The safari has been out and about for a few days hols this festive season braving the Arctic conditions of the southern end of the Peak District National Park, about 100 miles SE from Base Camp.
The drive down took us through some beautiful perfect Christmas Card snowy woodland scenery to the south of Buxton – then we hit the fog and saw nothing. Lots of snow at Christmas – who would have believed it!
Arriving at our cottage we discovered that there was a bird feeder just a few feet from the sitting room window. Perfect for early morning photography apart from the slight shooting angle through a double glazed window. The usual suspects were there; Blue, Great and Coal Tits,
Robins and Dunnocksand we had an all too brief visit from a Nuthatch and Great Spotted Woodpecker.Resident thrushes included Blackbird and Song Thrush visiting with Mistle Thrush flying around along with Fieldfares from time to time.
Out on the adjoining field Frank had great games of rugby (just look at those ears!) and in the snow we could see where the local deer had been. The local herd of Norwegian Black Fallow Deer were very shy and we only got a brief and distant view of them across the fields. However they did pass through the garden and along the driveway during the dead of night,our hosts asked us to keep the gates closed if we came back late to stop them eating the garden! These droppings were found right outside the kitchen window on Boxing Day morning…hmmm, maybe they weren’t from those Fallow Deer but a different species of deer altogether…one of them is reputed to have a red nose perhaps…
As the sun came up later in the morning a Buzzard started to circle over the woods across the little valley and called a couple of times. I whistled the ‘ppeeeooo’ call several times and Frank and I had double impressive views of the Buzzard only about 25 feet (<10m) id="BLOGGER_PHOTO_ID_5420710401294190162" style="DISPLAY: block; MARGIN: 0px auto 10px; WIDTH: 400px; CURSOR: hand; HEIGHT: 300px; TEXT-ALIGN: center" alt="" src="http://3.bp.blogspot.com/_eaxuFdRPxpI/Szo7Y8tnxlI/AAAAAAAADLc/NSoaoJweN98/s400/ninesisters.jpg" border="0">It looks nice and quiet but there were hundreds of people out walking off the previous day’s culinary excesses. While we were there we had the accompaniment of a pair of Ravens cronking loudly over the woodland. The woods themselves seemed devoid of birds until we veered off the main track a bit and flushed abut twenty Redwings. If they had any sense all other birds would be buzzing around the feeders in the village gardens rather than sitting out the freezing conditions up the hill. Frank once again managed to give himself mild hypothermia by hoovering up to much snow in to his stomach – dozy mutt – the sound of his teeth chattering was alarming from the back of the Land Rover, sounded like something mechanical was broken. Last ‘sighting’ of the trip was the sound of a Green Woodpecker yaffling in the adjacent woods as we were loading the Land Rover. Our journey back to Base Camp was supposed to be the scenic route over the moors and through the valleys past some superb National Nature Reserves but seriously dense freezing fog put paid to that plan. But once we’d almost left the moorland the fog lifted to reveal stunning snowy views across the hills. Only one thing for it – a return visit in the spring is needed. In the four days we were there we had thirty species of birds – pick of the bunch were the nightly Tawny Owl hooting competition (how many were there? – there seemed to be one hooting from every other tree – never heard anything quite like it – what a racket), a flock of Siskins, and a Woodcock over the garden early on Christmas morning on the way back from Franks 6.00am walk. No mammals except the aforementioned deer and a very fresh large Badger that was lying dead on the side of the road on the way home – what a shame.
Where to next? Back to the patches…
In the meantime let us know what you’ve been seeing in your festive outback