Coombe Valley and Cromford canal

We had a quiet day on Sunday I was on a sewing day and we were both tired after work.

We therefore waited until Monday and decided to go looking for pied flycatcher, redstarts and garden warblers.

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We found the weather had become rather cooler and cloudy but it was dry and a bank holiday and remember that in the UK that in itself is a minor miracle.

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We arrived and as we found we were a couple of weeks later this year, the trees were nearly all in full leaf.

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A pair of great spotted woodpeckers foraged across the top field we suspected they had a nest nearby.

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Ciffchaffs and willow warblers were everywhere. Song thrushes and blackbirds were singing very vociferously. Robins, wrens and dunnocks were also defending territory.

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We found out first pied flycatcher by the bridge where we used to play Pooh sticks. There was a basket of sticks and a notice giving instructions for playing Pooh sticks by the bridge.

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Further down the stream I like to imagine the laziest beavers in Britain just poking their noses out of their lodge and collecting the sticks that flow down stream towards them. Who needs to forage for sticks when you have children providing a constant supply of them.  A sort of chavs of the beaver world.

The only pied flycatchers that we saw were males. I am assuming that the females were on eggs as we saw at least one male visiting the nest box regularly. One male was singing from the top of a tree  in full view for several minutes.

In the same location we saw a spotted flycatcher flitting into a small tree. We suspected it had a nest close by.

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We walked the shorter circuit and whilst we couldn’t find redstarts we did have a goshawk flying over an unexpected bonus.

The bluebell woods were lovely with real English bluebells. They droop and the flowers are only present on one side of the stem.

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Greater stitchwort was abundant.

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We also found wood millet, so that was three indicators of ancient woodland indicators.

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We also found several garden warblers singing lustily. By the pond we found a pair of grey wagtails together .

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 We found  cardinal beetles

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We also found dock beetles

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And we found a species of red and black planthopper. We found yellow pimpernel

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and wood sorrel

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Buoyed with our success we drove across the moors and visited Cromford, arriving at approximately 4pm.

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We walked to the bridge just to find scaffolding covering the structure. We thought that the structural work could have compelled the dippers to nest elsewhere and they were not in evidence.

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We saw yellow archangel

The woods were full of wild garlic which was magnificent if a little smelly.

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We found a glow worm larva crossing the path.

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I am off the London on Tuesday to have a few days away.  I will be in touch and let you know what I see and how I get on.

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Bempton Cliffs

Just to let you know about out latest trips to go birdwatching.

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We started the bank holiday with a trip to Bempton  Cliffs. The weather was sunny but a stiff onshore breeze ensured that we were not overly warm.

We arrived late morning and walked across the cliffs.

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Guillimots and razorbills were nesting but as yet no chicks were visible.

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The kittiwakes were also nesting and flocks of birds would settle on the grass at the top of the cliff to pull out beakfuls of grass ready to line their nests.

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The cliffs were covered in pink campion.

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We found four corn buntings as we walked along the cliff edge.  Definitely evidence that this species is doing well at this site.

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We returned to the car for lunch and then went for a walk in the other direction. The gannets were pair bonding, their behaviour was very touching although I realise I am anthropomorphising .

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There were more puffins that previous years so hopefully these will be more plentiful than in previous years.

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Unfortunately my mobile needed charging so I had to use my tablet to take photos.

They have a thriving number of tree sparrows and the new visitors centre is really lovely.

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Anyway I added kittiwake, razorbill, guillemot, gannet and puffin to my  list for this year.

We had to take the long way home as the M1 was closed southbound for road works.

THE IMPERIAL WAR MUSEUM AND BLETCHLEY PARK

This weekend we went on an organised trip to the Imperial War Museum and Bletchley Park. The pleasure of these outings is augmented by the company and opportunities for eavesdropping on fellow travellers.  Honestly the couple of ladies near us talked incessantly for over two hours. You think I talk a lot but compared to these two I am a complete novice.

These are the naval guns that are outside the museum

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After  number of hours stuck in traffic we reached the museum. I was pleasantly surprised by how much I enjoyed it.

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The top floor was devoted to displays of soldiers and civilians who had won either the Victoria cross of the George Medal Every individual had descriptions of what activity they had accomplished to be awarded the medal facsimiles of newspaper articles and details of what had happened to them afterwards. I learned a great deal and found out a great deal about people who had won various medals. We spent quite some time browsing the exhibits.

The next floor down was devoted to a massive exhibition on the holocaust. It was traumatic to go through that but I thought if people had lived through it I should at least be prepared to examine the exhibition. Although I could only stand the holocaust part for a limited time before I had to leave.

This is a V1 flying bomb

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  Lower floors had exhibitions on recent wars as well as the second and first world wars.

This is a Japanese Zero

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One of the most moving exhibits was a series of sheets of stamps each sheet was an image of one soldier killed in the Iraq and  Afghanistan wars. At the edge of the sheet there were details of how old they were and some were only teenagers which was quite upsetting.

Obviously this is a spitfire

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There were some excellent displays, I learnt a great deal and your father was in his element. especially when he spied the military hardware from the second world war.

