Vic's Diary 2024

Vic Pearson is an active and knowledgeable Buxton naturalist and longstanding BFC member, with a particular interest in our local ravens and peregrines. We are privileged to present here an ongoing series of extracts from his diary for 2024, written especially for the website. We shall present these in date order as they are received, with the latest at the top.

Vic’s Diary for 2022-23 can be found here.

April 2024: Easter eggs at Site A. Chicks by the end of April?

01/04

A misty day clearing late p.m. at Site A. Female Peregrine on the clifftop again. Male flew in as the Jackdaws made a fuss. Seemed to have a bloodstained bib, after hunting? Female wailing to no effect, he flew off, returning to lie down briefly on the ledge favoured lately. The nest site after all? Flew again, followed after a few minutes by the Female. Both showed up again on the clifftop after a while. Had they been hunting together? Ravens busy marshalling the Jackdaws away from their nest.

02/04

Pleasant sunshine at Site A as I was able to confirm the Peregrine nest site, as the indications are that incubation has started. On arrival the female was standing on the ledge, but by the time I was settled and had the camera out, she had moved across the quarry. The male was seen lying down on the nest scrape, may have been there all the time. Female began a continuous quiet wailing, so I paid close attention. Finally, the male flew across to the far side and retrieved prey from a cache under a small bush, the Female then flew to him and began feeding. The Male returning to continue incubating on the nest (below).

If all goes well, chicks should be hatching in a staggered manner over a period of about a week at the end of April/beginning of May. Last year they became visible on 20/05 when the brooding Peregrine moved slightly, and the vegetation on the nest ledge became trodden down. By this time, the young Ravens were seen out of the nest.

Female eating by the cache ledge under the shrub (below left). To add to the variety, a Stoat ran across the quarry floor and into its nest under a boulder. And spectacular moss on a ruined outbuilding glowed in the sunlight (below right).

 

04/04

Site A to install camera to monitor Stoat den. Female Peregrine just visible incubating eggs. Male Peregrine flew onto opposite cliff. Both still there when left. Ravens busy around nest cliff. Sweet Cicely showing along the verges, and Blackthorn blossom by the roadside. First lambs seen in Long Dale.

05/04

Primroses on the verge, as a brace of Grey (?) Partridge flew up and across the road. Peregrine visible on the clifftop, at Site A.

 

06/04

Windy and warm at site A, to see the female Peregrine incubating and the male Peregrine fly across the quarry to the opposite face where he could keep me under observation. Later, heavy rain, thunder, hail and gales as Storm Kathleen returns with a vengeance. How will the incubating bird fare on the exposed ledge?

07/04

Incubation proceeding as normal, is the answer! With more squally rain moving in, could just see the protruding wingtips of the Peregrine, well down on the scrape.

08/04

Calmer day. Site A: male Peregrine on clifftop monitoring the female on the nest. Chiff Chaff singing noisily.

11/04

A warmer less windy day to find the Site A female peregrine incubating low on the ledge with the male nearby on the cliff. As a Peregrine flew across the quarry, there may have been a rapid changeover on the eggs, as there was a bird visibly settling down (below). Jackdaws busily collecting nest material and taking it back to the cliff crevices. Ravens were flying off, carrying what may have been faecal sacs for disposal away from the nest. Saw similar activity at the Manifold site J where the Ravens were noisily mobbing a Buzzard and seen on the nest feeding young. White splashes of guano indicate that some of the young are now big enough to evacuate their droppings outside the nest. Plenty of Blackthorn blossom, Dandelions, Windflowers, and Wild Garlic. Sweet Cicely flowers just showing. Curlew heard. 

12/04

Raven young confirmed at Site A with at least one red gape seen but no clear white splashes outside the nest.  Adults flying in to feed, and patrolling the area to drive away Buzzards with loud warnings again. Can now clearly hear the young calling from a distance when hungry. Saw a Peregrine flying away, but one was incubating low minutes later, watching me carefully. May have been a rapid changeover. Redstart, Swallow seen. 

14/04

Sunny and cool at noon. Site A: Peregrine female flew up onto the ledge and settled onto eggs (below left). Peregrine male flew in as female wailed quietly, circled and landed on cliff top. Female left eggs and flew across the quarry to the opposite cliff. When I looked back, the male had left the clifftop was settling onto the eggs. A remarkably quiet and efficient changeover (below right). This is a well-coordinated pair.

