Sorry Norfolk fans, for this post relates to a week away in Derbyshire. On adopting a patch, I promptly left the county....
The helpful folk from the relevant thread on birdforum put me in the direction of Wyver Lane NR, just 5 minutes from where we were staying in Milford. We managed two visits here, and whilst nothing out of the ordinary was seen this is clearly a well watched local patch with potential. A high count of 66 Lapwing were present on the 12th along with 2 Grey Herons, and a Kestrel was observed hunting on the 15th. During both visits a Water Rail was calling not far from the track.
2 trips to Carsington Water proved fruitful, on the 12th we saw 1 Greenshank, 1 LRP, 1 Dunlin and 1 Common Sandpiper. A single Red Crested Pochard, flyover Buzzard and good numbers of Tree Sparrow made for a good haul. A return trip on the 15th produced more of the same minus the waders.
Milford itself is a picturesque village and made for a good base to travel from. We had a Nuthatch on the bird feeder outside our cottage, a Tawny Owl called during the firework display on sunday night and a Kingfisher was seen from the bridge. Here, a number of Daubentens Bats were hunting of an evening. Just outside the village, a Little Owl was seen perched on some wires on a drive home.
The moors around Beeley, north of Matlock, had been a 'must do' from the start, but the time of year meant we could easily have left seeing nothing. A drive around produced a hunting Merlin, always great birds to watch. Scanning the heather for Grouse produced a Raven and a Crossbill flew over calling. Star bird goes to a female Goshawk, seen dashing low over the heather away from a conifer plantation. My first thought was, bloody big Sparrowhawk, the rest is history.
We also visited Coombes Valley RSPB across the border in Staffs. A real gem of a place with more 'new' habitat to explore. A quiet day on the bird front, with a Nuthatch seen, but good for butterflies; Debs managed good pictures of Comma and Peacock, whilst Small Copper and Green Veined White were also seen. The habitat here is great for Redstart, Wood Warbler and Pied Flycatcher, the latter of which we saw a single bird as we left the reserve. Little did we know there were plenty back home in Norfolk by now...
The Peak District is great to explore, and whilst I am of the opinion that you cannot beat Norfolk birding, you get the impression that there are some genuine wild places here that are desperate to be looked into.
As well as the birds, Alton Towers was a rain soaked laugh a minute. The Holly Bush Inn in Makeney is a superb pub, and the King William back down the hill into Milford is not bad either.
A Red Kite was seen on the drive home, somewhere near Corby.