While many of the moorland birds, such as dunlin, golden plover and curlews have now left the hills, there is still plenty of diversity to be found around Dove Stone at the moment - and there are a number of new species for the site being discovered. Before we leave the birds, as we collate the breeding bird figures it is good to see that 43 pairs of dunlin were recorded out on the bog. This is up from 39 pairs last year. They are a difficult species to survey, and small changes are as likely to be within the parameters of chance, but still, positive to see, and an indicator of further habitat improvement. This is especially true of areas where heather bales have been dug in by the volunteer team that have been so effective in keeping the bog wetter. Back now to the wider wildlife update.....
Miriam reported on a fine colony of mining bees along the main trial earlier in the week, and Ken, local naturalist, following up the report, found a rarer bee, Epeolus cruciger, a klepto-parasitic species (ie, like the skuas with kittiwakes, it nicks the mining bees hard-earned food). Meanwhile, down at Ashway Gap, below the picnic area, a yellow-bellied bee caught the eye as something different - it turned out to be a leaf-cutter bee, with the excellent name Megachile centuncularis
Further afield on the Dove Stone site local volunteer Adrian found a real gem - Dark Green Fritillary - it was patrolling flower-rich rush pasture, rich in the caterpillar foodplant marsh violet - we hope this is a breeding colonization - there were further sighting over a week or so
As is often the case with wildlife, when you look for one thing, you find something else too - in this case a new healthy patch of sundew, and a longhorn beetle new to the area, Agapanthia villosovirdescens - apparently this species of longhorn beetle is spreading north in the Peak District - it lays its eggs in thistle stem.
Finally, we ran a moth trap at Binn Green last night with James along as moth epxert, and nice to see two of John's regular walk attendees joining us, Alison and Brian. Although the weather wasn't quite as good as the forecast, and slight drizzle turned to rain, it didn't put off the Antler Moths - at least 40 were counted, but I am sure there were many more - everywhere you looked... an Antler Moth. Among other species were two Orange Swifts, and as we packed up, James found a Beautiful Yellow Underwing - both new species for us.
A Beautiful Yellow Underwing pictured, a very dark individual, and tiny compared to its commoner Large Yellow Underwing cousins, of which there were a good few.
So, as the humid weather continues, worth watching out for moths, bees and other insect life. Reports for Dove Stone sightings gratefully received. Next thing to watch out for is a late summer butterfly boom...
With thanks to many local volunteers
While walking along the main path round Dove Stone the other day we came across hundreds of small bees flying in and out of little holes in the bank.
These turned out to be a type of mining bee, Common Colletes, (Latin name Colletes succinctus, which has a nice ring to it!). Thanks to Ken Gartside for the identification having posted it on https://www.facebook.com/groups/1590641777855221/
The following information on these neat, little bees mainly comes from an information sheet provided by a joint initiative between HYMETTUS and BWARS (see www.hymettus.org.uk and www.bwars.com).
The mining bee, Colletes succinctus, is one of the UK's most spectacular and attractive solitary bees. The term 'solitary' can be confusing, since these bees can live in huge colonies (just as the ones at Dove Stone do). The term 'solitary' refers to the fact that, unlike honey bees, they live as individuals rather like colonies of seabirds where many individuals congregate to breed in suitable places.
As their name suggests this type of bee nests underground, digging holes in south facing bare or thinly vegetated banks where they will get the warmth they need to be active and breed. There can be thousands of nests close together in one area. The females line the holes with heather pollen and then lay an egg in the hole. The larva will emerge as an adult a year later.
The Colletes is a little smaller than a honey bee with a rich brown thorax and clean white bands across its abdomen. Another difference is that these bees do not sting people! If you're up at Dove Stone, especially while the sun is shining take time to look out for these amazing bees as they are only really active for a few weeks in July and August.
(As you walk from Chew Brook towards Ashway Gap picnic area they are nesting on the right hand side of the main path, opposite the wildflower meadow, before you get to the conifer plantation on left, a little further along from the memorial bench to Woolly Wolstenholme, with the 'Alphin and Alderman look on' plaque on it).
Also look out for upland bilberry bumblebees (with a distinctive red bottom) and leaf cutter bees (small bees with a bright yellow underside). Both can be seen on thistles around Dove Stone at this time of year.
Colletes succinctus at Dove Stone
With thanks to Jamie and James, we ran a couple of moth traps up at Binn Green car park for a few hours earlier in the week. The bright lights of the traps lure the moths in, and once inside they have a rest on an eggbox for an hour or two, then released to continue their nighttime adventures. It was a good night, in that it didn't chuck it down, and despite a bit of a breeze we recorded more than 30 species of moth.
Highlight was an Elephant Hawkmoth (see below), which we have seen before at Binn Green, but always good to see. We had some other new species for our moth nights - the dull sounding but quite attractive Dot Moth, and the Blackneck, a moth with a very distinct... black neck
There were of course a few quite plain looking faded moths to bamboozle the moth identifiers. A few midges got down the shirt, but couldn't have been too bad - we're planning on another evening in a week or two...
If you are interesting in joining a moth evening, let us know.