The Raven young were calling from the nest, minutes later an adult bird flew in with food and silence reigned again.

15/04

Classic “lambing storm” during the “Whitethorn winter” with rain, hail and snow allied to cold wind. Limited to internet Peregrine watching, and discovered that in Wilmington, Delaware, U.S A. the pair have 5 eggs, most unusual. Even stranger is the fact that this is a new pair, and the old pair last year also had a clutch of 5, which failed owing to interrupted incubation when the old female was driven out. It is difficult for more than 4 eggs to be incubated properly at the best of times, as they cannot all be covered, especially by the smaller male.

16/04

Sunny and dry but squalls not far away. Sparrowhawk chased doggedly by Crow in the Dale. At Site A, relieved to see the Peregrine still incubating, and hear the Raven young calling. Both species are tough enough to live in Arctic/Subarctic lands, so the Peak District poses few problems.

17/04

Still a cold wind but sunny at least. Female Peregrine very low on the eggs, hardly visible. Male feeding on the clifftop nearby despite being buzzed by the occasional Jackdaw.

And a perky Wren landed within range.

18/04

Peregrine now hard to see behind grass on ledge, scope revealed movement at noon. No response earlier when Buzzard and Ravens flew over, and Jackdaws on ledge. Pied Wagtails, Red Campion. Hare running down the road near Flagg.

19/04

Late afternoon visit under calmer conditions at last. Female left the ledge where she had been out of sight for half an hour, settling near the clifftop and starting a subdued persistent wail, answered from the opposite cliff, then a male Peregrine flew into sight and landed further along the cliff. The female continued wailing and I was watching from concealment to see what the male would do. Despite my efforts, when I looked away briefly to the female, the male had moved to the nest without being seen and was incubating very low. The female was still wailing when I left. Ravens busily visiting their nest which is now showing plenty of droppings on the rocks below. Driving home I saw a Curlew’s fluttering landing in a roadside field where I saw the Hare yesterday.

Another small earthquake recorded near Belper! 

20/04

Another demonstration of the stealth skills of the Peregrine at breeding time. I arrived to find the female brooding eggs with no sign of the male on all the usual cliff haunts. Then he was there, out of nowhere, sitting quietly. After some time, he flew out of the quarry, so I determined to wait for his return. Which I failed to spot, because suddenly there he was on almost the same perch, no calls from either bird. I had a clear view of the cliff at all times, and still missed his arrival. Literally, blink and miss him. New flowers noticed on the way home, Garlic Mustard and Wild Cherry.

21/04

Sunny and warming a little at last, the ground drying a little.

Similar scene at site A, the female still incubating low and the male flying off fast to the west as I arrived. This time I was able to see him re-enter the quarry fast and low from the south, barely skimming the cliff before swooping up in classic style to land very close to yesterday’s perch. 3 Redstarts disputing territory in the quarry and a Curlew bubbling nearby. The familiar Wren seems to have a nest in the rubble pile where I took the recent photo. Barn Owl reported in quarry again, will watch out for it. 

23/04

Cold North wind persisting, Spring on hold. Late visit to Site A, stayed for an hour but very quiet with the Peregrine virtually invisible, huddled down on the nest ledge. Ravens visiting with food scraps. 4 Buzzards soaring in a compact formation over the dale. Possibly a week to go before the first Peregrine chick hatches, and a further 2 weeks before they become visible. The resident Jackdaws busily visiting their cliff crevice nests, one pair occupying a Rabbit hole. Roe Deer Hind on trailcam on 18/04.

25/04

Cold N wind. Sunny spells later at Site A. Peregrine on the clifftop swooped down to drive off a Jackdaw, then settled on the eggs to incubate, could only see her when her head lifted up briefly. Second Peregrine landed on the clifftop but no changeover seen. Meadow Saxifrage and Elm seeds in the Manifold Valley, young Ravens in the nest on Ossoms crag.

26/04

Cold and overcast at site A. Volunteer Peregrine monitors on site. Male Peregrine incubating low, female flew onto cliff with her full crop on display.

27/04

Overcast drizzly morning, clearing to sunny spells later, still cool and windy. Heard a Peregrine call as I arrived, may have just missed a changeover as I could see a Peregrine settling down, then no further movement. Raven marshalling the Jackdaws, then making an aggressive charge towards an intruding Buzzard.

