Posts Tagged ‘nightjar’

Birds & beetles: updates on research @Thorne & Hatfield Moors

February 21, 2017

We recently posted advance notification about the Forum’s Annual Meeting on Friday 31 March 2017.  We are delighted to provide the titles of the two talks by researchers currently working on Thorne & Hatfield Moors SSSI.

“Dynamic habitat selection of the European Nightjar from a Thorne & Hatfield Moors perspective”  Lucy Ryan (University of York).

“Gimme shelter: Role of refugia and impact of restoration on insect conservation on Thorne Moor”  Ashley Buchan (University of Edinburgh).

Lucy’s talk in 2016 was very well received and in no small part down to the enthusiastic and informative delivery by a researcher clearly passionate about her subject.  This year will see her providing us with an update on her research which will continue through the 2017 season and also involve the 2018 season.

nightjar-chicks-ringed-280616-web

Nightjar chicks: fantastically camouflaged and not easy to spot when they remain motionless to avoid predation.

Ashley is looking at invertebrates and the succession assemblages across a host of areas ranging from parts of Thorne Moors which saw peat extraction cease in the 1950s through to the early 2000s when the Government of the day bought out the extant planning permissions from Scotts (UK) Ltd for some £17.3m  Ashley’s work has involved looking at characteristic species of particular habitats and how these habitats change over time.  This work along with Lucy’s will hopefully inform management planning for these important sites.

The talks, which are scheduled to take place after the formal business (Forum members only), are open to the public but places do need to be booked, contact the execsec@thmcf.org to register an interest.  There is no charge for the talks but a donation in lieu for refreshments and light buffet lunch will be used towards the purchase of more research equipment (particularly the tags needed to track the nightjars activity).

Copies of the two recently produced faunas Checklist of the Lepidoptera of Thorne Moors 1837 – 2014 and The water beetles of Yorkshire will be available for purchase along with other Forum publications.

Who started the drainage?

February 24, 2016

Common Lizard Crowle Moor 24.2.16

Adders on Thorne and Hatfield Moors on 10 February, now Common Lizard has been ‘turned over’ on Crowle Moors.  Image: Phil Lee.

Advance notification of some events for your diaries?

Thorne & Hatfield Moors Conservation Forum’s Annual Meeting

Friday 1 April 2015

Indoor presentations on recent research work followed by a visit to Thorne Moors in the afternoon.

“Bog birds and bugs” by Lucy Ryan (York University) a masters student working on monitoring of the nightjar populations at Thorne and Hatfield Moors SSSI further to the implementation of the LIFE+ Project* managements works.

Dr Paul Buckland “Who started the drainage?  Iron Age & Roman Landscapes in the Humberhead Levels”.

Anyone interested in attending the above presentations, which are open to the public should contact the execsec@thmcf.org

*Please note that the Forum is not aware of any monitoring work ongoing or planned which will look at the impact of the implementation of the Thorne Moors Water Level Management Plan by Doncaster East IDB and its management service providers JBA Consulting

WILDLIFE TRAINING WORKSHOP

20 May 2016  An introduction to  Auchenorrhyncha identification.

We are delighted to welcome back Jim Flanagan who will be the tutor for the second of our ‘bugs / hoppers’ identification workshops.  Places are limited and are rapidly being filled.  The first part will be an introduction to the Auchenorrhyncha  (leafhoppers, planthoppers, froghoppers, treehoppers & cicadas), the second part will involve a field trip and then a microscope session.  More details are available from execsec@thmcf.org

RAPTOR CONFERENCE

9 & 10 September 2016  Raptors, Uplands & Peatlands: Conservation, Land Management & Issues promises to be an excellent couple of days of presentations and a site visit.

This event is being organised by BaLHRI / BRG UKEconet and will be held at Sheffield Showroom & Workstation and further details are available via www.ukeconet.org and as a pdf

Raptors First Call November 2016 flier

The booking form can also be downloaded here and includes ‘early bird’ booking discounts.

Raptors booking form 9-10 Sept 2016 (ebd)

Hoverflies & floods ….

May 17, 2015

Readers may have heard of Pan Species Listing, it’s basically ‘twitching’ across disciplines.  That’s an incredibly simplistic analogy because there is much to recommend it if it is undertaken within the guidelines promoted through the Pan Species Listing website.

We try to encourage readers and the public in general to take a closer look at the wildlife around them and as well as appreciating the amazing diversity available on our own doorsteps to learn to identify it.  Occasionally we offer Wildlife Training Workshops with specialist tutors to introduce people to new disciplines, especially entomology or the more difficult botanical disciplines (grasses, sedges & rushes), bryology, lichens or mycology.

So it is pleasing to periodically report interesting finds.  Phil Lee the voluntary LWT – Isle of Axholme Group Wildlife Records Officer has an uncanny knack of being in the right place at the right time ….

