Happy New Year To All

December 31, 2007 at 12:14 pm


Since last week the frosty Winter weather finally disappeared after the 23rd. On that day a Woodcock was flushed on Hopwood and six Snipe from the stream.

Christmas Day produced mild, misty conditions and a Green Woodpecker was feeding in the mist.

The Sparrowhawk was active in the garden again with a Starling producing a good impression on the window but this time it got away

Two Greater Spotted Woodpeckers were in a tree at the rear of the garden but would not come into the garden to be counted before the year end – perhaps next year?

Happy Christmas To All

December 23, 2007 at 5:20 pm


A fantastic week of Winter frosts, every night with a low of minus eight degrees on the twenty first.

At last Jack Snipe have turned up in their regular wintering places that they use in severe frosts with one at Tandle and the other at Hopwood for two consecutive days. These areas never freeze over and it takes keen Winter weather to concentrate their feeding from other suitable places in the surrounding countryside. This pattern has worked over forty years but I still have no photograph of a Jack Snipe and I must admit that the thought of sitting in a hide , in water for four hours in minus eight degrees temperatures is less appealing now than it was forty years ago!

There have been some other good birding days this week with a hundred plus Siskins, Brambling, ten Wigeon, four Shoveller and a fine male Pintail at Dovestones on a day when it was still minus five degrees in the car at mid-day.

On Hopwood eight Fieldfares, Teal, Heron , Dipper, Siskin, Stonechat and a Green Woodpecker have all been seen. In Lords Wood, Hopwood Nuthatch, two Greater Spotted Woodpeckers, Fieldfare , Redwing and Sparrowhawk were all present.

So the Fieldfare eating holly berries is an appropriate subject for Christmas week in the absence of a Jack Snipe picture!

Return of the Bullfinch

December 16, 2007 at 11:33 am


After last weeks rain we have at last had some good Winter weather with two sunny days and a low of minus five degrees centigrade one morning.

The Goosanders at Rhodes lodges increased to forty five then to sixty which is my record count and was particularly impressive as fifty were on one lodge! Ice cover the day after reduced this to twelve but just to make up for it two Kingfishers were present that day.

Both Woodcock and Green Woodpecker are present at Hopwood with a Kestrel hunting each day. A Buzzard was over Tandle Hill, rising in the sunshine but still mobbed by a Magpie.

I don’t normally go twitching birds but a Great Grey Shrike on Waddington Fell sent me up there on one sunny morning. No sign of the Shrike but a male Merlin and four Kestrels made up for it.

The garden has proved good as well with thirty five Goldfinches in the back trees one morning – more than double our previous highest count, eighteen Greenfinches is also a high and the re-appearance of a pair of Bullfinches has brightened up our garden birdwatching.

A Sad Story

December 9, 2007 at 3:25 pm

Male Sparrowhawk

If last weeks weather was bad this weeks weather has been even worse with only five hours of sunshine and 2.39 inches of rain!

There have been plenty of birds in the garden with a peak of thirty seven starlings and twenty eight House Sparrows and the inevitable happened a male Sparrowhawk pounced on a Starling. This always presents a moral dilemma – do you rush out to rescue the Starling that was still squawking or do you let the Sparrowhawk have its meal? I arrived at a compromise, I walked out of the house slowly to let fate take its course. I almost reached the Sparrowhawk , with the Starling still calling, when instead of releasing its prey it flew off carrying it to a quiet corner to devour. Nature had taken its course.

Another Wet Week

December 2, 2007 at 10:08 pm


Not a lot to report since last week with the weather being very wet except for one sunny day on the 29th November.

On Hopwood a Woodcock was flushed and ten Long Tail Tits seen plus two Reed Buntings. At Rhodes Lodges twenty Goosanders were present and looked good in the sunshine until flushed by a man and his dog, who insisted on having a swim – the dog that is!

It always seems good in the garden when it is wet weather and we had a peak count of thirty seven Starlings and twenty eight House Sparrows but still only four Blue Tits.

A Kestrel hovering over the busy main road in Castleton left us wondering what meal it was contemplating!