Saturday, 22 August 2015


Wednesday's walk was in the Peak once again, this time along the river Dove from Hartington village. It was a very pretty five- or six-mile route through the dale, and we had sunshine for most of the time we were out.

A juvvy male House Sparrow in the village.

We followed a footpath into fields and soon arrived at one of those little spots that was just bristling with birdlife - a row of three hawthorns with all sorts of things jumping about in them. I saw Chaffinch, Chiffchaff, Willow Warbler, Common Whitethroat, Blue Tit, Wren and, best of all, a female-type Redstart.

The Redstart actually struck a nice pose for me before flitting off to a nearby hedgerow. Shortly afterwards a Buzzard drifted over, meowing plaintively.

The path presently entered a very dark area of woodland, and descended to meet the river. It was in this very shady area that we found our first Dipper, sitting on a rock having a preen. I took a few max-ISO pics but they weren't up to much.

Things then opened out and the sunshine was back. As soon as we moved out from the tree cover, a big flock of Rooks came over. These two black-billed juveniles were in particularly high spirits.

The trail followed the river for some distance, while on either side steep hillsides rose, making our path very sheltered as well as very sunny.

View along the river. I switched lenses for a moment when we stopped to chat to a pair of seriously well kitted-out 'togs'.

This young Grey Wagtail permitted quite close approach.

A Grey Heron waiting on a rock halfway up the hillside, hoping we would go away quickly so it could get back to fishing the river.

There were a lot of Mallards in the river, many of them pristine-looking eclipse drakes like this one.

We then found a trio of Dippers, and I spent an age taking pics of one of them while H and M walked on. The light was tricky - now and then the bird would move into a sunny spot but most of its preferred hunting areas were shady. However, I can't argue with how confiding it was - some of my shots are barely cropped, it was so close.

Brilliant birds. You won't find many birders who don't have a soft spot for Dippers.

The dale was also full of insecs. Unfortunately both of these hoverfly pics are over-exposed, because I forgot to change settings back from what I'd used for some of the landscape pics, d'oh.

Insect of the day - a Dark Green Fritillary. This butterfly kept me busy for some time and weaving in and out of a surprised flock of sheep as it playfully refused to settle for more than a microsecond, but eventually I ran it to ground.

Compared to the delights of the riverside stretch, the return loop was not so good. The path left the river and meandered along shady valley-sides. We found more Redstarts, but these were less confiding. Also numerous Kestrels. I was impressed by the state of this one's tail - I think it must be a male born 2014 as it still has one juvenile-type tail feather in there.

It began to drizzle as we walked down a steep road to rejoin the village, and by the time we'd finished our lunch in the lovely cafe there, the rain had really set in and stayed that way for the rest of the day.

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