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Recent sightings

  • 8 December 2014

    Dove Stone Weekly Update

    Stonechat, BramblingJays 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!










    Posted by Miriam

  • 1 December 2014

    Latest sightings at Dove Stone

    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.




    Posted by Miriam

  • 26 November 2014

    Reindeer Moss Returns to Dove Stone Bogs in time for Christmas!

    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 .

    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!

    Posted by Miriam

  • 27 May 2014

    Rare Butterfly doing well at Dove Stone

    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

    Posted by Kate H

  • 20 May 2014

    Stop and look closer!

    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 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!

    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!

    Posted by Miriam

  • 8 April 2014

    Crossbills are back at Binn Green - including a rare Scandinavian

    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....

    Posted by Dave O

  • 18 March 2014

    Frogs a-croaking, strange fungi, bat boxes and other Dove Stone news

    Lots of Spring activity at Dove Stone this week...

    Great spotted woodpeckers carrying nesting materials, as sure sign Spring is on the way, seen at Binn Green, along with 30+ siskins, a redpoll and the usual colourful chaffinches and tits.

    Meadow pipit and grey wagtails at Ashway Gap with ravens displaying overhead. The pintails and oystercatchers are still on Dovestone Reservoir along with a brief sighting of a cormorant.

    Thanks to our Monday volunteer Rich for this update!

    The pond in the woods below Binn Green is full of croaking frogs - Ken - another of our amazing volunteers spotted 24 on Sunday (thanks for this info and for the photo below!)

    For those who care to take a closer look, Ken also spotted an unusual fungus at Binn Green growing as a parasite on a lichen with the exotic name physcia tenella. The tiny fungus, with the even more unusual name marchandiomyces aurantiacus (I won't try and say that one!), was fruiting which is also rare to see.

    Something else worth a look are the really rather attractive new bat boxes, which have been installed by 2 regular volunteers, Jess and Stuart, on a tree at the bottom of the Binn Green steps. Hopefully these should attract some activity over the coming months, so watch this space (or even better, watch the boxes for signs of life!)

    That's it for now - more to follow soon!

    Posted by Miriam

  • 16 March 2014

    Stonechat, Meadow Pipit, Curlew....and Pintail!

    Spring arrivals are definitely making an appearance now, as well as a few unusual visitors passing a quick update of what's been seen at Dove Stone over the last week or so, starting with today and a beautiful Stonechat male and female, perched on the fence on the other side of the watercourse above Ashway Gap.


    Along with a Meadow Pipit heard, a Pied Wagtail in the watercourse below the bridge at Ashway Gap, and a Blackbird feeding from a suet feeder hung in a tree (unusual to see a Blackbird do this!), it's been a busy day! And that's even before mentioning that the Peregrines were both up today too! We'll be keeping a close eye on them to see how they get on over the next few weeks. They've already had a run-in with the Ravens! Also seen at Ashway Gap recently was a Treecreeper - nice to see one here as well as at Binn Green - and today we saw a very vocal and brightly coloured male Chaffinch, along with Robin, Great Tit, Blue Tit and Coal Tit. A big thank you goes out too to the families who helped fill the suet feeders today, good fun and the birds appreciate it!

    At Binn Green we're still seeing the Brambling - yesterday I saw 3 males and 2 females and we saw some again today, along with Siskin, and some really stunning-looking Lesser Redpoll - if you don't see them at the feeders then have a look in the Spruce trees next to the viewpoint.

    And yesterday two male Great Spotted Woodpeckers were there too, one on the peanut feeder and the other drumming on a nearby nestbox! The Mistlethrush is singing every day, as well as the Dunnock and others - great to hear.

    Down at the main car park we had a great view on Friday of 3 Curlew flying over the back field - it's such a beautiful sound, I love it, and a real sign of Spring, along with the disappearance of the Redwing and Fieldfare that we've seen there recently. 

    Also on Friday I was lucky enough to get a photo through the scope of the Oystercatchers mating - what beautiful birds they are!


    But to top it all we had a first for Dove Stone - Pintail! We've never had a record of them here before, and there they were - two handsome males and two females, along with two male Tufted Ducks! By saturday they had gone of course, off to their breeding grounds no doubt, but great to see here albeit briefly. My blurry shot of them doesn't do them justice so here's a really nice library photo of a male and female Pintail instead. Thanks to the guy who mentioned they were there when he saw me at Binn Green! 

    So a great week at Dove Stone, and I must say I'll miss it....keep enjoying this fantastic place!


    Posted by Mandy

  • 6 March 2014

    While Spring is springing...

    With the current mild weather there are lots of signs that Spring is springing - lets hope we don't get a sudden cold spell to confuse everyone!

    Yesterday the wardens saw their first curlew and lapwing of the season up on the bog and also heard a skylark calling high above.

    A pair of ravens were circling with aerial acrobatics above the rocks and there is plenty of oystercatcher Spring-time activity on the reservoir! From the main car park we've seen a large flock of redwing, fieldfare, jay, goldfinch, greenfinch, pied wagtail, jackdaws and blue,coal and great tits. A woodpecker was drumming away in the background and mistle thrush heard singing in the fields. Mountain hare are still visible with a telescope or binoculars as their coats are still patchy white and stand out against the gritstone.

    At Binn Green the feeders have been alive with greenfnches, goldfinches, chaffinches and brambling as well as redpoll, nuthatch and mistle thrush.

    The peregrines have been spotted above Ashway Gap soaring high on the thermals, a dipper has been seen on the edge of the watercourse and unusually there have been a few sightings of a treecreeper which we haven't often seen in this area.

    There are also water crickets to be seen in the pools around Chew Brook.

    Thanks to Ken - one of our volunteers and local naturalist, for the following fascinating Spring snippets and photos (as well as the water cricket photo above!):

    Its a great time to watch out for dunnocks in your own garden, as they flutter around like mad to attract a mate. These little birds are a pretty, velvety grey-brown and have a lovely song as they pair up.


     Its also an important time for flowering trees like the willow, which provide a vital food source for early insects like bumblebees and hoverflies. There are some of these coming into flower in the wood beside the picnic area at Ashway Gap - the flowers are just soft, furry buds at the moment but will become beautiful yellow flowers like the ones below.

    As well as willow, look out for tiny hazel flowers which develop into hazelnuts and larch flowers (below) which develop into cones. Again these are grogeous to look at and great for birds like siskin (male pictured below) which we see at lot at Binn Green.

     Trees make wonderful overwintering sites for some insects like these harlequin ladybirds who shelter under the bark and in crannies.


    If you can want to help early season wildlife in your garden try planting something like mahonia or even gorse which seems to flower all year and provides a great source of food for all sorts of insects. You can also have a look at the RSPB website for lots of tips and ideas



     Happy planting, happy watching, happy Spring!

    Posted by Miriam

Your sightings

Grid reference: SE0103 (+2km)

Dipper (1)
25 Jan 2015
Seen in suitable nesting habitat
Grey Wagtail (1)
24 Jan 2015
Short-eared Owl (2)
24 Jan 2015
Great Spotted Woodpecker (1)
25 Jan 2015
Seen in suitable nesting habitat
Raven (1)
25 Jan 2015
Seen in suitable nesting habitat

Contact us

  • Tel: 01457 819880

Where is it?

  • Lat/lng: 53.529355,-1.981482
  • Postcode: OL3 7NE
  • Grid reference: SE013036
  • Nearest town: Mossley, Greater Manchester
  • County: Greater Manchester
  • Country: England

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