Monday, 17 October 2016

Photo competition 2016 - 'Water in the Uplands'

We're very happy to announce that this year's Community Science photo competition is now open for entries.

The theme for entries this year is 'WATER IN THE UPLANDS'  - intended in part to draw attention to the wide-ranging positive effects of re-wetting blanket bogs. As ever you are free to interpret this theme as you see fit - using as much creativity and imagination as possible!

This year there are age-based categories for photographers to enter - 'Adults' or '15 and under', and we have kindly been donated some fantastic prizes:

The winner of the adults category will win this amazing HD nest box camera system worth £99 - donated by Gardenature.

The winner of the 15 and under category will win this (appropriately) waterproof camera worth £130 donated by Harrison Cameras.
The deadline for entries is 31st Dec 2016. For full details of how to enter, please see our webpage. Good luck!

Wednesday, 12 October 2016

A journey bee-yond bee-lief

Blog post by Tom Aspinall:

The morning after a long day of field work at the Roaches in the south-west Peak District it dawned on me that upon arriving home in Holmfirth, West Yorkshire the evening before, I had not unpacked my rucksack.

I got to work removing my lunch box and the tools I’d been using only to hear a very strange sound emanating from the bottom of my bag.

At first I thought it may be air escaping from my half-drunk flask of tea but removing that did not stop the noise. Deciding something must have made a temporary home in my bag I took it outside and with trepidation emptied the contents on to the ground. To my surprise out popped a beautiful, fresh-looking, queen, white-tailed bumblebee!

Having travelled nearly 40 miles in my bag the previous day I imagined the poor bee was hungry and as she seemed unable to fly I fed her up on some sugar water which she seemed to enjoy as you can see in the video below.


After she’d eaten I placed her on an open flower so that she could warm up and hopefully get some sweet nectar inside her. Unfortunately the weather had different ideas and the torrential downpour that followed forced me to move the lethargic insect to a sheltered spot underneath some winter heather.

Bumblebee on the step - close to death
The following afternoon I thought I should check on my garden guest. Disappointment followed as I found that she hadn’t moved an inch and didn’t look any more active than before. I again moved to her into the sun on the open cosmos flower so she could warm up and eat. She had other ideas and after a couple of hours I found her on the garden step looking close to death.

One final attempt to rejuvenate her was needed so with garden gloves on I lifted her up and put her on the flower head of a nearby lavender plant. 

She quickly started lapping up nectar from the tiny flowers and once all were exhausted her little legs were waving at me to help her to the next one. I repeated this several times and while her energy looked to be increasing she still didn’t seem able to fly.

With hope dwindling my partner then had the great idea of pulling the lavender flowers together and trapping them against one another to form a network of bridges so that I could have a rest and the bee could make her own way between the flowers. This was the move that made all the difference! 

Just a few minutes later, to our astonishment, the bee lifted into the air and buzzed away. Her four day ordeal and epic journey had not, as I had feared, been the end of her and I like to think she’s now found a safe hole nearby to hibernate for winter so that she can visit us again next spring.

Tuesday, 6 September 2016

Bleaklow timelapse sequence

These fixed point photos, taken over the last 13 years, show the return of vegetation to Hern Clough on Bleaklow, Derbyshire - one of the sites where Moors for the Future Partnership have carried out conservation works:
2003 - the site is largely bare peat and exposed mineral soil  
2005 - after initial treatment with heather brash, lime, seed and fertilizer the grass 'nurse crop' is in evidence. Note the empty brash bags awaiting removal.

2008 - repeat treatments have allowed the nurse crop to become established, knitting the peat surface together.

2010 - the nurse grasses have almost completely covered the bare peat, and there is evidence of other plants becoming established.

2013 - the area of exposed mineral soil is noticeably reduced and there are signs of dwarf shrubs like heather growing.

2016 - the dwarf shrub coverage has increased as can be seen by this heather in flower.
Watch a video of the re-vegetation so far...

Friday, 12 August 2016

From Black Hill to Green Hill

Guest blog post by Gordon Hallas
Alfred Wainwright wrote “Black Hill is well named”. What would he say today?
These photos were taken between 1976 and 2016, demonstrating the changes Black Hill has undergone, starting with this photo taken on a summer’s day in 1976.


Holme was warm but our 3 children thought the breeze on Black Hill was chilly. We had visited the Holme Peat Pit (beyond the end of Issues Road) and were on our way to the wreck of a crashed Sabre aircraft. As seen in the photo the bare peat was dry and dusty and the streams running off Holme Moss were dark brown.
In the following years we saw test areas where pine branches, to be superseded later by geotextiles, had been spread on the bare peat slopes in attempts to slow the erosion.
Another summer many years later in 2000 we saw the work continue. We sat, with 2 grandchildren, on Holme Moss watching the helicopter transporting flagstones. A path was being laid across the ever widening black morass of the track from Laddow Rocks.
In June 2003, the new flagstone path through the re-vegetated moor made the Saturday morning walk from Crowden easier but our now grown-up children were surprised at the appearance of the cairn built round the trig point. Now revealing its base, the depth of peat lost from Black Hill was clearly visible.

