‘Moor’ rain needed if bogs are to be safeguarded?

According to a local weather site Doncaster Weather the local rainfall this year has been 257.2mm and the month’s 69.8mm with around 10mm falling today.  If the pattern is maintained then it looks like being a dry year, so not helpful in terms of the rewetting of Thorne & Hatfield Moors.  Perhaps we might see an increase in precipitation over the winter months?

Stunning stands of Calluna vulgaris, a plentiful end of season nectar source for bees as they prepare for winter.  Painted Lady were present on both Thorne & Hatfield Moors over the bank holiday weekend.  Image@ Martin Warne.

Stunning stands of Calluna vulgaris, a plentiful end of season nectar source for bees as they prepare for winter. Painted Lady were present on both Thorne & Hatfield Moors over the bank holiday weekend. Image@ Martin Warne.

There are two multi-million pound projects currently ‘restoring’ the sites.  Thorne Moors Water Level Management Plan, being implemented by Doncaster East Internal Drainage Board and the LIFE+ Project being delivered by Natural England.  One of the key outcomes of both projects is to safeguard the peat body in terms of its functioning as a carbon sink and its potential to continue sequestering carbon for future generations.  Both projects have the capacity to retain water on site rather than pump it off into the rivers and eventually out to the sea, similarly the rationale for the compartmentalisation across the sites was to facilitate easy movement of water to accommodate conservation management.  The WLMP clearly documents holding the water level at 10cm above the peat surface.  There are vast areas where this is clearly not the case, nor is the water even at the surface.

A recent visit to Hatfield Moors saw acres of desiccated sphagnum, and perhaps worse were the hundreds and more likely the thousands of seedling birch taking advantage of this situation.  Is this a consequence of the rainfall or is it because the management of the site has failed to address the associated risks of low rainfall and by ensuring that key areas are safeguarded?

150830 Des sphagnum hrk 721

Desiccated sphagnum mat being colonised by birch seedlings, also a presence of common cotton grass a species with a preference for wet conditions.

Desiccated sphagnum mat being colonised by birch seedlings, also a presence of common cotton grass a species with a preference for wet conditions.

The Neolithic trackway discovered in 2004 is perhaps a prime example of a lost opportunity, what still remains buried but will be lost if allowed to continuing drying out?  One might ponder a different outcome had it been found ‘down south’?

The ‘ghosts’ of a past practice now feature as sculptures across the barren peatscapes, others still resistent and thus more evidence that the mineral extraction in these areas was down to basal peat layers above the mineral.  Most of the economically viable peat had been taken from Thorne Moors and much of Hatfield Moors by the end of the 20th Century.

Reminders of a lost record now feature as natural sculptures amid a regenerating wetland.

Reminders of a lost record now feature as natural sculptures amid a regenerating wetland.

 

A pine's last stand?

A pine’s last stand?

Ten Acre Lake on Hatfield Moors, a post mineral extraction legacy was in its early years an excellent site for breeding waders including Common Sandpiper in 1996.  In July 1995 it was also host for about a week to a Long-tailed Duck.  It has since then become much more overgrown with dense birch and Crassula helmsii on the water magin.  This invasive species was first reported in the late 80s and is now widespread across the water bodies of Hatfield Moors.

Ten Acre Lake, Hatfield Moors.

Ten Acre Lake, Hatfield Moors.

Across on neighbouring Thorne Moors, nature’s annual cycle continued to unfold with this Drinker Moth below captured egg laying.  Drinker moth is common on both Thorne & Hatfield Moors and is often encountered as a larva as it crosses grassy tracks.  Drinker Moths lay their eggs on a variety of grasses including Cock’s-foot, Annual Meadow-grass, Couch-grass, Reed Canary-grass and Purple Moor-grass.

Euthrix potatoria 66.01 / 1640. Image: Martin Warne.

Euthrix potatoria 66.01 / 1640.
Image: Martin Warne.

 

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