Location: Stanage Edge
Attendees – Gillian, Katie, Clare, Jayne, Annie & Shaz
Date of tour: 17th April 2022
Number of species – 31
For me this tour was a nervy one. You can never promise any species when taking people out on a guided walk, as nature is unpredictable at the best of times. There are locations where I can feel confident of finding the star bird, but Stanage Edge and the sometimes elusive Ring Ouzel is not one of those places.
We met at 08:00 & we were immediately greeted with the song of the Willow Warbler, 2 or 3 warblers singing around the car park. Blue Tit, Robin, Coal Tit, Chaffinch & a distant Chiffchaff were also seen & heard too.
Then Lynne noticed a bird we had never seen at this location before, a male Pied Flycatcher skulking around the thick understory but not showing very well.
We decided to move on & walk up the hill through the plantation & on to the Long Causeway. On the climb we had more Willow Warbler, had a brief glimpse of a Jay, plenty of Meadow Pipit & Carrion Crow.
A Wren was singing from what was left of a felled tree & a Raven was calling from along the edge of the escarpment. Woodpigeon called & displayed as we left the treeline & headed for the Stanage Pole. Red Grouse could be seen proudly standing on the highest of rocks which gave wonderful views through the scope, red combs standing out against the dull brown heather. We stopped at the pole for a drink & snack, plus very nice chocolate cornflake buns provided by Clare, thanks Clare. Here Skylark serenaded us with a cascade of notes that only a Skylark can produce.
We than had our first fleeting look at our target bird for the day, Ring Ouzel. A female in the distance that only showed for a second or two. Then Curlew & Snipe through the scope with their haunting calls filling the air.
We then head down to where I had seen Ring Ouzel a few days before, but no sign today. It was getting busy with climbers & I was getting worried we wouldn’t get better views than seen earlier. We watched a Kestrel hovering below us, every feather detail visible, then a Buzzard launched from a tree & soared over the heather with ease. It was joined by a second and both drifted north west and out of sight.
Male Pheasant were calling and displaying from below along with Lapwing in the distance.
But still no Ring Ouzel. We did have the bonus of seeing a Common Lizard warming itself on a stone wall, I had never seen one up this close, it was marvellous.
We then reached the mill stones & made ourselves comfortable for lunch. As we ate, a pair of Wheatear appeared at a distance but were nice to see. Then a shout of Kestrel! But not this time, a Red Kite drifted across in front of us and looked amazing in the warm sunlight. It then circled over us & disappeared. Wow, that was unexpected but most welcome. Now it was time for a decision, do we carry on and give up on the Ouzels? No, we decide to backtrack to give ourselves the best chance. We saw Stonechat and more great views of Meadow Pipit, then Jayne shouted out “I think I’ve found one”, and she had. A beautiful male with its white chest glowing in the sunshine. I quickly got the scope set up and we all enjoyed the bird for about 10 minutes before heading off down the hill & towards the Warren. As we looked back a Rock/Feral pigeon landed, & we said goodbye to the moorland.
I had hopes for the woodland, but it was quiet with only Song Thrush, Nuthatch, Jackdaw, Blackbird & Long-tailed Tit being added to the days tally.
31 species & some great memories to store away. We had walked further than expected and we were all tired, but I knew by tomorrow it wouldn’t matter & only the good bits would be remembered. Thanks to all my fellow watchers, here’s to next time, wherever that may be.