Looks like a positive outcome for the Buzzard with the government u-turn on the proposed control of this bird of prey - for now.
There's been plenty written and blogged about this elsewhere but just wanted to throw in two links to Mark Avery's blog www.markavery.info/blog and to John Armitage's blog www.birdingodyssey.blogspot.co.uk - worth reading for their opinions of Richard Benyon and for what's been happening with the Walshaw Moor Estate.
Let's finish for now with a reminder of how awesome Buzzards are...
Recent sightings from Dove Stone this week include three Crossbills up at Binn Green this morning as well as a Spotted Flycatcher seen up at Binn Green yesterday. Regular sightings around the Binn Green feeders of Great Spotted Woodpecker, Mistle Thrush, Jays, Goldfinches, Greenfinches, Treecreeper andCoal, Great and Blue Tits.
Some of these birds can also be seen around the main reservoir trail where there have also been reports of Blackcap, Cuckoo, Reed Bunting, Stonechat, Wheatear, Meadow Pipits, Chiffchaff and Willow Warbler.
For some interesting info on Willow Warblers and this species north-south split take a look at this BTO article http://www.bto.org/about-birds/bird-of-month/willow-warbler?dm_i=IG4,S1JI,563LHR,29XIP,1
Good sightings of a Peregrine this morning and a Woodpigeon who made a lucky escape - thanks to DaveO for that one. And excitingly also seen from Ashway Gap was a Red Kite. On the Bog Bodge guided walk last weekend we had sightings of Golden Plover, Dunlin, Red Grouse, Curlew, Skylark and Meadow Pipits - thanks to Kate and John for those sightings. Also up round Chew Reservoir have been sightings of Little Ringed Plover and Common Sandpipers. Look out for Common Sandpipers around Yeoman Hey and Greenfield Reservoirs too.
Also a few butterflies around this week with Small Heath, Green Veined White, Dingy Skipper, Small White, Small Tortoiseshell and Peacocks all seen in various parts of the estate.
The first Cuckoo of the year returning to Dove Stone, probably from sub-Saharan overwintering grounds, was heard on May 4th. This will be the male giving the 'cuckoo' call. Since then we've heard regular calling from around the plantations behind Bradbury's Farm; yesterday was our first sighting however below Whimberry Rocks where a Cuckoo was seen being mobbed by Meadow Pipits - thanks once more to Jamie for news of this sighting. If you're up at Dove Stone and see Jamie around stop and say hello and he'll be happy to talk with you about what's out and about at any given time.
So, a bit more about the Common Cuckoo, cuculus canorus, family cuculidae and in particular a closer look at what may be going on with our Cuckoo and those Meadow Pipits right here at Dove Stone. Breeding for the Cuckoo starts around the end of this month. Obviously the Common Cuckoo is a brood parasite and the Meadow Pipit is one of its host species. Parasitic Cuckoos specialise in a particular host ( other common host species are Dunnock, Robin and Reed Warbler ) with the females being divided into groups according to their favoured host species, with some evidence to show that cuckoos differ genetically from each other according to which group that they belong to. Interestingly, the Common Cuckoo does have a resemblance to the Sparrowhawk - particularly in flight and with the barring on the underside; this mimicry can alarm potential hosts and give the female a greater chance to access a host's nest.
With Meadow Pipits as host species Cuckoos will be laying eggs that closely resemble the eggs of the pipits. That's not always the case as other species of cuckoo will lay eggs that are, for example, dark whilst their hosts' eggs will be light and this will hide the egg from the host, particularly those cuckoos that parasitize hosts with dark, domed nests. Smart.
The shells of the eggs of brood parasites will be usually thick with two distinct layers. The outer, chalky layer is thought to provide resistance to cracking when the eggs are dropped in the host nest. Other features that may give cuckoos a further advantage is that the cuckoo egg hatches earlier than the host's, followed by the well documented behaviour - going back to Edward Jenner in the late 18th century - of the Cuckoo chick removing the remaining host eggs from the nest.
