Steve Godson and I last Sunday (June 14th) went to Padley Gorge for the day after I was told it was a great place to visit and possibly see Pied Flycatcher, Redstart, Spotted Flycatcher, Wood Warbler, Whinchat, Tree Pipit and more! Now as a lot on the above list were lifers for me and Steve we picked a day to go where my wife and 2 daughters were at eden Hall Spa using their Xmas treat from good old me! 😉
We arrived and parked up near the Ice Cream Van which is an unusual landmark to use as a guide, it’s normally pubs eh? Below was this first sight as we looked over the roadside wall towards the north end of the Gorge.
I was told via a Derbyshire birders Facebook group that the birds could be seen within 5 minutes of entering the Gorge walking down towards Grindleford and its cafe and rail station.
Well as soon as we got to the gate to enter the Gorge walk after crossing the river by bridge I saw a Grey Wagtail for long enough to take 6 blurry photos before it flew off. Then I caught sight of a glorious male Redstart to our right in a quiet section near the main path and gate.
Steve and I hung around for a while and only got a couple of fleeting views of this bird and so we moved into the Gorge, what a place it was, it has a ‘magical feel to the place’ to paraphrase Keith who gave me some invaluable info on where to look for birds as a first timer including where the ice cream van was, Ta Keith!
Below a few shots from the inside of the Gorge and it mystical looking wooded areas.
We looked for Dipper on the peat coloured river running through the Gorge but none were seen, while walking the rocky uneven paths you are quite high above the river so spotting a Dipper would take some doing. The cool damp feel the woods in the Gorge had meant moss and lycen was covering loads of the vegetation with ferns of varying types being a plenty too.
The bird watching for a good few minutes was proving difficult for the target birds with only Chaffinch, Robin and other commons being seen. We saw a few nest boxes that we were told to keep our eyes open for and again not much movement or noise here either.
We went onto the moors where we were told Stonechat, Whinchat and Tree Pipits could be seen, now as we walked the rough tracks of the moor the weather became more dark and moody a parachuting Pipit was seen from a far, was this a Tree Pipit?
To cut a long story (walk) short we saw only Pipits on the moor and below you can see 2 photos of what could be two differing looking birds, or are they? a few of my Twitter followers have said to me that photo one below is a Tree Pipit and the second a Meadow Pipit.
Some members of the Derbyshire birders Facebook group debated on the 4 images (2 of which are below) I uploaded onto this page with most saying all were Meadow Pipits so what do you think? I would love to hear.
We headed back and began a more earnest and deeper look into the wooded areas as you can see in the photo below the bins became invaluable in searching out the elusive birds.
As we were looking in an area just off the main walkway through the Gorge we had a bird fly from behind us and over our heads and land about 12 feet in front, it was a male Pied Flycatcher, result! It flew off as quick as it landed and we managed some great pics of its rear end! Well at least we had seen one Steve eh?
The next and our last 90 minutes proved to be the most fruitful with about 6 Pied Flycatchers of both sexes being seen with one pair using a nest box and rearing chicks, we saw chicks stick out their head calling for food from the busy parents.
Redstarts then began to show better than when we first arrived and we both managed to get the best photos to date that Steve and I have achieved of this species.
In the same secluded area where I first saw the male Redstart we saw two males and female with all birds being very active.
This same area also gave us views of noisy young Song Thrushes, this is always a nice species to see wherever you go, well it is on my book.
So all in all a great day for us even if you include dodging all the dog mess we had been pre-warned about. We both agreed that we would be calling back one day