The weekend

On Saturday I made a massive purchase at In Focus in Denby Dale, and bought a new scope to replace my now quite knackered Mighty Midget. I am now the proud owner of an Opticron ES80 ED, with a 20-60 zoom eyepiece, and very nice it is too. I took it to Mirfield first of all to have a look for the ring-billed gull that’s doing the rounds at Sands Lane GP, but arrived to discover a) it hadn’t been seen for two hours, and b) I’d left the plate for my new tripod at the shop. D’oh! So after a few moments at Mirfield I was hot footing back to Denby Dale, and spent the rest of the morning at Pugneys.

First of all I had another look at the ring-necked duck which was handily for comparison’s sake in exactly the same place on the nature reserve lake, lurking by the reeds. This time however, instead of seeing a distant duck with greyish sides and a slightly-odd shaped head, I could clearly see  its distinguishing features of its grey flanks with the pure white patch at the front. If it hadn’t been asleep I would have got  good views of its bill pattern too. Then it was a dash across to Calder Wetlands for a nice red-necked grebe, a nice year tick for this time of year.

On Sunday I had a walk on patch, with very few highlights to note except a dipper on the Damflask “steps”, a great spotted woodpecker at the Fisheries, a mute swan and a drake tufted duck at Old Wheel Dam, another tuftie on Olive Dam, and a roving flock of around 40 siskins around Black Lane and Low Matlock Lane.

That evening I went to Buxton to allow my mind  to be bent by Derren Brown, who was playing the Opera House. Before the gig we had a walk around the Pavillion Gardens and I was surprised to see the bird below (sorry for crappy mobile phone shot)…


You can just about make out from this picture that’s it’s not a pochard, due to its pure white back and sides, all-black beak and “Roman” profile, but is in fact a canvasback, a North American species. I knew there was one there early in 2009, that caused a bit of debate that it could be a genuine wild bird and a mega rarity (despite  it bobbing around with the Canadas, Muscovies and yuck ducks of the Pavillion Gardens…), but this was soon put paid to by the fact it was observed to have one clipped wing. I had no idea it was still there – despite its iffy credentials, it’s still a very interesting bird to see, and a good one to get memorised on the off chance you spot a “real” one one day.

On the way home a tawny owl flew over the road at Rivelin, meaning I finally get my first sighting of one for the year, despite hearing them hooting and kee-yicking outside the window on most evenings!

Tomorrow I’m off on an adventure out west… I’ll tell you all about it!


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My name is Pete

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