Our first camping trip (since our inauguration at Chatsworth last year) took place this weekend, and what a fantastic time we had. Four friends and associated partners, kids and dogs set up home at Bank House Farm, Hulme End in the Manifold Valley. Located right next to the river on the flood plain, this little campsite was absolutely perfect for us. Plenty of space for the kids to play, a good set of facilities and very friendly, helpful site owner meant that we all had a throughly enjoyable weekend. And to top it off the birding wasn't too bad either. After pitching up Friday evening and enjoying a good catch-up, we put ourselves to bed, only to be duetted by a pair of the local Tawny Owls around 11pm.
Early morning dawn chorus included a Redstart, which turned out to be very showy the following day, and was one of several that we saw on a walk from camp downstream to Thor's Cave. The walk was full of spring, with warblers in full song, plenty of flowers in bloom and the sun shining well (considering the poor weather we had been promised!). The Peregrine put on a quick show for us, but the Dipper was missing this time. As you can see the kids loved hunting down some of the fossils found in the Carboniferous Limestones of the Manifold Valley. This spot held loads of Crinoids, corals and shells of various sorts.
The limestone is also the culprit for the phenomenom here. This is the state of the River Manifold (one of the major rivers in Derbys/Staffs). The river, during dry periods, falls through the cracks and gullies in the limestone, disappears completely from this stretch and resurfaces further downstream. When we visited earlier in the year the winter rains had kept the river above ground, but as you can see with the recent "drought" the river has retreated to calmer passages.
These flowers (which I think are Wood Anemones?) were carpeting all the wooded walk up to Thor's Cave, with patches growing elsewhere along the trail. This Ammonite was spotted inside Thor's Cave on a particularly slippy bit where clearly many people have trod before.
And finally, these two snippets of nature that were found during the weekend. Some sort of fungus coating a dead piece of wood used as a barrier at the campsite. I think it's a Trametes but would appreciate any wiser reader comments. And the same for this hoverfly. No doubt it's a common enough species but hoverflies are a new world for me that I enjoy dipping into every now and again.
The weekend was completed in style with a quick twitch over at Long Eaton after news of a Little Gull was received. After picking up a massive number of Swift and hirundines over Pastures Lane it was clear that a big hatch of insects had pulled in the gull. This site is virtually guaranteed to get them and also Arctic Tern at this time of year and today was no different. At least twenty Arctics were floating around the furthest lake and after following them into the corner the Little Gull was picked out. A cracking pair of birds, and to add to the evening's entertainment a Lesser Whitethroat led me on a merry dance up the lane until finally giving itself away. A Twenty-plume Moth was also spotted flying across the path. Four ticks and a lovely evening walk to top off a fabulous bank holiday weekend!