Around and about at Dove Stone recently have been sightings of Fox moth caterpillars on the path up from Chew Brook.
The caterpillars have been in their early instar where they are yet to moult, which they'll do when basically they've grown too large for their skin. This could be the first of a number of moults. With the Fox moth there’s quite a difference between early instars and late instars with late instars looking totally different. Once in its final instar then this caterpillar will move on to the pupal stage of its life cycle.
The Fox moth’s ( Macrothylacia rubi ) preferred habitats are open woodland, moors and commons with caterpillars feeding on heather as well as feeding on bramble amongst other plants. Fox moths fly in May and June ; if you’ve seen one during the day then it’s probably a male ( although they do fly at night ) as the females tend to fly only at night. Caterpillars can be found from July to March / April.
If you're interested in moths then we have a moth trapping night on Friday 23rd September, meeting at Binn Green - full details on the events pages soon.
Elsewhere around Dove Stone there have been recent sightings of groups of seven or eight Red grouse which is good to see. If you're interested in reading debate around Red grouse management and Hen harriers then check out Mark Avery's blog http://markavery.info/blog/
Still with us for now are Swallows with adults still being seen feeding juveniles. They'll be starting their migration to South African over wintering grounds sometime next month flying via France, Spain, Morocco and either, for some, crossing the Sahara, or travelling down Africa's west coast. Amazing. More on Swallows here for those interested http://www.rspb.org.uk/wildlife/birdguide/name/s/swallow/migration.aspx
Also seen at Dove Stone recently have been Stonechat, two juvenile Kestrels, Raven, Wheatear, Curlew, Peregrine, Mistle thrush, Wren, Greenfinch and Goldfinch. Goldfinches are one to look out for as it won't be long now until there'll be large groups of Goldfinches along Chew Road feeding from the thistle seed heads.
More soon with a special feature on bats, particularly as it's International Year of the Bat and we do have another bat walk coming up soon . . .