28/04

Finally, a little milder with the wind in the West. Female Peregrine came in after a faint call was heard, and rapidly took over from the incubating male. Ravens visiting their nest quickly feeding young, then a Red Kite drifted over. with no reaction.

Police Wildlife Crime Unit dropped in to be briefed on the nesting situation.

30/04 

A warm day! All well at site A, the incubating bird only seen when changing position on the eggs. Ravens making brief visits at about half hourly intervals.

 

March 2024: Roe Deer and Fox in the quarry, and increasing activity at the nesting sites

03/03

After the shock of the last two days, a return to sunny weather and only a few traces of snow remaining. A relief to get back to Site A and the developing action there. A Raven was calling from near the new nest and a Male Peregrine a short distance away on the cliff top. Second Raven flew in and may have been on the nest out of sight for a while, then both left the quarry together, returning in a few minutes. Male Peregrine unmoved by this activity perhaps because the Female wasn’t around. Seemed to be lying down, literally keeping a low profile. Ravens very wary about going to the nest with me watching, so I did not overstay my welcome. Below, Raven pair monitoring the nest area.

04/03

Dry and bright again at Site A, Ravens heard from outside the quarry as they patrolled the cliff area. Peregrines soon heard interacting loudly with the Ravens who responded with calls of their own as the dogfight progressed, though with no blows being struck. The Peregrine male headed off, but could be seen circling in the distance, apparently waiting for the female to join him. The Raven female made several visits to the nest and spent some time methodically driving the Jackdaws away from the vicinity. Almost certainly defending eggs now. 

05/03

Manifold Valley site has new Raven nest very close to 2013 nest and looking much bigger. No sign of adults. Gorse flowers. At Site A, Raven female flew to nest, calling loudly, as male circled high above near a Buzzard. Peregrine seen briefly as it left the quarry. Otherwise quiet. A Sparrowhawk flew from a field wall near Wormhill, and more sticks were being carried to the Rookery at the end of Long Lane,

06/03

Peregrine female on the clifftop by the recent rockfall at Site A. Called briefly then sat quietly, no sign of the male. Female Raven flew from the nest corner and was joined by the male Raven at far end of the cliff from the Peregrine. 

09/03 to 18/03

Monitoring Urban Peregrines on webcams during bad weather and lack of transport.

Derby, Sheffield Urban Peregrines increasingly on the nest platforms with bonding displays and the males bringing prey in to the females. The females roosting overnight on the nest. Becoming broody. First egg at Derby on 17/03, Sheffield 18/03. Derby egg all white, will it be sterile like last year?

18/03

Sparrowhawk over Duke’s Drive as I risked a trip down the Manifold Valley with a failing starter motor. Rookeries everywhere active. Celandines showing. Manifold Valley Female Peregrine seen across the valley in an Ash tree near the nest crag. Raven flying off the huge new nest built next to last year’s.

19/03

Back at site A at last after car problems. Late afternoon visit revealed Peregrine pair sitting on their favourite cliff vantage points. A Raven eventually flew quietly from the nest tucked away out of direct line of sight behind a small buttress. Even on a small rock face they have an amazing instinct for concealment.  

21/03

Quarry site C. Before I arrived there had been a loud encounter between 2 male Peregrines with a female Peregrine the subject of the rivalry, reported by fellow birder. Raven had flown over with food so the female Raven is probably on eggs. Skylarks singing. Red Kite also in the area. Site A  had the Peregrine pair, one in a small tree, the other some distance away on the sloping cliff face. Both looking well fed.

22/03

Site A: Female Peregrine  flew off cliff calling loudly as I walked in, making a circuit and climbing high, as though to signal for the Male to return. Sure enough, he came flashing in with a big display, landing briefly on last year’s ledge, joining Female on another previously used ledge, the Female making scraping movements (see below). Then very brief mating on another cliff before calming down.

Male Raven then came in, calling the female Raven off the nest to drop off a food item which she took back to the nest.

Saw a Wheatear on the way back up Long Dale, and the usual Buzzards. So common now, but I was so excited to see one near Ballidon back in around 1985!

 

24/03

Sunny again after foul weather yesterday. Blackbird singing in the garden at 0500 hrs, loud and long.

