To kick off last week, on Monday we held the first moth trapping session of the season down at Ashway Gap. Signs were against us to start the evening, winds were strong and some dodgy wiring threatened to cancel the fun. Luckily conditions improved and the first catch of the summer was pretty successful!
Highlights were definitely the lovely Small Elephant Hawkmoths, we caught six of these, which is the highest number for the site so far of this species.
A huge looking Fox Moth also graced us with its presence, females are the only ones who come out at night to light but look out for males on the moors flying in bright sunshine.
Other species we identified included:
2 Ruby Tiger
6 Common Swift
3 Common Carpet
2 Brown Silver Lines
Diamond Back Moth
3 Flames Shoulder
2 Silver Ground Carpet
Rivulet (new for the site)
It wasn't just the lepidoptera out and about though. Pipestrelle Bats were out in force enjoying the biblical proportions of midges attracted to the trap. We spotted a couple of Brown Hares running about the banks near the Ashway Gap spillway and a young buck Roe Deer was pottering about Pennyworth Wood.
Fingers crossed we get more warm dry evenings, as we hope to get the trap out a lot more this year and anyone who's interested can come along! Stayed tuned to our twitter and Website.
A glorious day at Dove Stone with prolonged views of the peregrines on offer. It was confirmed yesterday that the pair are raising 3 chicks which looked in very good condition, so we can hope for some increased activity over the next few weeks.
Other birds around Ashway Gap included a kestrel, pied wagtail (with young), grey wagtail, magpie, mistle thrush, meadow pipit, dipper and mallard.
There have also been reports of a ring ouzel in the Yeoman Hey area.
Also of note is the great progress by staff and volunteers on the new path through Pennyworth Wood.
It certainly has been a hectic couple of months at Dove Stone across all of the projects in order to get all of the on the ground work completed before the breeding bird season begins in earnest. In addition, we've also had some issues with wildfires and the wonderful news of our Natura 2016 award for Conservation. On the WREN funded Spreading the Moss project, in March alone, we managed to complete the following bits of work in time!
Installed 100 stone dam gully blocks
The terrible winter weather and helicopter maintenance delays meant that we had to wait all winter to get these block installed. The 150 loads of stone (approx.. 1/2 tonne each) were finally flown out and installed in the last week of April. The purpose of these are to block gullies in order increase water table, slow down water-flow and peat loss (including sediment washing down to the reservoirs).
These stone blocks are installed in more-heavily eroded gullies where the peat sides are exposed, to compliment these, we will soon be installing gully blocks with plastic piling at the head of these water systems to create pools where S. capilifolium can be planted.
6 hectares of heather cut
This work had been in the pipeline for 6 years, and with the increased risk in fires during these summer months (as we've seen with 3 fires already on the reserve in the last 6 weeks!), it was essential that this work was completed by the Natural England deadline in the second week of April. With the hard work of the Contractors, we managed to get all of the cuts completed, and the machinery removed with a day to spare, easy! In addition, and as importantly, the cutting also helps to increase plant diversity by increasing competition and creating areas for Sphagnum planting; we've now created a lot of space for planting Sphagnum in the next 2 years.
The heather was cut using a flail towed behind a Polaris, believe it or not, getting the machinery on to site proved harder that the cutting work!
Planted over 9000 handfuls of Sphagnum
As the above work went on, our dedicated team of Spreading the Moss volunteers were out in all weathers harvesting an planting Sphagnum and I would like to thank them all for their hard work in the past six months. This include all of our regular, individual volunteers who come week in and week out and the groups that come from various organisations, such as Price Waterhouse Coopers (Manchester Office) and Manchester University They have achieved to plant a phenomenal amount Sphagnum in what has been a terrible winter to work at 500 meters! THANK YOU!!!
And so the work goes on...it's a busy summer of breeding bird surveys and water vole surveys, and then roll on July after our beautiful Curlews, Dunlins and Golden plovers have hopefully had a successful season, the planting, gully blocking and heather cutting will continue throughout the autumn and winter. If you'd like to join us, please email email@example.com