Here's an update from last week from the volunteer work parties. Thanks go to John for highlighting the good work as well as some of the issues that arise at Dove Stone...
' Friday 1st Jess, Ian G., and I worked with Kate and Jon at Binn Green. Today we finished digging out the foundations around the feeder and then put the remaining edging board in and placed an edging board across the end of the trench. We laid a weed suppressant fabric on the base of the foundation trench and pinned it to the edging boards with u-nails to prevent it from folding over when we fill the trench in. Then we began the really hard part, filling the trench wih aggregate topped of with a layer of white chippings. We filled the foundation trench to a depth about two thirds of the way up the edge boards with around four tonnes of aggregate. We then used a vibrating plate machine which weighs 50kg to settle and compact the aggregate. Once the aggregate was flattened we topped it off to ground level with a layer of small, angular white chippings and ran the vibrating plate machine over that. The chippings had no dust or sand in them and so the compacted surface did not bind to form a hard surface and so is not suitable for use yet. We need to get some sand, spread it across the surface of the chippings and hire the compacting machine again, we hope this will produce the desired surface.
The weather was cloudy with sunny intervals and good working temperatures. After we had finished on the path, some of us went down to look at the pond we created last year at Binn Green. The water still hasn't cleared but there were lots of insects skating across it and lots of tadpoles swimming up to the surface and back down into the depths. The plants round the side have done well, especially the Flag iris, Bogbean, Water mint and Marsh marigold. On the way to the pond we saw Crossbill feeding in the Larch.
Wednesday 6th was another busy day continuing repairs to the dry stone wall above the "Life for a Life" plantation. Five volunteers and one RSPB Dove Stone warden rebuilt more of the collapsed wall and added the coping stones to finish off some of the rebuilt sections. We made good progress, but there is some left to do. We saw a Raven fly over us being mobbed by initially about a dozen Crows, the Raven was ignoring them until most of the aggressors gave up the chase, leaving only three. As soon as the Raven noticed that it had better odds on its tormentors it repeatedly swooped at them until they too flew away.
We saw a number of dog attacks on sheep, very bad, people were either running ineffectually after their dog or just not bothering to control the dog's behaviour at all. A passing couple told us that they had witnessed a Staffordshire bull terrier type dog bite a sheep in the face, we were told that the owner chased after his dog and kicked it until it let go of the sheep. The dog's owner then ran off back to his car and exited the site at speed. As if out of control dogs wasn’t enough, we saw a child chasing some clearly distressed sheep whilst the child’s accompanying adults did nothing to restrain it. Hopefully the changes we are implementing to make Dove Stone a better place for its resident animals and visitors will reduce this kind of behaviour. We are increasingly receiving comments on how Dove Stone looks much more “looked after” than it has done previously. Whilst working on the wall we found a toad hiding in one of the spaces between the stones, we moved it along to a part of the wall we had already repaired.
Friday 8th was another day on the wall for four volunteers and one Dove Stone warden. We found yet another toad in a space between the stones in the wall, it must be a good hiding place for toads! As with the one we found on Wednesday it was relocated to a part of the wall that we had already completed. We dug out a pit into which one of the stone gateposts will be installed, this took a lot of digging as several times we encountered very large stones which had to be removed by breaking them up with a wrecking bar. This was very hard work as the bar, which is made of steel and is over a metre long, is heavy and we needed to lift it repeatedly and drive it down hard onto the stone. We tried to move the gatepost from where it is lying to the hole (a distance of about thirty metres), but our initial attempt convinced us that we didn’t have the equipment needed. As we couldn't fit the gatepost today we back filled the hole with large loose stones which will be easy to remove when we come to fit the post. We did this to prevent animals and people from falling into the hole as it is around a metre deep and it would have been particularly dangerous if we had left it and it filled with water. We also pulled down the redundant old fence which had been installed some distance back from the wall. The fence will not be required when we complete work in the area, and already it looks much better without it. The weather was pretty bad, it rained most of the time with some very heavy bursts interspersed with lighter rain '.
For anyone who's interested in getting involved in volunteer work parties at Dove Stone please contact one of our wardens: email@example.com or firstname.lastname@example.org
Here's an update from last week from the volunteer work parties. Thanks go to John for highlighting the good work as well as some of the issues that arise in open access areas for livestock and tenant farmers.
Thanks John ! If your interested in getting involved in volunteer work parties at Dove Stone please contact one of our wardens: email@example.com or firstname.lastname@example.org
And for anyone interested in more info on responsible, safe and enjoyable dog walking at Dove Stone please come and talk to us at the RSPB information point at the top of the main carpark, Thursday to Sunday and pick up one of our 'Reservoir Dogs' leaflets. More soon...
Saturday gave us fantastic aerial displays of the Peregrines with both the male and the female going into some breathtaking stoops. There was also some dramatic tumbling and fighting between Ravens and the Peregrines above the ridge along from Dove Stone rocks.
Interestingly the Ravens were checking out a previous nesting site in the same area as the Peregrine’s site last year. We’ll see what happens and whether the Ravens nest further down in the lower quarry as they did last year.
