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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
Posted by Dave O
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
Posted by Miriam
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.
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
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
Grid reference: SE0103 (+2km)
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