Cuckoos apart, elsewhere around Dove Stone there have been recent sightings of Curlew - showing well, Wheatear, Willow Warbler, Peregrine, Red Grouse, Common Sandpipers, Kestrel and Swallows. Also one to lookout for that's been seen recently at Dove Stone is Redstart. Reports of Bullfinch up at Binn Green as well as our regular birds including Mistle Thrush, Jay, Greenfinch, Goldfinch, Coal, Blue, Great and Long Tailed Tits.
Don't forget the Bog-Bodge guided walk this Sunday starting at 10am from the main carpark - full details on the events page. More soon...
We've just had one of our woodland art walks ( courtesy of the good folk at the local Woodend Artists collective ) where we follow a trail through Dove Stone's woods, collecting a small number of leaves from a number of trees such as Sycamore, Alder, Birch, Rowan & Oak ( as an aside, apparently oaks can support 400+ species of invertebrates - amazing ), to name just a few of the broadleaf trees at Dove Stone. From these we then go on to make extraordinary leaf prints. What's good about the art walks is that they lend themselves to looking at and learning more about some of the trees that we have at Dove Stone up close, in detail and in a way that you might not ordinarily do. From a print you really get to see just how intricate leaves really are.
For anyone interested in seeing more of these beautiful prints take a look at some of Jacqui's work here : http://www.jacquisymons.co.uk/Gallery%20Printmaking.html
Woodland management is just one part of the habitat enrichment work at Dove Stone that goes on and we're going to be having regular postings soon on this and other habitat work undertaken by our wardens and their crew of hardworking vols. It's not all sitting around eating cake from what I hear !
Back to the walks. We''ll be having another Woodland Art Leaf Print Walk on Saturday June 16th. If you'd like to come along then check out our events listings page for details. This week however it's the return of the guided Bog Bodge. We do like a good bodge about on the bog. Taking a route up the side of Chew Brook we'll be heading up to Chew Res before going over to Featherbed Moss. On the way we'll be looking out for Dipper and Grey Wagtail, Wheatear, Meadow Pipit, Reed Bunting, Stonechat, Raven, Common Sandpiper, Red Grouse, Mountain Hare and Golden Plover to name just a few regulars to be seen at Dove Stone. The blanket bog is a fascinating habitat with its bog pools and Cotton Grass and plants such as the carniverous insect-eating Sundew. This walk is really about finding out a bit more about blanket bogs and why they're so important. It's also a chance for us to talk a little bit about the work we're doing to protect these places and the remarkable wildlife that they support. So. It all starts at 10am on this Sunday from the main carpark. Here's the bit you really need to know though: sturdy walking boots, warm clothes and waterproofs. Seriously. It's quite a strenuous route too. Full details on the events pages.
Elsewhere around Dove Stone this week there have been good sightings of our regular woodland birds up at Binn Green with Jays, Mistle Thrush, Willow Warblers, Treecreeper as well as Coal, Great and Blue Tits and some incredibly bright looking Greenfinches - worth taking a look through some bins at.
More soon, including an update on what's happening with the Peregrines...
Emperor moths Saturnia pavonia are stunningly beautiful and it was great to hear that one had been found at Dove Stone over the weekend - thanks to Jamie for that. Emperors inhabit a range of habitats but are most often associated with heathland and moorland so Dove Stone is an area with the right habitat. That said, although widespread Emperors aren't common.
Male emperors are day flying with the larger, slightly greyer but no less spectacular females flying at night. Day flying males will be looking for females; the females have a pheromone gland at the end of their abdomen and this gives off a scent to attract male Emperors who have a feathery antennae that they use to detect these pheromones. It's thought the males are able to detect the pheromones from several kilometres away - amazing !
And if you're at Dove Stone over the next few weeks we hope that we'll be able to show people Emperor moths in person - if you see our resident moth specialist, Jamie, treading the paths around Dove Stone then say hello - he'd be happy to tell you more ! And on the subject of moth trapping our next night-time moth trapping drop in is on Friday June 22nd followed by a Saturday moth-morning on June 23rd. Full details on our events pages. More on this soon...