Wednesday, 8 April 2015

Peak District Tour: Feat. The Midhope Shrike, the 2nd largest reser in England and an Osprey over the pub

Today was the return journey to Sheffield after 2 and half very enjoyable weeks at home. Fortunately these days usually involve a day out in the peaks and since the weather was lovely this was sure to be a nice day out with the family. We were heading to Ladybower reservoir, and I had hopes of catching an Osprey flying over.
However, when I learned the route my dad intended to take to Ladybower I could see that we were going to pass straight by the Midhope Great Grey Shrike, which had conveniently been re-found yesterday. I hoped that it would be on show and clear so that I could persuade my dad to stop the car and I would be able to get a proper view of it.
On the way over though I got an even bigger surprise when my dad picked out a Swallow hunting along the road, which is my first of the year. So already the day was off to a good start, and it got even better as I easily picked up the shrike as we drove past. No sooner had we stopped than the bird dropped, so we had to wait for it to re-appear. Another Swallow flew past at this point and I managed to get a few photos of it, my first swallow photos of the year.
The shrike had initially shown very well on top of the tree, before it dropped. It must have been around 10 mins before it came back up again, and even then the view was badly obscured by the bush. After a while though it returned to the top of the bush where I was able to get some far improved shots on those that I had taken previously when I came to see the bird. I also tried to digiscope it but it took off and flew straight at us before I managed to get back on the DSLR. It flew straight past us and my dad decided that gave us a cue to move on, even though the shrike was now clearly much closer to the road than it had been before, even though we could not see it.
-Great Grey Shrike
We arrived at Ladybower and I expected to pick up siskin on the feeders immediatley, but there were no birds on the feeders at all. I could not believe it, but that's that I guess. I was constantly scanning the skies but could see no raptors at all in the air.
There were good numbers of passerines calling from the woods, and after a quick check of the Collins App I could tell this was where the Siskins had got to. There were loads of them flying around and calling but I could not find any sat down or perched for a photo of this year-tick.
We continued walking along the side of Derwent Reservoir when I heard another call I was not familiar with. I had a quick check in the tree for the source, and found a stunning male Brambling calling. I was shocked to say the least, as this was not a species I anticipated finding in any way. It sat for a while for photos before flying off. Not going to lie, this was a massive shock in a birding sense. 
In that knowledge we continued our walk round until we reached a point where my mum had to stop. My family sat down for a bit while I found myself a place at the edge of the reser where I could scan for ospreys. No joy on that front though I did pick out a large hawk on the horizon. Sadly it was too far away and high up for me to find it in the scope before I lost it. A shame, as from what I could see in the bins it looked good for a gos, which would have been a lifer.
Gutted about that, there was some consolation in that a Siskin flock flew into the trees directly above my head and started to drop seeds on me. Its not the ideal angle for a record photo but its certainly a different perspective on the birds.
Sadly that was it for Derwent reservoir. I found no Ospreys, and the only other birds of note were a couple of Grey Wagtails flitting around the dam wall. Still, it was a great turnout from the birds and better than I had expected that's for sure.
It was not getting on in the afternoon so we headed on to Castleton to find a pub for dinner. We found a reasonably nice one with a nice beer garden with views of Mam Tor and the rest of the valley. It was from this location that I finally saw it.
Despite that time and luck were no on my side I had kept scanning for Osprey all day, even now at the pud, DESPITE HAVING NOT BROUGHT MY BINS WITH ME!! I spotted a large bird flying down the valley and began to take interest in it. When it was still a long was off my first though was  a large gull, but it then came close and I could see the wings were far too broad, and the flight pattern wrong. My next port of call was grey heron, but the feet did not protrude and there was no neck bulge. Now it was not close but close enough to be seen clearly (though only as a silhouette) and I was thrown by how massive the bird was. It then stopped its lazy flapping and started gliding and that was the final clincher for this bird being an Osprey. It could not have been buzzard as I could not clearly make out a tail and the wings were no rounded enough, that and the fact that the wings were too long. As I realised what I had just seen the bitter disappointment in myself for not bringing my bins or camera started to hit me. Alas, I paid a heavy price, but I found myself an Osprey and another yeartick. I can only wish I had been able to make for of it...
Fortunatley the pub had Wifi and I was able to put out the record. I could see from birdguides that an Osprey had been seen at 13.00 in Oldham and was heading SE. Granted, if it were the same bird it should have arrived around 14.00 not 16.00 but the direction and distance fitted, and there is no reason it should not have stopped off somewhere, so why I can see no reason why my Osprey shouldn't be the bird picked up in Oldham. 
So that was a fantastic end to the day. We drove to the top of Mam Tor and got fantastic views of the valleys below to finish off the day before taking me back to Sheffield. What a fantastic days birding to say the least!

Species List:
Midhope Moor Watchpoint: Great Grey Shrike, Swallow, Lapwing, Skylark, Jay, Blackbird, Meadow Pipit, Feral Pigeon, Woodpigeon,
Derwent Reservoir: Siskin, Brambling, Mandarin, Grey Wagtail, Curlew, Kestrel, Canada Goose, Graylag Goose, Mallard, Common Buzzard, Magpie, Carrion Crow, Jackdaw, Chaffinch, Woodpigeon, Feral Pigeon, Mistle Thrush, Blackbird, Pied Wagtail, Long-Tailed Tit, Robin, Dunnock, Coal Tit, Blue Tit, Great Tit, Meadow Pipit, Nuthatch, Skylark

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