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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.
Posted by Dave O
A fungal first for Dove Stone, sent to us by local naturalist and RSPB volunteer Ken Gartside, who found it while out and about with his grandson.
Found on a stump of Corsican pine, near a pond, this is the interestingly named Skeletocutis amorpha, and only the 476th UK record of this species (making it quite a rarity!). Leaving the stumps quite high when we are felling conifers, allows fungi like this to grow.
Thanks Ken & Travis - well spotted!
Other news - the helicopters flying above Dove Stone at the moment are helping with bog restoration, delivering stone and heather bales for gully blocking and sphagnum moss which is being planted by an amazing army of local volunteers and RSPB wardens Kate & Jon.
Spring is showing the first signs of springing(!) with frogs and frog spawn appearing in ponds and spillways, willow and hazel catkins emerging (providing a vital food supply for early queen bumblebees) and mountain hares beginning to change from white to mottled brown.
The resident peregrines are also showing the first signs of getting ready to mate - Mrs. P was keen on Sunday but Mr. P was being reluctant! Maybe the weather is still a little too chilly, though the Nottingham pair are already incubating.
Our next family event is Discovery Sunday on 29th March, 11 - 3 at Ashway Gap picnic area, but come up most Sundays and chat to volunteers or staff about the work going on at Dove Stone or to find out how you can help or get involved!
There is a full list of events on Dove Stone's webpage rspb.org.uk/dovestone
Posted by Miriam
We've had a few sightings of bramblings this week, also goldfinches feeding in the larches, a redpoll, reed bunting and a weasel. There were siskins around last week as well as a mistle thrush, a pair of great spotted woodpeckers, tree creeper, nuthatch and the usual selection of great tits, blue tits, coal tits, chaffinches, greenfinches, blackbirds and robins.
Stonechat, Brambling, Jays and Grouse seen daily from the new Celebration Wood near Ashway Gap. If you'd like more info about the wood and how to get involved please call Jacqui on 01457 819885.
Binn Green feeders full of Greenfinches, Goldfinches and Chaffinches as well as Nuthatch, and Great/Blue & Coal Tits. Thanks to Margaret, John and Alan for keeping these feeders filled up!
Kestrel, Buzzard and female Peregrine seen from Ashway Gap on Sunday despite the cold and snow showers!
Lots of activity at the Binn Green feeders with a Nuthatch, Tree Creeper, Great Spotted Woodpecker, Goldfinches, lots of Chaffinches, Blue, Great & Coal Tits, and a lone Brambling and Siskin. This week has seen the return of Greenfinches too.
On Sunday there was plenty of action to be viewed from our scopes at Ashway Gap. Visitors had the chance of close up views of hunting Kestrels, a Buzzard, a Sparrowhawk, and Ravens circling round the rocks.
It was all drama for our resident pair of Peregrines, which were perched on the quarry rocks for a while but were then seen flying above the quarry apparently chasing off a 3rd Peregrine, possibly one of the juvenile females from this year's brood?
We also got amazing views of a white Mountain Hare high up on the hillside above Ashway Gap. This was a large hare which could be seen with the naked eye (it almost looked like a lamb!), so the view through the scope was really clear!
Weather permitting we'll be at Ashway Gap with the scopes again this coming Sunday.
If anyone sees more than one Brambling or Siskin at a time please let us know! No further sightings of the Rough Legged Buzzard this week.
Most of the information and photos in this blog come from knowledgeable RSPB volunteer and local naturalist Ken Gartside...thanks Ken!
Good news - a lichen called 'reindeer moss' (work that one out!) has returned to the peat bogs above Dove Stone. This lichen has not previously been seen here and is an indicator of environmental improvements - both cleaner air following years of industrial pollution and the restoration work being carried out by RSPB staff and volunteers. It's name comes from the fact that it is eaten by reindeer in Lapland - so it should be safe enough here!
There have been a range of other new or rare sightings. For example a fungi called Arrhenia Peltigerina (see photo below) was spotted growing on dog lichen up on the bog, this is only the 3rd time this fungi has been recorded in the UK, so a real rarity!
Some of the rarer Dove Stone inhabitants are tiny and probably mainly go unnoticed, so thanks again to Ken for photos and id of a rare spider from the Agroeca species
On the practical side, sphagnum moss translocation has been continuing a pace on up on the bog. This vital restoration work is being carried out by RSPB Wardens and a team of dedicated volunteers.
It is nice to see bog rosemary, which was introduced to Dove Stone along with sphagnum moss from a site in Bowland, growing well this year too. It used to grow in this area so great that it is making a come-back. Despite looking similar to rosemary, bog rosemary is inedible and can cause nasty stomach upsets if eaten - so not one for the dinner table!
Autumn is a great time to see fungi around Dove Stone reservoir. Fly Ageric (with its red top and white spots) is always an impressive and colourful one to spot, but there are also lots of less common examples if you take time to explore and look closely, like the Splitgills pictured below the fly ageric .
This water cricket in a pool up on the bog is a sign of how mild the weather has been lately - Christmas is coming...pass me my lilo!
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.
Posted by Kate H
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!
A week last Sunday crossbills were spotted for the first time this year at Binn Green, by Dove Stone's stalwart Sunday volunteer John Parker. One of the 8 or 9 birds looked different - and Dove Stone had its first rare bird find! It is a male Two-Barred Crossbill - quite bright red, with two white wing bars, the second of which is really broad - a lovely looking bird. The accompanying Common Crossbills are fine looking too - this morning four Common Crossbills were with the Two-barred. They do range over quite a large area, but seem to return to the Larch trees at the Binn Green car park at least a couple of times a day.
Bird ringing at the feeding area was relatively quiet, but quality rather than quantity - after a few Chaffinches and Great Tits, a female Great-spotted Woodpecker and then a stunning male Brambling was ringed - it will be interesting to see if he returns in future years. And down around the main Dove Stone trail chiffchaff and willow warbler are now singing... who will hear the first cuckoo?
a brambling in the hand....
Grid reference: SE0103 (+2km)
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