Monday, April 11, 2011


Once more with a knack for believing the wrong weather forecast I headed for Derbyshire on what turned out to be another cloudy day. Last year Brian Davis commented on the fact that the water voles at Cromford ..... well, weren't. So I didn't have high hopes, but I knew dull light there was better than in a wooded valley, so I gave it a bash. Wandering along I didn't see anything, but then heard an unmistakable 'plop' behind me. I only saw ripples, but realised a vole must have been on the far bank behind the brambles until the strolling moorhen gave it a fright. Based on past experience I knew it was then just a waiting game, and eventually in one of the canal wall holes a face appeared.
In time it had a swim to a more photogenic spot for a light bite .........
then another swim, and it was gone.
I stayed a while, had another walk and prevaricated a bit too long before heading for Lathkill Dale. The moorhen were in grumpy mood
butterbur was a nice touch (an English first for me)
and on the far bank a small shape flitted from crevice to crevice.

Soon enough I found the purpose of the visit, showing quite well, but not apparently very hungry. This was a problem, because all the birds I saw were bejewelled with brightly coloured bling. Nice to watch, but not so good to snap. When feeding they stand in the water and can hide the rings, but this late afternoon it was just posing and preening.
They looked a bit like cheap wellies in this shot.
Distant shots were marginally less obvious (on this scale at least)
In the end I found that the one with the red ring didn't look too bad if I turned down the red saturation in Lightroom.
Interestingly trying the same with orange on the other bird just led to the bird changing colour too. In fairness the dippers have had a hard time of late apparently, so I guess they do need to try and keep track of them somehow, and colour rings are the easiest way.
So not as successful as I had hoped, and the ISO was cranked up most of the day, but still a cracking part of the world.
As ever a few more shots in the web albums.


Caroline Gill said...

I really enjoyed this post, not least because it reminded us of our happy time watching the Cromford water voles some years ago. We were in fact passing through the county last w/e, and saw the sign to 'Cromford Mill' ...

We also saw Butterbur (can't see your spelling at present - this from memory) on our waterside travels. I imagined it was a garden escape, so failed to photograph it. Ah well, at least I know what it is now.

We were really on our way back to South Wales from puffin-spotting off the Yorkshire cliffs. Most were still out to sea, but a few came in to rootle round their favourite cliff edge nesting burrows. Haven't posted any 2011 puffin photos yet, but I will ...

Brian J Davis said...

Hi Bri,

Well worth the trip, dont you just hate all this ringing stuff, I know its supposed to aid us in answering important natural questions but its a bit OTT at the mo. In the forest today I got views of Chaffinch, Siskin, Hawfinch, and Blue tit at one spot and all were wearing bling.

hope to see you in the forest soon.

Brian said...

The thing I wonder about is the actual return in proportion to all the work. The satellite locator tagged nightingale recovered last year was said to tell them more about migration than all the ringing over the years. At Lathkill colour rings mean they can easily track individuals, but not in the forest I'd have thought? certainly not attractive for photos. Glad to hear you bagged a haw. Brian