The dawn chorus walk (11th May 2019)

The Dawn Chorus Walk, Sunday 11th May.

Eight DFBS members met up with our three birders ( Brian, Charles  and Malcolm ) from the Dronfield Natural History Society at 4.30am for this year’s Dawn Chorus at Blackamoor Nature Reserve. The small car park there is at the side of Hathersage Road near Fox House, close to the junction with Stoney Ridge Road.                                                                                     

The sky was starting to get light as we started out through the woodland area and as we were walking through, the first of the birds were singing  –  Blackbird, Robin, Blackcap, Chiffchaff and  Wren were the first to be heard and then Great Tit, Song Thrush, Willow Warbler, Dunnock and Whitethroat were added to the list.  Further away a Pheasant was calling and as we continued a Curlew flew over.  As we emerged into more open ground, there were small patches of ground frost, but by this time the sun was coming up and was a red ball on the horizon.  We dropped down right, through Blacka Moor and Blacka Plantation and were glad to become more sheltered from a gentle but cool breeze that had started. At least two Great Spotted Woodpeckers were heard as we descended.   We came to Blacka Dyke and followed this for a few hundred yards, adding to our birds and flowers list as we went. It was here we came across our first mammal of the day – a rather bedraggled looking cuddly toy on top of a way marker post.                                                                                              

We then turned right again and crossed the stream on the stepping stones, and began the steady climb up towards Lenny Hill where we stopped for a coffee break and could now feel the warmth of the sun. Whilst having our break we spotted three Red Deer on the track above us. They got to their feet and had a good long look at us before ambling off slowly into cover as we approached – a lovely sight! As we continued up towards Blacka Hill a Cuckoo was heard but we didn’t manage a sighting this year, but we did spot a Green Woodpecker and a Kestrel was hovering, looking for breakfast. As we came back out onto the moor we noted Garden Warbler, Mistle Thrush, Goldfinch, Chaffinch, Swallow, Skylark, Meadow Pipit and a Red Grouse was calling.   Walking back towards the car park in a grassy area on our right called Cowsick, we spotted another group of twelve Red Deer on the ground basking in the now very pleasant sunshine – and as a bonus the breeze had now dropped.Flowers noted on the walk were –  Dandelion, Crosswort, Daisy, Dog Violet, Wood Sorrel. Wild Strawberry, Bluebell, Germander Speedwell, Tormentil, Bilberry, Cowberry, Rowan, Cow Parsley, Sweet Violet, Greater Stitchwort, Creeping Buttercup, Golden Saxifrage, Yellow Archangel, Jack-by-the Hedge, Herb Robert, Meadow Buttercup, Crab Apple, Ramson and Common Vetch.  Just one fungus, Hoof or Tinder Fungus was noted.Back at the car park as we were getting our boots off a Curlew flew past calling, just like last year, and landed on a nearby wall. It was then a short drive to The Moorlands at Owler Bar for the ‘All you can eat Breakfast’ which we all decided we had earned, getting up so early.  And very nice it was too!!

Report by Brian Smithson and Graham Gill/ Pics by Richard S and Graham Gill (Graham’s have captions)