Wednesday, 6 June 2012

The Peak District, 28th May - 1st June 2012

A few days away in The Peak District on a non-birding break was a welcome change of scenery and luckily the weather was good except for one day (31st May). I had hoped to connect with ring ousel with a visit to Stannage Edge, a well known site for them, but unfortunately we never got there. I did get to visit another site where they are regularly reported from but we visited this place on the 31st May in the mist and wind and rain and I failed unsurprisingly to find any.

However I still managed to see some good wildlife on our travels, starting with a walk at Dove Dale on arriving in the area on the 28th May. It was hot and sunny and a walk along the river was a welcome relief after the long drive from Plymouth. A redhead goosander was very confiding as it rested along the river bank while dippers including a fledgling were seen nearby. A redstart was heard singing and a spotted flycatcher showed well in a tree. Along the river were quite a few female mallards with various sized ducklings.

Redhead Goosander

A peacock butterfly, male orange tips and male and female brimstones were flitting about and I managed to see a new butterfly species in the form of 3 dingy skippers which flitted around fast and low over the vegetation by the river bank, occasionally resting on the stoney path to bask in the sunshine.

Dingy Skipper

We stayed in Bakewell and a walk along the river in the town centre was pleasent with 2 male and 3 female tufted ducks, 2 summer plumaged black-headed gulls and a greylag goose being seen amongst the mallard, Canada Geese and mute swans. Some very large trout were seen, presumably well fed from bread scraps thrown to the ducks. It was nice to see lots of swifts overhead screaming in the warm sunshine.


We walked from Bakewell to Chatsworth House on the 29th May and the weather remained gorgeous. A tree pipit and 3 redstarts were heard and a speckled yellow moth was seen in some woodland along the walk. A small tortoiseshell flying by was a nice surprise as was a small herd of red deer in the deer park of Chatsworth House.

Red Deer

Male Chaffinch in Chatsworth House Gardens

A short walk on Beeley Moor on the 30th May in the hot and humid weather was eventful with a surprise find of an angle shades moth sitting out in the open on a clump of heather. Lots of male common heath moths were disturbed from the heather as I walked through it but were very difficult to get a good view of until I managed to catch one in a collecting point. A male pheasent exploded out of the heather scaring the crap out of me but a cuckoo heard calling nearby for a short while calmed me down!

Angle Shades

Male Common Heath

On the way to Biddulph Grange on the 31st May in the wind and rain and a brief stop at Derbyshire Bridge to look for red grouse resulted in a brief and distant view of one bird poking its head up from the grass and me getting completely and utterly soaked in the 10 minutes I was out of the car!

However on the way back we stopped here again and the rain had stopped and the mist had cleared and I managed to see 4 red grouse, a distant pair feeding in the heather and a distant pair feeding in the area where I saw the single bird in the morning. They were quite dark looking and I briefly heard a bird giving its distinctive "go-back" call. A raptor flew low over a ridge and I expected it to be a buzzard but on checking it out it was a very smart short eared owl, quite a surprise! It hunted over the Moor, spooking the 2 red grouse in the grass before disappearing from view although we later saw presumably the same bird hunting by the roadside as we drove off.

Derbyshire Bridge Moorland

Heading home on the 1st June and we stopped at Dove Dale again for a short walk before the long drive home to Plymouth. A spotted flycatcher was heard and good views of 2 male redstarts were had. A marsh tit showed very well feeding in the trees by the river and the early purple orchid I first saw on the 28th May had gone over and was wilting. It was cool but dry and no butterflys were on the wing so I didn't manage another view of the dingy skippers. I did find a smart froghopper on vegetation by the river side.


The drive home was a bit of a nightmare as it was the Friday before the long Jubilee Bank Holiday weekend and the traffic especially on the M5 near Bristol was heavy but it had been a great few days away, The Peak District is an amazingly beautiful place and I would love to go there again.

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