Dusky in Derbyshire

Having been able to change a medical appointment at short notice I was able to accept an invitation for a trip up to Beeley to try for the sometimes elusive Dusky Thrush. Ian picked me up at the respectable time of five thirty and we headed North. A nice change for me to be in the left-hand seat. After an uneventful drive we arrived in the delightful village of Beeley in the Derbyshire Dales, unusually for me an area I am not familiar with. The small Orchard that the bird visits was easily found due to a small crowd of early-birders who had arrived earlier that us. We spent the next thirty minutes or so watching numerous Blackbirds and a few Fieldfare feasting on fallen apples. The Dusky has been associating with Redwing of which none were to be seen. Also seen were a couple of Nuthatches, Great Spotted Woodpecker, Chaffinch, Robin and four species of Tit. Additional entertainment was provided by a dry-stone waller who was surely not used to having an audience of birders whilst he was working. We were joined by Rob, a friend of Ian and between us we decided it would be best if we headed up to the fields above the village to find the Redwing flock(s). Walking along Pig Lane we soon found Redwings feeding in a field containing Shetland Ponies. A good scan confirmed they were all Redwing with no exotic cousin amongst them. We then spent the next three hours or so tracking various flocks of Redwings around. They were reasonably flighty, probably due to the presence in the area of  a Sparrowhawk. At one point the bird was found on the ground but before we could get on it properly the flock flew up into the trees.The next few minutes were spent getting possible unsatisfactory views as the bird moved around in the trees. Four Ravens passed overhead as did a Buzzard. Several Canada Geese flew up from a distant flooded field. The flocks then all moved out of sight so we decided to head for the The Old Smithy Gallery Cafe and Bistro for a warming drink. After some lovely bowls of Broccoli and Stilton soup and a couple of Luxury Hot Chocolates between us we headed back out. The sky had cleared and it was now sunny as we walked back along Pig Lane. As we were scoping a small group of Redwing another birder informed us that the Dusky was showing well a little further up the lane. We were soon getting great views of the bird as it fed out in a field, interestingly not straying as far from the hedgerow as were the Redwing. We were able to watch it for a good few minutes although it and most of the other birds disappeared back into the hedgerow on a couple of occasions. We then decided to head homewards arriving back after another good journey around twelve hours after leaving. In all twenty-eight species were noted and the Dusky Thrush was my thirteenth new species of the year. I should as many others have thank the residents of Beeley for their friendliness and tolerance of the invasion of birders to their small village.

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