Site A: Raven male came over to inspect me, then called Female off the nest for a food delivery on the clifftop. Peregrines on the sheltered sunny cliff totally ignored the Raven overhead, still no indication of this year’s nest site although today Female was adjacent to the ledge used for the last two years. Male a short distance away. Recent years egg laying started on 03 April, 05 April, and 15 April, maybe indicating a new Female in 2012/2013. There is a remarkable consistency in the dates of established pairs’ laying dates.

25/03

Derby Peregrine female now has 4 eggs and has started incubating seriously.

All the eggs are an aberrant pale form, not the usual Burgundy colour. Will they be viable? 

26/03

Site A Peregrines mated again, near the fresh rockfall scar. then Male flew to 2013 ledge and settled down, could there be eggs already? Female watching from the cliff as Male left the quarry, hunting?

Raven flew onto nest, then away. The Female may have remained.

Buff Tailed Bumble Bees droning around low, looking for nest sites.

Encouraging signs of Badger activity, fresh spoil outside a sett near Priestcliffe.

Also a Crow feeding on a roadkill Badger near Tunstead. So the Cull has not completely exterminated them (yet).

28/03

Out to a cold breezy site A. Female Peregrine on sloping face as distant Male heard calling, then flew in and circled quarry, checking me out. Landed in small tree then moved unseen, found it again near the top of the sloping face, with the sun behind him. Raven flew onto nest, leaving after a few minutes with a muffled croak, then returning to the nest. Peregrines indifferent, that could change when the eggs arrive.  

29/03

Arrived at Site A as the rain stopped. Female Peregrine called the Male in to deliver food on the clifftop, Male after first visiting an alternative nest site and failing to entice the Female down (below), went to the far end and the Female then flew to him and resumed eating. Seems the nest options are being kept open! Photo’d the Raven nest after the Female had flown off.

Butterbur in flower, good early nectar for the bees.

A Sparrowhawk female flashed across the road as I drove through Flagg, just before I took the above photo. Caught on trail camera: below – a Fox at night; a Roe Deer in the morning light.

30/03

At site A, the warmth of the sun now enough to dry the ground after the recent rain. Surprised to see a Stock Dove brazenly conducting courtship flights around the cliffs with its partner in full view of the female Peregrine watching from what I suspect to be the favoured breeding site for this year. Below right – Stock Dove trying a Peregrine ledge for size.

The Raven pair regularly flying to and from their nest, triggered the Peregrine into reacting quietly by leaving its perch for one on the clifftop. No dramas yet!

31/03

Hands numb again at a subdued Site A, although Bumble Bees still occasionally bumbling about, and distant call of a Curlew. No sign of Peregrines nesting yet, the Female came in quietly to its clifftop perch where she unconcernedly watched the Jackdaws circling within easy reach. Easier to wait for the Male to arrive with a food delivery? Especially as she must be full of eggs right now.

February 2024: Imbolc, the pagan season of renewal, the first hints of Spring.

01/02

Raven pair patrolled the cliff, calling loudly, and went away very close to me. Located Female Peregrine near the nest ledge. As I was taking a photograph, the Male Peregrine came in fast and low, and landed on the nest area, to the accompaniment of loud calls from the Female. Both remained quietly in position while I took several photos. The quarry Jackdaws watched from the cliffs.

Note the much bigger Female on the upper right. This is the first time I’ve witnessed interaction on the nest area this year, although the Derby and Sheffield Urban cameras have provided much evidence over the Winter months. The birds seem to accept my presence at a range of 100 metres as long as I move slowly and in full view, but it has taken years of regular visits to gain their confidence. Similarly with the Ravens.

02/02

After the excitement of yesterday, a blank day at Site A. Long Dale had 2 Ravens and a Buzzard taking turns to scavenge a roadkill Hare, with a Magpie standing by. A Kestrel had earlier flown up from the road, carrying a small prey item, possibly a Shrew.

03/02

Male Peregrine was flushed from unseen perch when I walked across the quarry floor, and made a feint at a Jackdaw as it left the quarry. Raven appeared, then a Buzzard. Sticks appearing on Raven ledge, a small loose pile, and Jackdaws visiting. The roadkill Hare seen yesterday has been completely removed, either by Fox or Buzzard. A Raven couldn’t carry it away.

05/02

Another grey, drab day, but at least another Peregrine seen, flushed quietly from unseen perch again. After being able to locate the birds easily, they have found a new hidden corner, only flying when I come too near, and heading out of the quarry directly. Distant Raven and Buzzard sightings in the Dale, the latter, like the Kestrels, using the strong wind to hang motionless instead of hovering. 

