It’s an exciting time at Dove Stone, as a public consultation on proposals for a small visitor centre is set to begin this month.
Feedback from thousands of people responding to our consultations and surveys over the last five years has highlighted the need for a centre and improved facilities on the site. In response to this we have now created plans for a small visitor hub.
As a family-friendly site, the proposed visitor hub will enable all ages to discover more about Dove Stone, engage with RSPB staff and take part in a variety of activities; providing a fantastic experience for existing visitors.
In response to visitor needs, the proposed hub will include new toilets, a catering kiosk and shelter for visitors, ensuring people can enjoy Dove Stone in all weathers. There will also be space for community use and education activities.
The preferred location for the visitor hub, which will include office space for our staff, volunteers and a Peak District National Park Authority ranger, is adjacent to the Dove Stone Sailing Club. The sailing club currently leases this area of land and we are in detailed discussions with them. Sailing will always continue on the site as part of any proposal.
As a small, welcoming building, which would fit in with the existing surroundings, the proposed visitor hub is not intended to attract more people to the site, but enhance the visits of those who currently come to Dove Stone – whatever the weather.
The proposed visitor hub will also create many more volunteering opportunities for members of the community and profits made in the hub will be used to maintain and improve Dove Stone for visitors and wildlife.
We have worked closely with United Utilities, Dove Stone Sailing Club and the Peak District National Park Authority throughout the process of developing the proposals.
We’re now asking members of the public to share their thoughts. Please have a look at the concept drawings and plans below.
To read the Frequently Asked Questions, please click on the document link at the end of this post.
You can tell us your views by responding to an online questionnaire at https://www.surveymonkey.com/s/RSPBDovestonebuilding
For more information and a chance to fill in a hard copy of the questionnaire, there will be also be drop-in sessions at the RSPB office in Uppermill on Tuesday 15 July, from 3-8 pm and on Monday 11 August, from 3-8 pm and onsite at Dove Stone on Sunday 29 June and Wednesday 30 July, both from 11-4 pm.
The Green Hairstreak, a rare and declining upland butterfly and Bilberry specialist, may be increasing at Dove Stone because of RSPB and United Utilities' management over the past few years!
Converting the woodlands from conifer to broadleaved trees has allowed light into the area and the bilberry has responded brilliantly - we have several records of Green Hairstreak butterfly (and bilberry bumblebee - another rare and declining upland specialist!) in our woodland areas this year already. Removing the sheep and reducing the grazing in our upland areas has also allowed the Bilberry to respond and we have Green Hairstreak records from here as well. Our grasslands are becoming richer in wildflowers as well, and this will help butterflies of all kinds. Look out for them this summer and see if you can identify any!
As well as making the area better for wildlife, we are also making the area better for people: you will see this at Ashway Gap especially, where we have planted lots of wildflowers, planted an orchard, installed acess freindly picnic benches, habitat sculptures and natural play equipment. We will be creating a new pond in the picnic area in the next few weeks so that everyone, regardless of ability, can be surrounded by wildlife!
Our Reserves Manager Roy Taylor has recently been diagnosed with Motor Neurone Disease. As a result of this, he is doing a disability audit of all the Northern England RSPB reserves and fundraising to improve access to them for people with disabilities. If you want to sponsor Roy in his epic 215mile wheelchair challenge, please go to http://uk.virginmoneygiving.com/Roy215miles.
Most of the information and the photos for this blog were kindly provided by Ken Gartside - a local naturalist and one of our regular & valued volunteers.
Never mind the birds for once...how about a look at some of Dove Stone's smaller residents?
Might not be everyone's cup of tea but the aptly named Yellow Dung Fly is about most of the year, and their eggs are now starting to show on - yep - sheep poo! They show up as very tiny little yellowy white wings sticking up – most of the egg is in the poo, but these wings show above as they are apparently the fly's respiratory organs.
The male is yellow and female a more greeny colour. They breed for most of the year if it's warm enough as they only live for a few weeks.
The males are very aggressive to each other, defending territory and partners, just as birds do. Ken's photo shows two males at Dove Stone entangled in a scrap – eventually the dominant one won and had a 'wash' – wouldn't think they'd bother on poo would you?
Hoverflies (not to be mistaken for bees or wasps!) are appearing and are prospecting for muddy places with organic matter. They are also attracted to Rowan flowers which are coming out around the site - have a look near Ashway Gap picnic area next time you're out.
There is a great blog about Stoneflies written by Trainee Ecologist Genevieve Dalley up on the Scottish reserves with information and photos also supplied by Ken - worth a read as we have Stoneflies at Dove Stone too! http://www.rspb.org.uk/community/ourwork/b/scotland/archive/2014/05/09/through-the-looking-glass.aspx
Spring flowers are out too with yellow cowslips and pinky white cuckoo flowers (great for orange tip butterflies) doing well in the meadow near Ashway Gap. There is also plenty of Bilberry coming out where woodland management work has been done. Bilberry is an important species not least because it attracts rare green hairstreak butterflies and Bilberry bumblebees.
The interesting looking Bog Beacon is now in full flow, and can be seen at three sites above Bradbury Lane – worth keeping an eye out in other woods above Dove Stone now we can get at them – look in very wet places, but not running water.
And it's not only the time for lambs - another tiny Dove Stone dweller - the Water Crickets - have already had babies!
That's it for now - more soon - maybe we'll have some peregrine chick news very shortly!