Goyt Valley 23.05.17

Overcast at first, sunny and warm later

A dozen members of the team gathered at Lamaload Reservoir beneath initially cloudy skies.  A first sweep across the water revealed very little, although the calls of Canada Geese had been heard as we approached the water. However, Swallows were glimpsed skimming low across the reservoir and then gradually a variety of species were noted: Canada Geese and Mallard; a Coot on its nest on the opposite shore; a lone Lapwing and then, just below us, a pair of Little Grebe, noisily making us aware of their presence, and a quieter family of Coot, a male and a female busily looking after two or three little ones. A Cormorant and a Pied Wagtail dropped in as we were about to leave, and, as we made our way back towards the cars, we caught sight of the first raptors of the day, a Buzzard soaring overhead and another slightly smaller bird, probably a Sparrow hawk.

At our next stop, Pym’s Chair, on the top of the ridge above the Goyt Valley, we were greeted by a strong wind and the lusty and exhilarating song of a Skylark, giving its all high above us. The strong wind, blowing through the abundant cotton grass all around us, seemed to be discouraging other birds, and we were about to leave when a large raptor flew overhead and began to hover over the valley behind us, more or less just at eye level. The colouration and habit of the bird led to some debate about what precisely it was.  After much consultation of handbooks, a view began to emerge that it must be a Rough-legged Buzzard. Subsequent consultation with other birding friends confirmed our identification, and it was certainly a spectacle that was enjoyed by all.

A brief stop at the upper Errwood Reservoir car park  added a Kestrel to our tally, but there was little else to see. And although the call of a Willow Warbler was clear and near, the vegetation at the side of the water was too dense to vouchsafe a view.

The Errwood House car park was our lunch stop and, between sandwiches, afforded some of the Team views of a Redstart, Song Thrush and Robin. Our wander up the road past the nest boxes produced some tantalising glimpses of what must have been Flycatchers, but these birds were very elusive and it was difficult to get good views and agree identification. There were clearer sightings of other species; Blue tits and Great tits flitting in and out of the nest boxes along the side of the road; a Great Spotted Woodpecker showing well high above us; a Grey Wagtail obligingly hoping across the road a short distance ahead of us; and a female Blackcap perching in one spot just long enough for more or less everyone to enjoy a fine view. The way back to the car park along the track above the road produced a number of treats and proved that you have to look down as well as up when out on a nature walk! First a small Green Vane Hairstreak butterfly was spotted in the middle of the path in front of us before it flew into the grass nearby, then a small group at the head of the main body of the team almost literally stumbled on a Woodcock that flew off to the left and finally, this time looking skywards, we had fine views of a Tree pipet, nicely silhouetted against the clear blue sky.

The welcome appearance of an ice-cream van on the car park allowed us to cool down from both excitement and exertion before we pressed on to the Derbyshire Bridge car park, from where we had distant views of red deer on the ridge across the valley.  A short ramble up onto the moor afforded us the spectacle of a Curlew seeing off a Raven that it clearly thought was coming much too near its nest somewhere in the heather below. The liquid gurgling of Grouse alerted us to the presence of these birds somewhere near and it wasn’t long before a pair was spotted, their heads erect, perhaps eyeing us cautiously, but without taking any evasive action.

Agreeing on one final stop on our day’s trip, we next made for the disused Danebarrow Quarries in search of Ring Ouzels that had been sighted here on previous visits. For some time there was determined scanning of the grassy areas and scree below us, but beyond the sight of some corvids in the distance,  there seemed to be little avian activity of any kind. Then, almost as we were about to admit defeat, a solitary Ring Ouzel was spotted and this bird obligingly proceeded to hop around in the open allowing all members of the group to enjoy good views. This provided an excellent finale to what had turned out to be one of our best trips to these locations in recent years.

Bird List (MH)

  1. Canada goose
  2. Mallard
  3. Red grouse
  4. Great crested grebe
  5. Little grebe
  6. Cormorant
  7. Grey heron
  8. Sparrowhawk
  9. Rough-legged buzzard
  10. Common buzzard
  11. Kestrel
  12. Coot
  13. Lapwing
  14. Curlew
  15. Woodcock
  16. Great spotted woodpecker
  17. Skylark
  18. Swallow
  19. House martin
  20. Tree pipit
  21. Meadow pipit
  22. Grey wagtail
  23. Pied wagtail
  24. Wren
  25. Dunnock
  26. Robin
  27. Redstart
  28. Blackbird
  29. Ring ouzel
  30. Song thrush
  31. Mistle thrush
  32. Willow warbler
  33. Blackcap
  34. Blue tit
  35. Great tit
  36. Treecreeper
  37. Magpie
  38. Raven
  39. Carrion crow
  40. Chaffinch

Photos JH and DC

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