07/02

Cold and bright at Site A. Peregrine’s loud staccato call heard, and bird seen hundreds of feet above me, heading away slowly. May have been a display flight. Raven flew in to land on clifftop, after another Raven seen on a usual flight line, close to where the Peregrine was calling.

11/02

All roads clear but still some traces on minor roads and fields. At Site A, Raven pair displaying in front of the cliff, a leisurely undulating circular flight pattern. One landed on last year’s ledge, then flew off to return carrying a twig. Now a sizeable pile of sticks, not a proper nest yet.

A Buzzard briefly joined the Ravens, similar wingspan apparent. Returning along the Dale, a band of 4 Ravens came from the farm shelter belt, maybe looking to establish their own territories so they can breed. There is a vacant Buzzard nest nearby.

13/02

Site A, Ravens seen in quarry gliding around then leaving. One flying back in with a twig in its beak. After several blank days, a Peregrine finally seen again as it flew out past me as I walked in. 10 minutes later, its return was heralded by 30 plus Jackdaws erupting from the trees. as it came in fast and silent to land on the cliff.

15/02

Raven came in with a clod of turf in its beak, landed behind the cliff top. Peregrine flew onto cliff top (below), then away quickly. Later flew fast over the quarry but did not come in. Busy hunting? Very mild weather, small songbirds vocal.  Jackdaws lively and loud.

18/02

Frogs seen moving in garden pond.

Sunny at Site A after days of fog obscuring the cliff. Female Peregrine on clifftop, Male flew in and settled on possible alternative nest ledge. Female left when Raven pair visited with gruff warning calls, Male flew to another cliff then returned to ledge, before finally leaving the quarry on a different flight line to the Female. Four Buzzards wheeling over skyline plantation. Female Peregrine on clifftop, Male on possible alternative ledge partially hidden among plant stems, given away by white head markings. (below)

19/02

Site A, Male Peregrine flew in fast and low in front of cliff, found it eventually near ledge used yesterday. This was after Raven paid brief visit. On my return journey, saw a Peregrine flying away from quarry Site B into a stiff wind, using the full spread of its wings. Looking big, probably female.

20/02

Out earlier than usual to avoid the rain forecast for later. Had to wait for an hour at site A, then Raven pair put in a brief appearance, Later, Peregrine flew in downwind overhead, to clifftop. Left the way it came in, flying rapidly past after half an hour of grooming. A Fieldfare flock of 50 + birds came over, then 3 Buzzards in a tight formation.

21 /02 -22/02

Urban Peregrines at Derby and Sheffield increasingly on site throughout the day, with bonding displays. Derby Female hampered by injured leg, but is feeding well enough. Will it affect breeding success?  

23/02

Sunny and cold at Site A, before wintry showers moved in. Female Peregrine conspicuous on grassy plucking ledge, Male Peregrine on clifftop to the right. A Song Thrush was proclaiming from a small sapling behind me. Buzzard at the extreme top of a Larch in the hilltop plantation, looking out.

24/02

Site A , Peregrine on possible alternative ledge again. Raven pair calling in vicinity with a third Raven near, then two Buzzards.

26/02

Rooks seen carrying sticks to nests on Wormhill Road. Then in Long Dale I encountered a Red Kite feeding on a roadkill Hare, with 2 Ravens in attendance, along with a Buzzard, Magpies and Crows. Managed to get a picture through the car windshield. Kite below left, Raven warily standing back, below right.

Female Peregrine out of the Northern wind chill at Site A, back on a perch near the old nest site.

27/02

Not a trace remaining of the roadkill Hare from yesterday, very efficient scavenging. At site A, aggression increasing as breeding time nears and the hormones kick in! Within minutes of arrival, heard a Peregrine’s warning chatter, as the Male persistently dived on a Buzzard flying over. Both birds drifted away, then a Female Peregrine flashed in to land on the cliff face. The Male soon came back to land on the clifftop. Neither bird was disturbed by a helicopter hovering low over the quarry area in the course of a powerline check. Female nonchalant in the face of helicopter racket.    

