Wednesday, 29 October 2008
Padley Gorge has been on the list of long forgotten birdwatching destinations I never quite seem to make it to, like other birding sites of local reknown well within easy reach, Lound, Holme Pierrepont and Willington Gravel Pits, to name just three, much heard of but never given time to. So it makes me rather happy to type up a post about my visit to Padley Gorge.
In the far east of the Peak District this is more walking than birdwatching country, and few walks could offer more splendour for less strain than the one we chose from Grindleford. Less than four miles, it packs in oak woodland, the drama of the gorge and some fringes of moorland.
Now autumn really isn't the time to go birdwatching here, aim for the spring and dapper characters like Pied Flycatchers and Redstart are on the menu. Still, for now there are the warm colours and crisp aromas of the fall season to enliven the senses.
Stonechat up on the open stretch of the walk was about as exciting as the birdlife got, stout birds though, let's not devalue them please!
Late in the day, the drive home neatly led us via Leash Fen, an area of wet moorland interspersed with scatterings of birch hitherto unknown to many a Derbyshire birdwatcher until the delightful news of the convergence of up to 8 Short-eared Owls, attracted by an explosion in the vole population this year, or 'mole' population as another source might have it. I'm sure it's voles though. 4 birds are still there, regular as clockwork they quarter the area, just after four 0'clock when the weather suits. Nice birds, the peeved expression, generated by the patterns on their facial disk, gives them a real air of attitude, there is almost something of the Demon Headmaster in them when they look directly at you.