As is normal just lately the best laid plans are thrown out of the window; I was going up onto the moors again but the weather did not look promising so I went on the lookout for Water Voles. Usually I would like so many others go to Cromford but I had made the decision to try a new area that I had seen and been told by work colleagues that there was a lot of signs of vole activity.
Photographically not as good as Cromford but there is the challenge!
No sooner had I got there I was rushing back to the car for the camera as I had just spotted a Weasel, in the short few seconds it registered I noticed it was going up the canal wall using the burrows and hole entrances made by the voles.
The first view I had it popped out of a hole and gave me a look and was soon gone
I knew this was going to be more difficult than I first thought, I spent over an hour with this small killing machine and gradually I was able to get closer, wether this is field craft or luck it certainly made my day.
And to my surprise as I watched the Weasel using the underground tunnel network it never did seem to bother the voles
As for the Water Voles, well I had more sightings in three hours than I have had for a long time at Cromford.
It was a long shot; once again the great British weather was up to it's normal tricks but I just had to get out of the house. I decided to have a run up to the moors and have a look to see if there were any Adders showing. It was cloudy on arrival but the sun did periodically show itself albeit for very short periods. After nearly two hours of going round in circles I gave it one last look and just as I was giving up I noticed a slight movement from between two small rocks, my first Adder of 2014.
If you believe everything you read then you would think it mad to go in February especially with the temperature as low as it was but this time last year I was with a friend of mine and we were
photographing Adders in the snow!! All it takes is a slight rise in the temperature and things tend to happen.
This was the first of two Males that made the best of what little sun we had.
He eventually came and flattened himself out to make the best of the (slightly) warmer weather
Sometimes last minute decisions are for the best tonight I decided to go up again for the Starling roost at Middleton Moor. Travelling in bright sunshine this would soon change to a dark moody sky and a very cold wind; top that with the snow on the ground it was very cold; and with it being a last minute call I was not prepared as I should have been. The Starlings started to show coming in in varying numbers; from handfulls to vast flocks. What took me by surprise was that until someone close to us made the comment "look they are all in that field" I, and several others had not noticed but the birds had been coming in over shooting the reed bed and landing in a field next to the road. I made the decision to move for a closer look; not only that I was absolutely freezing! What a site it was thousands of birds on the deck and every now and then a group would take off and head back over the road into the reeds. I only saw a fraction of the birds and I now wander what it must have been like with the majority of the birds down in the field; perhaps next time!!
As I got back to the road this is what greeted me, it was to late to change lenses. Oil slick comes to mind!
Now and then in small groups they would lift and head for the reeds
And then the inevitable happened; they all lifted and once again the show was over.
At long last I managed to get out with the camera the other day, after what seemed to be weeks of wet and dismal weather, especially on my days off!
So it was back to my friends house to try a hide and feeding area set up by the lady of the house. The nicest thing was that this area attracted up to 18 Yellowhammers and some males were in great condition.
With a little more work and a slightly stronger hide this site could work for a lot more species that had been attracted down including Tree Sparrow and (maybe) Common Buzzard watch this space as they say.