28/02

Crow pair took off calling and left the quarry, followed by tight knit Jackdaw band. Then a grey blur as a Peregrine flew low across the quarry floor, swooping up to land on the same ledge as yesterday. Note the white streak on the rock giving away its regular use. Cold drizzle setting in as I left. Spring suddenly seems a long way off. 

29/02

Frogs croaking in garden pond!

More Peregrine and Raven interaction at Site A. When the Ravens flew in with nest material, the Peregrines were roused into action, diving on the Ravens with sustained attacks until they were driven to take shelter on an old nest ledge beneath an overhanging rock.  Peregrines remained near but calmed down enough to allow the Ravens onto the clifftop and eventually away from the aggravation. Ravens hiding on the ledge. Peregrine pair vigilant on the cliff.

Raven nest almost ready for egg laying. Smaller twigs braided into the top layer with larger sticks on the base, lined with sheep wool and clods of earth. Will the Peregrines attempt a takeover? Also found Snipe remains with evidence of chewed feathers indicating a Fox on the scene.

As I came away, a Red Kite was drifting over, while in Long Dale a Crow was chasing a Buzzard. A dramatic end to the month.

January 2024: Earthquake near Long Hill. Storm sequence continues. Floods.

According to Buxton Weather, last year was the third wettest since 1860, December being the second wettest December in that time.

01/Jan/2024

The usual Jackdaws around the cliff, but no Peregrine signs at Site C. Cold wind, dry and sunny.

At Site A, I was about to leave when a Male Peregrine carrying a white prey item flew onto the plucking ledge and began eating, unconcerned by the Jackdaws gathering in the trees nearby. A small hawthorn bush held 2 Blackbirds and 3 Fieldfares feeding on the haws. Two Buzzards near the plantation soaring and calling.

02/Jan

Storm Henk arrives!

03/01

Widespread flooding. Category 2.5 Earthquake recorded between Long Hill and Combs Moss.

04/01

At last the storm abates, as daylight extends. Sunny and calm at Site A. Male Peregrine called as it flew across the quarry floor, to land on the clifftop, above an old Raven nest site, calling repeatedly. Moved to other perches, then to the plucking ledge, staying until I left. Raven pair flew across to the skyline wood, calling. No Buzzards, but Fieldfare flock near Long Dale.

05/01

No Peregrines at Sites A and C.

06/01

Clear blue sky and a frosty morning. Site C big cliff face damaged by rockfalls, the big breeding ledges now both destroyed. Will the Peregrines take over the Raven nest, itself threatened by encroaching quarry waste tipping? No Peregrines today, but a solitary Raven flew over.

Site A produced a male Peregrine feeding on the clifftop. After a while, a female Peregrine landed by his side, causing him to take his prey further along the clifftop and continue eating undisturbed. As I left, the female flew to join the male and he seemed to yield his catch without any fuss, no calls heard.

(Earlier, the Derby cathedral male was eating a white feral pigeon on the platform when the female unceremoniously flew in and took it off him, flying away with it, and leaving him standing in a pile of feathers.)

07/01

Site A ,  no signs, so walked near the cliff to check the trail camera. Peregrine must have sneaked in when I walked back, as a last look back revealed a Peregrine perched just below the clifftop, with a full crop. Becoming stealthier as nesting time approaches, until vocalising begins and flight displays increase, often linked to intruding birds investigating the cliffs. The Ravens are usually in the vicinity keeping an eye on the quarry and the pair came by again today. 

08/01

Garden Buddleia has started putting out small shoots and Sycamore buds are swelling slightly. Roadside puddles frozen in Long Dale, with a Red Kite gliding low along the dale side, and 2 Buzzards soaring high above. 30+ Lapwings seen dropping onto a freshly ploughed field, on the return journey. 

Hand numbingly cold in the quarry, stayed long enough to locate the Peregrine pair some distance apart on the cliff, blending in with the rocks. (Male below.)

 

The Raven pair made their customary flyby, croaking loudly. No response from the Peregrines.

09/01

Bitterly cold wind again at Site A. Located Female Peregrine sitting in the sun, soon started calling very loudly in my direction. Within minutes the Male Peregrine came hurtling in, with a series of spectacular dives and climbs. then away out of the quarry. The Female followed when I moved nearer, using a tail wind to make a rapid exit. The first real display flight of the year? New Molehills appearing in the fields. Next month  will see Rooks nest building in the trees , and Hazel catkins appearing, to encourage us through the last days of Winter. The buds are swelling on Goat Willow shrubs in the quarry bottom.