‘ Nuts about Nest Boxes ’ day was a success with lots of people stopping to have a go at making their own nestbox. If you missed us on Saturday don’t worry as you can find a plan for making a nestbox here: http://www.rspb.org.uk/advice/helpingbirds/nestboxes/ smallbirds/making.aspx . There’s also plenty of info on these pages such as where best to put your nest box and how to look after both it and, hopefully, its residents ! They really are very simple and quick to make and such a valuable thing to do for the birds visiting your garden – be quick though as now really is the time to get them up. Important conservation work at Dove Stone in recent months has been the planting of native broadleaf trees as part of developing Dove Stone’s woodland vision. These will provide good nesting habitat in the future for a range of species. For the more immediate future we’ll also be installing some nest boxes in various locations around Dove Stone.
Elsewhere around Dove Stone there have been recent sightings of Kestrel seen from the Chew access road, Dipper along Chew Brook and Skylark up near Chew Reservoir with Golden plover on the peat bog. Curlew and Meadow pippit have also been both heard and seen recently. Curlew will be returning to upland areas after having moved south and west for the winter. In the UK this would be to areas such as the Ribble. This winter there is a possibility that Curlew and Golden Plover might have moved even further due to it being particularly cold. In comparison, movements of birds such as Dunlin wouldn’t have been affected by the severity of the winter as Dunlin moves as far as Africa whilst Golden plover and Curlew won’t travel as far as this, typically going only as far as areas such as Iberia.
Our feeding station at Binn Green continues to attract Siskin, Treecreeper, Nuthatch and Goldfinch amongst other regulars such as Coal, Great and Blue tit. Mistle thrushes are also around.
Also worth mentioning at this time of the year are Mountain hares. Still being in their white winter coat for now means that they’re highly visible. By the end of March they’ll largely been in their brown summer coat and a little harder to spot. On a walk up the Chew access road up to Chew Reservoir earlier in the week we counted at least fourteen Mountain hare either side of the path and got some quite close up views of hares amongst the rocks.
Many thanks to those who came along to Dove Stone’s first Mountain hare talk and walk and thank you to Sam Bolton from The Brown Hare Project. If you’re interested in hares then it’s worth checking out Sam’s site on www.merseysidebiobank.org.uk/BrownHare/default.aspx?content=home.xml. The Brown Hare Project’s site also gives info about how to report any sightings of Brown hares and how you can get involved in surveying either Brown or Mountain hare. We will be having another Mountain hare walk later in the year when these lovely animals are back in their white winter coat. Another link for more info is http://www.hare-preservation-trust.co.uk/mountain.html.
There’s been some spectacular mornings and evenings at Dove Stone over the last few days, particularly with the early morning light and the reflections in the reservoirs whilst the water is at its stillest.
From Binn Green there have been recent sightings of Bullfinch, Brambling, Siskin, Goldfinch and Redpoll. A Crossbill has also been seen recently around Binn Green.
Walking down from Binn Green Cottages access road I watched two Long tailed tits nestbuilding. Walk past quickly and you’d easily miss it.
Long tailed tit nests are really an amazing construction – a ball of moss, spiders' webs, lichen, feathers ( particularly for lining the nest ), and hair, typically built in the fork of a tree or bush.
Both the male and female birds build the nest and that can take about three weeks, although if it’s later in the season less time is spent on the nest
Elsewhere around Dove Stone you might hear Woodpeckers drumming.
Drumming acts a bit like song and lets rival woodpeckers know who's around. To amplify the sound of the drum woodpeckers will chose a rotten, hollow branch or trunk. If you do hear drumming then it's likely that it's a Great spotted woodpecker as Green woodpeckers tend to make their yaffle call. Lesser spotted woodpeckers are scarcer and are now categorised as a red list species due to a decline of over 70% between the mid-70s and late 90s. Reasons for the decline are as yet unknown and the RSPB are currently working on a project to investigate this.
I read recently that Woodpeckers have a specifically shaped hinge between the skull and the beak that's combined with a muscle. This acts like a shock absorber and protects the bird from damage to the brain.
If you're up at Dove Stone Binn Green is a good place to look out for Great spotted woodpeckers, as is Ashway Gap.
Continuing round Dove Stone, there have been Jays in Bill o' Jacks and a Cormorant fishing on Yeoman Hey reservoir. Further on I watched a Coal tit preening on a low branch after bathing. On the other side of the reservoir in one of the streams there were several pairs of frogs and lots of frog spawn.
Grey wagtails are about too and Lapwings have been seen flying over the Isle of Sky road.
The Peregrines are regularly being seen at the moment. I saw two catching early morning thermals, circling over one of the ridges at Dove Stone before flying out of sight. Later in the week I watched them at dusk on the crag. A Buzzard has been heard calling recently and earlier in the week seen being mobbed by the Peregrines. On another day from Ashway Gap I watched one of the Peregrines sitting on the crag and could clearly see where the bird had brought in a recent kill.
Elsewhere around Dove Stone if you’re walking over the bog you might notice new growth of Cotton grass. Look out for a dead pretty lichen, Cladonia diversa.
Thanks to Ken for this photo and more on Lichen in another post sometime…
Still on the moors, you might hear the distinctive quickening and descending song of the Meadow pipit or the cronk of a Raven.
Red grouse are about too, churring before making off with their rapid wing-beat-and-glide style of flying.
Curlew are also around. Mountain hares are still to be seen in their white coats, although with noticeably larger areas of brown.
Bog beacon's an uncommon fungi but you can find it at Dove Stone.
Appropriately named, small and matchstick-like, you'll find it in boggy areas on leaf litter and pine needles. Now is the best time.
Many thanks to Dave Winnard from Manchester Mushrooms for the great photo. More soon...