I’m not about to tell you about a tragic event which resulted in me coming into money, I’m merely referring to what my Dad calls “my inheritance”… his camera!
A relatively new birder, my Dad has been well and truly bitten (bittern?!) by the bug. He soon branched out into wildlife photography and his camera soon branched out into larger and larger lenses.
On Friday 4th of January I grabbed the opportunity of a day with my Dad (and his camera of course!) and we headed to a few sites local to my sister and family in Matlock.
The day began at Cromford where I collected my Dad from the train station. From here we both knew that we’d head a short way over the river in search of a very special bird. This would be the third time that Dad attended this site and perhaps around the fifteenth time for me. I’d usually search around the churchyard at dusk in vain (a bit spooky by yourself too!) and return home empty handed. Fortunately, this was to be our lucky day! As we pulled into the car park across the road from the church we spied a gaggle of birders with scopes trained on the tops of the trees over on the far bank of the river. I didn’t wait to ask them what they’d seen. As soon as I could sling on my harness and binoculars I had them pointed up to the tree tops… was this they? Those bulky looking finches that had alluded me so often? I couldn’t quite tell, but I knew. Hawfinches, yes two Hawfinch sat way up high. I approached the birders with scopes and jumped in to have a look. Wow! They were quite a sight! The sun lit them perfectly as they sat, angry-faced, not knowing how we birders covet them. We had a minute or two of fantastic views before they flew on their way. Goodbye for now.
We had a quick pit-stop in a lay-by with feeders where my brother-in-law had recently seen a Lesser Spotted Woodpecker. The lesser pecker was not present, but there were tits galore and a nuthatch to add to my Dad’s year-list.
It was midday by now (after some detours to collect my belongings for returning to Wales later that day) and we stopped for a bag of chips by Cromford duck pond. There were the usual suspects, mute swan, coot, mallard and tufted duck. This would have to be the best view of tufted duck I’ve ever had the privilege of seeing. Not only was one brave tufty sat on the water just a metre from our feet, but then he/she and another treated us to an underwater show as they fed on the weeds below. The pond was very shallow and we could see perfectly as they foraged in the green. Needless to say, our cameras were in the car.
After chips, we moved on to RSPB Carsington Water. We has been here on New Years Eve with Ken when he visited, but had returned to photograph the birds here.
I was in awe of the hide just a few minutes walk from the visitor centre; heated and comfortable! From inside this cosy, grass-topped hut we were able to watch willow tit and tree sparrow from the left-hand window, whilst wildfowl and waders could be spied through the front panels of glass. We’d even had a close encounter with a sparrowhawk just the other side of the glass on our first visit.
A+ for visitor interaction I have to say! I smiled as a young girl visiting with her family exclaimed “this is boring!”, but struggled to be pulled away from the interactive info panels when her embarrassed parents hastily tried to avoid the gaze of the other inhabitants.
Also in this hide, I nosily approached two gentlemen talking in hushed tones over in the corner. They turned out to be Stuart and Rob who were recording material for their wildlife show on Radio Cherwell. You can listen to this show wherever you are in the world over the internet, if you ‘listen live‘ on Wednesdays at 4:30pm or on Saturdays at 2pm.
Further round the lake I snapped this magpie, a picture I am pleased with as it captures the personality of this beautiful (and much maligned) garden visitor.
A kestrel flew over my head and I used my best bush craft to get close enough to photograph the bird. She obviously approved as she flew even closer to me and I took this snap above my head!
That was the last day of my Christmas break in Derbyshire before returning to Anglesey (minus the inheritance) to resume business as normal. I’ve had a fantastic time birding since, more of which will follow later (and you can check out my last blog post too).
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All the best from a not-yet-snowy Anglesey,