13/01

After several grey nondescript days, a better day than expected, providing ideal lighting conditions to photograph an early flowering Stinking Hellebore by the roadside in Taddington village.       

 

At site A, the Raven pair put on a good display around the cliff, circling low and calling before slipping away. Encouraged by this, I persisted until I located a Peregrine on the sunny side of the quarry adjacent to last year’s nest ledge.

More Lapwings seen on nearby field.

14/01

Site A: Raven pair flew off with a subdued croak. Peregrine pair on opposite sides of the old nest site, facing into the sunny cliff in concealment mode. The Male hidden behind an elder bush. 

15/01

Cold and sunny at Site A with a grass frost in the shade. Female Peregrine on the same sunny ledge as yesterday, gave alarm call as 2 Buzzards floated high over the quarry. Male Peregrine on ledge nearby did not react, busily grooming his yellow feet. The birds bracketing the old nest site again. Red Kite in Long Dale gliding very slowly and hugging the ground, occasionally settling on the turf. A Buzzard soaring not far away. Ice on the ponds.

Male Peregrine above. Female Peregrine below.

17/01

Cold overnight, sunny. Red Kite in Long Dale again. No Peregrines or Ravens at Site A. Fox and rabbit tracks in the frost. Roe Deer seen on surveillance camera. Little Owl in cliff crevice.

18/01

Still a hard frost at Site A. Raven pair circling low near the previous nest site, joined by a Female Peregrine, which then settled on the clifftop (below), before making several loops around the cliff and continuing to hang around as I checked the trail camera settings. Many Buzzard sightings, often on the drystone walls in the dale. One seemingly interested in the old nest in the spinney there, making a close flyby.

 

Peregrine cheek patch standing out clearly in the sun as she was watching me.

19/01

Very cold. Site A, Male Peregrine floated over silently and away, as I installed second camera to cover quarry floor.  Raven pair came over from skyline plantation with a third Raven and kept going. Another Raven and a Buzzard together in Long Dale. 

21/01

Much milder as Storm Isha rolls in. All snow and frost gone at A. Unseen Peregrine flushed from the right hand cliff when I checked the nearby camera.

Did not leave the quarry, returning to the same cliff within seconds and adopting stealth mode, landed facing inwards. 

22/01-23/01

Storms Isha and Jocelyn hit with more severe gales and rain.

24/01

Storm Jocelyn easing slowly, after a very mild night back to windchill of 3 degrees C at Site A. No Peregrines but a Buzzard flew from a small tree sheltered from the wind and flew slowly around the quarry. Another seen in Long Dale. The usual Magpies around all the farmyards. Crows, Jackdaws and Rooks  in the fields. 

26/01

More gales last night, still windy at Site A at noon. Female Peregrine on” plucking ” ledge. Raven pair calling from hilltop wood, then following usual flight line past the quarry.

27/01

At last, a calmer day, still a noticeable wind chill though. Sparrow Hawk over Long Dale and Buzzards on fence posts, walls and in treetops. At Site A, Female Peregrine and Male Peregrine (below) utilising their Slate Blue back feathers to blend with the weathered limestone rock faces.

After preening, the Male flew nearer to the Female and perched in a tree. The

Raven pair had flown over low, calling, without eliciting any response from the Peregrines. I saw probably the same pair on my return journey a short while later, as they alighted on the brow of the Dale looking down into the valley.

30/01

Foggy, rainy conditions clearing, still a cold feel but some warmth in the sun now. Blackbird singing at Site A, willow buds swelling. Male Peregrine appeared on the clifftop and allowed me to approach almost as far as the foot of the cliff, then flew quietly out of the quarry, reappearing within minutes to its original position, seemingly eating something. Confirmed when it flew again carrying what remained of its prey. Raven pair then came in, landing on the clifftop, but did not stay long, after doing a circuit around the quarry.

Then a brief visit to the Manifold site, both Peregrines on the crag area. Hazel male catkins showing. Rooks appearing on their nests, although not building yet.

 

31/01

First Snowdrops seen. Hand numbingly cold at Site A with high winds returning. Female Peregrine on recently discovered new perch, facing away, looking at me over her shoulder. In the dale, Crows and Magpies feeding alongside the sheep, picking up items in the disturbed grass. Buzzards hanging in the steady wind with furled wings.