch and 4 x greylag geese at Agden Res; at least 5 linnets at Agden Side and another two at Cowell Flat; a displaying skylark seen high overRocher Cliffs; at least 3 (sadly heard only) redstarts at Agden Rocher, and a yaffling green woodpecker.
Plus, of course, there were lots of the usual along the route, including too many willow warblers to count, several curlews and blackcaps, a few swallows at Low Bradfield, and a few broods of mallard ducklings at Agden Res and Low Bradfield.
The walk finished nicely with great views of a sparrowhawk flapping and gliding straight above me as I walked from the bus stop back to the house.
Finally, here’s a few pics of the absurdly tame robin at Agden Res…
…and another gratuitous cute lamb shot.
A bird patch tick is a rare thing, but a mammal patch tick is even rarer… I was walking down the road at Old Wheel Farm, and saw something dart in front of me, and suddenly realised there was a mustelid watching me a few feet away from inside a dry stone wall. Sadly only its face was visible, and none of the distinguishing features there for me to make a 100% ID between the two common Mustela species, but its small size is making me lean towards weasel. Either way, other than badger, it’s the first patch mustelid I’ve seen in all my time trekking across the Loxley Valley.
Elsewhere there were a total of 33 mallard ducklings (24 at the Fisheries and 9 at Old Wheel Dam), several willow warblers and chiffchaffs, a blackcap on Low Matlock Lane, 8+ swallow and 2+ house martin, a calling curlew, at at least six stock doves. A moorhen is now on a nest at Old Wheel Dam, and the coot is still nesting.
I had a bit of a walk round Longshaw and Padley Gorge earlier today – I was probably there a bit late in the day and didn’t see any of the woodland specialities there such as pied flycatcher and redstart, but there were plenty of nuthatches around, a fair few willow warblers, chiffchaffs and swallows, plus some rather tame, photogenic siskins and a pair of lesser redpoll at the feeding station. A nice walk in gorgeous weather.
This morning I had a bit of a blast from the past, with a visit to Glen Howe Park in Wharncliffe Side. I haven’t been there for years, and spent a lot of time there when I was a kid, and it was quite weird to be back as it hasn’t really changed at all. It really is a nice park – secluded and well maintained, and well worth a visit.
My target for the morning was pied flycatcher – a male had been reported here on the SBSG site on a couple of days recently. Although quite an easy bird to find at Padley Gorge this time of year, I thought it would be a great opportunity to get one in a local spot. It wasn’t long until I found a handsome male – the views were brief and not the best I’ve ever had, but still a nice new bird for the year, not too far from home at all.
Also around were a singing blackcap, several willow warblers and chiffchaff, a great spotted woodpecker and a treecreeper. Walking back to Wharncliffe Side there was a flock of siskins on School Lane, and a couple of swallows overhead.
Spring really is setting in properly now – the 11 (11!) bundles of fluff above, which were on Loxley Fisheries, were the first mallard ducklings I’ve seen this year. There’s also a coot sitting on a nest at Old Wheel Dam.
Also at Old Wheel Dam the house martins have arrived, with at least 10 swirling above (I forgot just how difficult it is to count hirundines, and this is a conservative estimate). As well as this were the now usual swallows, and much squinting at the passing birds turned up at least one martin without a white rump – another (or possibly the same) sand martin as the other evening. While picking through the swirling hirundines I was also surprised to see a pair of birds I associate more with winter round these parts, as a pair of siskins briefly alighted in the trees nearby.
Elsewhere 5 stock doves are still at Old Wheel Farm, plus a kestrel pouncing on something in one of the fields. 3 each of chiffchaff and willow warbler were heard. I walked the path south of the river in the hopes of an earlyish whitethroat, but no joy yet.
This evening I had a walk on patch, and got the increasingly rare thing that is a patch tick… I was watching the swallows at Old Wheel Dam, and noticed there was a martin among them. Presuming it was a house martin (a lot earlier than my first there last year), I had a look through binoculars and realised it was a brown bird with a band across its breast – a completely unexpected sand martin!
Elsewhere in the Valley were a few stock doves (five at Old Wheel Farm, and one in the nest box opposite Loxley Park nursing home), a singing blackcap opposite the house, a couple of willow warblers en route, and a pair of linnets at Old Wheel Farm, the first I’ve seen in the valley for a while. A curlew was heard at Old Wheel Dam, and great spotted woodpeckers were present at Stacey Bank and Black Lane.
Here’s the only photo I got today, a pied wagtail at Old Wheel Farm.