The first outdoor meeting of the year began at The Riverside Gardens Belper. Located within the Derwent Valley Mills World Heritage Site and adjacent to Strutts North Mill it proved a worthwhile place to start.
The bird life was very quiet at first but the list of birds began spectacularly when a pair of peregrine falcons came soaring towards the pigeons perching on the mill. They were in no hurry to move, perhaps the pigeons realised that despite the grating scraa coming from the female the peregrines were not hungry.
After this exciting start we walked through the gardens and back along the promenade enjoying the beautiful flower beds and hanging baskets. A grey wagtail was enjoying the pond and black headed gulls the riverside.
We moved on over the river and down Wyver Lane enjoying the riverside gardens belonging to the local houses. We were fortunate to catch a glimpse of a kingfisher cutting across a garden from a pond to the river. As Wyver Lane changed from from housing into fields all seemed very quiet but Stuart was able to pinpoint several smaller birds.
We eventually reached the premier wetland reserve of the DWT. From the hide we were able to watch buzzards and note the very white front of a juvenile which has hints of an osprey. We carried on to the end of the lane where we were treated to a family of jays and a raven flying overhead.
We retraced our steps ending our visit in style. Whilst watching the feeders in one of the gardens a sparrow hawk lived up to its name as it came in swiftly to attack the the house sparrows. Coming from behind us it gave a spectacular acrobatic display.
Bird list – wood pigeon, feral pigeon, magpie, blackbird, mallard, house martin, swallow, peregrine falcons, moorhen, robin, grey wagtail, great tit, tufted duck, black headed gull, muscovy duck, mute swan, little grebe, chiffchaff, canada goose, carrion crow, greenfinch, jay, kingfisher, buzzard, heron, cormorant, teal, chaffinch, jackdaw, dunnock, greater spotted woodpecker, goldcrest, siskin, raven, pheasant, nuthatch, blue tit, goldfinch, wren, greylag, house sparrow, sparrow hawk.
by Veronica Wheeldon