Now news broke yesterday of a Hooded Crow in Derbyshire near Uppertown, west of Chesterfield, just below Beeley Moor. This species is now a bit of a Derbyshire mega, the last being a fly through at Carsington in 2007, and before that single day or shorter birds. So this was the first twitchable one for a long time. Probably the first one the masses have seen certainly since the split? It was chucking it down yesterday all day and I could not drive up due to my foot still being injured so I had to wait and be gripped off by the photo’s some of the locals were tweeting out. Today dawned and we should have been at the football, but I couldn’t walk and Paul had a really bad cold and cough, so we elected to take the short drive up to the site instead. We arrived at the junction of Alicehead Road and Cullumbell Lane to find no cars in the layby near the junction and hardly any crows in the fields. Not a promising start. We decided we had better walk down the lane a bit so I gathered up my stuff and limped off. We noticed two birders watching a field a little way down the road, and through the binoculars a few Carrion Crows were feeding a field one back from the road, over a wall. Reaching them we soon found they were on the Hoodie and it showed fairly well for a couple of minutes before flying and dropping into a very reedy field where it was obscure among the vegetation. Typical, when you don’t want to be on your feet much we were going to have to wait. One of the chaps there was the finder of the bird and he was telling us he had taken 2 days to make sure of the ID so as to eliminate one of the hybrids with Carrion Crow that you sometimes come across.
Whilst we were waiting a pair of Stonechat were busying themselves feeding along the wall, dropping down into the grass and catching insects before flying back up.
Eventually the bird flew out again and we were able to watch it feeding a fair distance off.
The crow fields…
It certainly did have a thing for those reedy bits in that far field though as it kept disappearing into them for long periods. Finally just before we left the bird flew a little closer into the nearer field, but sadly the light had gone dull for photography.
Hooded Crows are very smart in my opinion, with their sharply demarcated shiny black and smooth grey areas. They have a certain character all of their own produced by their dapper two tone monochrome look. This particular individual looked a little smaller and slimmer than the Carrion Crows it was with. It’s difficult to say if this one is from one of the Scottish or Irish breeding populations or a visitor from Europe. I have always thought the distribution of Hooded Crow is rather odd in the UK being very much a north west (Scotland) and western bird (Ireland), leaving the rest of the UK, France and Spain as the Carrion Crows domain, before Hoodie takes over in Scandinavia and the rest of Europe.
Also in the area were Ravens, Jackdaws, Rooks and Carrion Crows along with Magpie, so we only needed Chough for a full house of UK breeding species… we might have been waiting a very long time till that one! Whilst we were standing around we also saw Kestrel and a party of 20 Redwing flew along the line of the road calling in their high pitched thin seeeeps. The odd Meadow Pipit was calling and a Wren was searching through the roadside bushes. After a while my foot could not take anymore and we left for home.
As we were turning into the road that leads towards our crescent I spotted a small group of birds flying up between two houses… I must have seen them for a second from the moving car but was prompted to say “Oooo They look like Waxwings!” we drove round the block and to my amazement we got back after a couple of minutes just as I was doubting because of the local starling flocks nipping over the estate, for Paul to say “birds in that tree” and to my surprise there were indeed 10 Waxwings. Amazing as we had seen none on our estate all winter and now here some were round the corner from our house. After about 2 minutes they flew off and away. A bit jammy!
Awful record shot snatched from in the car.