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In the following years we saw test areas where pine branches, to be superseded later by geotextiles, had been spread on the bare peat slopes in attempts to slow the erosion.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 (www.frozennature.wordpress.com); 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
 
Honeybee
 
 

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.

Monday, 6 June 2016

Wildlife photos from Crisis event - part 2

Last Friday was the second 'Creative Conservation' Community Science event with Crisis members from Sheffield. Member Steve Smith has shared this set of cracking wildlife shots he took on the day:
One of the highlights of the day was a close encounter with this roe buck near Longshaw estate

Another shot, as the roe deer makes a hasty exit...

A beautiful reed bunting seen singing in a patch of soft rush
Just one of the hundreds of millipedes all making their way along the path in Burbage Valley


A stunning meadow pipit; in a classic pose!


 

Monday, 9 May 2016

Wildlife photos from Community Science walk with Crisis members

Last Friday was the inaugural 'Creative Conservation' Community Science event with Crisis members from Sheffield -  consisting of a guided wildlife walk around the Millstone Edge and Padley Gorge area led by the Community Science team and Tom from the National Park Ranger Service, followed by an introduction to Community Science (and lunch stop) at Brunt's Barn near Grindleford.
Peacock butterfly (c) Steve Smith


Crisis member and photographer Steve took some pictures of some of the wildlife which was spotted, including the Community Science target species the Peacock Butterfly (above) - seen and recorded just below Millstone Edge.

A northern hairy wood ant nest (c) Steve Smith
Some of the other species also seen/heard and talked about were: orange-tip butterfly; early, white-tailed and tree bumblebees; willow warbler, chiffchaff, redstart, pied flycatcher, meadow and tree pipits, stonechat, buzzard, great spotted woodpecker, northern hairy wood ants, bluebells, lesser celandine, wood sorrel and birch polypore fungus (also known as razor strop) and red kite.

Female pied flycatcher (c) Steve Smith
Red kite (c) Steve Smith
Thanks to Steve for sending in these great photos, and also to everyone else involved for making it a very enjoyable day.

Wednesday, 20 April 2016

Surveying bumblebees - Sheffield University Conservation Volunteers

Guest post by Amruta Tendolkar (Sheffield University Conservation Volunteers)  http://sheffuniconservation.wix.com/sucv



As a sequel to the Sphagnum moss workshop that we did with the Moors for the Future, 15 of us headed to Longshaw Estate on Saturday to learn how to identify and survey bumblebees.


SUCV looking for bees!


Loss of flowers for foraging, loss of suitable nest sites and use of pesticides have led to the rapid decline of many bumblebee species in Britain. Bumblebees are better pollinators than most other species of bees because they can travel up to 2km from their nests in search of flowers and their tongues are much varied in length. Hence, it is essential to save them.

Studying bumblebee specimens before heading out


For this reason, Moors for the Future has initiated surveys to note down the abundance of bumblebees around moorland. They have chosen three species which are easy to identify and will be interesting to track in response to climate change. The morning session gave us pointers to identify these three bumblebee species and a few others commonly found in the area.In the afternoon, we took a walk around Longshaw Estate in search of some bees. 
 
Bumblebee survey materials

Since it is quite early for them to come out of hibernation, we could spot only two. However, the weather was sunny and everyone had a great time!


SUCV taking a well earned break at the end of the day
Thanks to everyone who came for the workshop and a big thank you to Tom, for conducting it.