This is a Russian T34 Tank

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We stayed in the museum until just before we needed to reassemble missing a lovely sunny day outside. We stayed at a generic hotel but it was comfortable. In the morning the breakfasts were late which engendered an avalanche of moaning and when the cooked breakfasts finally arrived there were no eggs. This produced more moaning. If there is something we are good at in Britain it is complaining.

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We got to Bletchley Park mid morning and spent five hours there. The place is full of interactive touchscreen displays and problems to solve.

Here is a picture of an enigma machine

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I was like a pig in clover as underneath I am just a big kid so I went from exhibition to exhibition solving ciphers and loving every moment. We took a photo of Turing’s teddy. Well who wouldn’t?

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I had a photo taken with the Alan Turing statue it was an unusual moment for both of us. Probably the closest he has got to a woman in years.

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Many of the buildings were as they were at the time. There were displays of costumes and sets from The Imitation Game and stage props such as bicycles.

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Anyway the weather was lovely and stayed dry we had a good time and I spent quite a lot of money in various bookshops. It was possible to buy a make your own enigma machine which was tempting until I saw the price.

Quite a few rooms had been restored to the way that they were

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Attenborough

Buoyed with our success we decided to stay local and visit Attenborough to see what had flown in. As we are lazy at the weekend we didn’t get out until late in the morning and made our way from the car park up the main drag and round to tower hide. We had barely arrived when we were informed that a night heron had flown in to the reserve and was currently roosting near tower hide.

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We made out way swiftly to the path that leads from tower hide to the fisherman’s car park and just beneath a heron nest was the night heron roosting in  tree. It was remarkably conspicuous especially as the other times we have seen them they have skulked in the reeds or under the overhang of trees. We couldn’t see much of its head but occasionally it would open a single red eye and glare balefully at us. We stayed watching it for some twenty minutes. We made our way slowly back to tower hide. We could hear the bittern booming in the reeds behind us and a grasshopper warbler singing in the field with the brambles. We couldn’t see the grasshopper warbler but when we stood on the top platform of tower hide we managed to see it clearly in the thicket.

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Sedge warblers, linnets and assorted chiffchaffs and whitethroats were also singing lustily.

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Chiff chaff

We watched the grasshopper warbler for some fifteen minutes and  then made out way back to the centre. The other side of the centre we went into the sand martin hide. The birds are so close you can see every feather and it is a magical experience. At the front of the hide along the water’s edge a common sandpiper was walking backwards and forwards. We watched him closely and we were very pleased as it was the first common sandpiper we have seen this year ( not so common then). The night heron and the grasshopper warbler together with the common sandpiper bring my total number of bird species seen this year up to a hundred and sixty two. If I see another thirty eight species I will have reached my target for the year.  The ground ivy, ladies smock and cowslips were all in flower as were violets. We saw comma, small tortoiseshell, orange tips in profusion and a peacock. After we had come home I saw my first Holly blue in the garden. Your father is on a snail’s course next weekend so not much bird watching then.

I finish with a picture of a Cetti’s warbler they are everywhere at Attenborough there must be at least 20 pairs on the reserve.We didn’t take this shot fat chance with the fleeting glimpses we get but it is a lovely bird.

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“O to be in England now that April’s here”

Well that is the title of a poem by Robert Browning.

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This was a caterpillar on a blackthorn blossom

However this weekend we decided to hunt for migrants. We started off our quest at Eyebrook reservoir in Leicestershire. It was rather cold and murky. This weather will be but a distant memory for you as you bask in sunny Italy. However we did see yellow wagtails and the little owl was back in his tree. We swiftly moved on to Rutland where we saw the ospreys both on the nest and flying over lagoon four. In fact Lagoon four was a magnet for migrants as we picked up curlew sandpiper just starting to come into summer plummage, a couple of raven flew over the lagoon and late in the afternoon 5 whimbrel flew in causing us to make a mad dash for the hide to see them in case they migrated further north. They were on a scrape and stayed out giving excellent views of the stripes on their heads and their diagnostic features. At lagoon three we had a couple of Arctic terns fishing and two hobbies flew over the trees at the back. We watched them for over half an hour. We could see the red on them and saw them catch several insects which they proceeded to pass from their talons to their mouth in mid air.

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The ladies smock was out as you can see

As the sun was out despite being chilly we saw several species of butterflies including orange tip, speckled wood, peacock, comma and a species of white which took off before we could get close enough to identify it.

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Several bees were also about including Bombus leucorum , white tailed bumblebee, Bombus lapidarius red tailed bumble bee, Andrena fulva tawny mining bee and Andrena cineraria ashy headed mining bee. All in all we saw seventy eight different species of bird, eight of which we hadn’t seen this year.

There were still a great many primroses in flower and cowslips were blooming in the flower meadows.

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We also found some forget me nots wood ones

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Well In know it is a short post but I leave you with a picture of the Fritillaria meleagris, snakeshead fritillaries,  blooming in the wild flower meadow. Unfortunately to protect them from the rabbits they are completely encase in wire fencing. This makes them appear to be imprisoned.

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