Just six years later in 2009, following the spraying of pelleted seed across the moor, Black Hill was a green lawn. ‘Desecration!’ said a scouting friend; he was more accepting of the change when the moorland grasses later took hold and the vegetation was as before the Industrial Revolution.
Last year from the summit of West Nab, we watched the helicopter spraying its pellets on Wessenden Moor, showing the work goes on.
This June we went with our younger son and his sons to look at the Swordfish plane wreck and then to the trig point at Black Hill, what a contrast!


Wednesday, 29 June 2016

Bumblee Survey - Edale Transect 1

Guest blog post by Community Science work experience student Izzy:
Today, I participated in the monthly bumblebee survey on Edale Transect 1. This transect is split into ten different sections, starting partially up the path (SK 12168 6552) that leads along Grindsbrook Clough at the north end of Edale, and continuing for just over a kilometre to SK 11438 87250.
The view along Grindsbrook Clough
The rules for the transect are relatively simple – you keep an eye out for any bumblebees that are within a two-metre radius from the centre of the path, and are less than four metres in front of you, forming a four-metre by four-metre ‘box’. Any bees that fly through the box are also valid, as long as they are under two metres from the ground. These measurements are to ensure that the survey is accurate every month, as surveyors will be looking for bees in the same places.  

You then need to keep a tally the different species of bees for each section of the transect.  This time, we saw a grand total of 59 bumblebees, of 5 different species – bilberry, heath, early, tree, and white-tailed.

Although the bees were very lethargic (perhaps because of the cloudy weather?), we saw twenty-four bilberry bumblebees, which was great; this species is one of the bees that Moors for the Future is focussing on, as they are good indicators for climate change.
A male bilberry bumblebee
Luckily, bilberry bumblebees are quite easy to spot once you know what you’re looking for – their distinctive fiery red tails stand out amongst the moorland plants.

These are a few other bee photos that I took during the transect:
Heath bumblebee
Heath bumblebee

White- or buff-tailed bumblebee

We saw a few bird species as well, including a grey wagtail, some stonechats, and a curlew!

Tuesday, 28 June 2016

Work experience with Community Science

Guest blog post by Community Science work experience student Izzy:

Hello, I’m Izzy, and this week I’m joining Moors for the Future’s Community Science Project for work experience . Since 2013, I’ve been really into wildlife and nature photography and have kept a photography blog (; I hope to photograph some of the species and landscape in and around Edale this week.

Here are a couple of common frogs in my family’s garden pond. By March, Britain’s ponds are alive with these famous amphibians, and, if you can get close enough, they’re rather photogenic!

Blue tits are another common species in British gardens, and are active all year round. I took this photo during the RSPB Big Garden Birdwatch last year, using a tripod and camera remote - most garden birds can be shy and are relatively  difficult to get close too.


The lynx, however, isn’t an animal that you’re likely to spot in your back garden. This elusive mammal became extinct in most parts of Western Europe after the destruction of habitats and thousands of years of persecution. The last of the British lynx disappeared around the year 700, although the Lynx UK Trust is currently doing research to reintroduce them to the British Isles. This lynx was seen at Nordens Ark in Sweden.

Here are a few more of my favourite photos:
Caterpillar in Sweden
Mute swan in the Somerset Levels

Thursday, 16 June 2016

What can a bird nest from 1934 tell us?

Twite nest from 1934
This bird nest is remarkable - it can tell us something fascinating about the history of the landscape from which it was taken.

It was built by a bird called a twite - a small finch which breeds on moorlands. Twite are now in serious decline - numbers have dropped by 90% since the 1990s. This is partly because of the loss of hay meadows which provide food - and the decrease in older heather stands for nesting.

The twite - Linaria flavirostris
The twite is almost unique - it is one of only two British bird species which feeds its young entirely on seeds - hence why hay meadows are so important for its breeding success.

What's so interesting about the nest in the photo? 

You may have noticed that it looks black in colour. This is not because it has deteriorated over the 80 years since it was collected - it was like this when it was taken from Saddleworth Moor in 1934.

The dark appearance is caused by a layer of greasy soot deposited from the atmosphere onto the grasses - from which the twite built its nest. This is an incredible window into the past - showing the widespread effects of pollution from the coal-burning heavy industries on the surrounding landscape - something which it is hard to imagine today.

It has been illegal to take the eggs of wild birds since 1954 - but egg collectors of the day reported that they would return from a day on the moor with their trousers blackened to the knee by this layer of soot.

Many thanks to Gallery Oldham for providing the photo and details of the nest - just one exhibit from their extensive natural history collection.

Visit the Gallery Oldham website or facebook page.