Sericomyia lappona Crowle Moors pl 8.5.15

Friday 8 May saw him ‘sauntering’ along the boundary lane of Crowle Moor north where he came across a couple of hoverflies new to him.  Reference to Britain’s Hoverflies An introduction to the hoverflies of Britain by Stuart Ball and Roger Morris led Phil to conclude that the species above was Sericomya lappona and this was subsequently confirmed by John Flynn through the lincs_ento_group.  S.lappona has previously been recorded from Crowle Moors in 1988, by Bill Hoff and Roger Key but no other Lincolnshire records apparently.  The other, below, is a Pipiza but can not not be determined to species level even with the excellent image taken by Phil.

Pipiza sp. Crowle Moors pl 8.5.15

The moral of the story as ever, is to be open minded and take an interest in the common and then when something a little different appears it is likely to register as having potential for an interesting record.  There is plenty of help out there avialable from like-minded people and a veritable plethora of societies and organisations focusing on wildlife and natural history.
Those records are needed, they evidence species movement (increase or reduction in range) and the health of sites.  It would seem reasonable to assume that the various statutory agencies and authorities undertake survey and monitoring but increasingly it seems to fall to the amateur naturalists to gather raw data.  The theory then would be that the Public Bodies use the data as evidence in defence of sites under threat of development?  Theories and reality, sadly all too often at the opposite ends of a spectrum?
Another issue which warrants investigation is perhaps the future of Local Records Centres?  That for Doncaster is based within DMBC, yet the vast majority of data held there has been provided by amateur naturalists.  That for northern Lincolnshire and Lincolnshire in general is held and managed by the Greater Lincolnshire Nature Partnership, so arms -length from statute and retaining a level of independence?  The issue as ever, information is power but information is also valuable creating something of a dilemma when it comes to sustainability?
Also around in moderate numbers are Yellow Wagtails as they seek out food for their brood of youngsters.  This stunning image showing a parent bird with a substantive meal – is it a noctuid larva?  Thanks to Martin Warne for sharing this behavioural image.
Yellow Wagtail Thorne Moor 27042015
For readers seeking their annual fix of our iconic crepuscular gem the Nighjar, they arrived on the same day 13 May on both moors, although perhaps the one logged at 04:15am on Thorne Moors was the first recorded for the year?
Advance notification:

Friday 31 July 2015

‘The Flood Untamed.’

Jeremy Purseglove revisits the story of his classic book which is being re-issued in June.

150324 TtF front cover 2

Anyone interested in attending this presentation (which will also feature two other talks) please contact execsec@thmcf.org for more details.

Migration Massacre on Malta …. an update

May 4, 2014

Well, let’s hope that it’s been a busy time I guess for the MEPs who had conservation minded constituents contact them after they’d been suitably motivated by Chris Packham’s video diaries posted via his website.  He also asks that we Tweet our MPs and ask them to attend the debate in Parliament this Wednesday 7 May ….

The House of Commons will debate “UK policy on protection of migratory birds in Malta” on Wednesday 7 May in Westminster Hall, 4.30 – 5.00pm.

Malta

OK, so we don’t all Tweet  – in which case then email them or phone their constuituency offices.  If they ask what this has to do with us then think of that Nightjar being released, will it make it back to the UK and possibly Thorne or Hatfield Moors?

Mark Avery too has joined Packham and is also encouraging his readers to take up the issue, he also (quite rightly in my opinion) reminds readers on a regular basis about the fact that Hen Harriers, Red Kites and other birds of prey are being shot and poisoned in this country still.  2013 was the first year since 1960 that Hen Harrier had failed to rear a chick in this country!  Astonishing given the amount of funds spent on HLS on privately owned upland grouse moors?

MEP update

I wrote to the six Yorkshire and Humber MEPs via ‘write to them’ website on 25 April.  So far I have received email replies from Rebecca Taylor, Timothy Kirkhope and Edward McMillan-Scott and a letter from Linda McAvan.  Nothing, as yet, from Andrew Brons or Godfrey Bloom.  All are fairly similar but I suppose to some extent that is inevitable and they seem to mirror those received by other MEPs across the country as reported by readers on Mark Avery’s website.  What I do find somewhat disappointing is that when they were replied to, with specific questions, typical of many a politician, the reply evaded the actual point I raised or directly asked!

If you are interested in reading the series so far received then we have set up a new page on the website blog “CAMPAIGN: Malta Massacre on Migration” and they can be found there.  Any new correspondence received relating to the Malta saga will also be placed there.

If you’ve been motivated to contact MEPs then feed back the responses to Packham, Avery or through us at athe Forum.  Critical mass as elections loom for MEPs in May and a for those 650 still in the Westminster village.  Let’s send them all a message that the natural environment and conservation really do matter.

In the interim, please TWEET (!) your MPs if you are able to ….

 

National NATURE Reserves set to become the new ‘country parks’?

November 16, 2013

Recently we have had a few more signatures on our 38 degree petition STOP & RETHINK National Nature Reserves as Open Access areas.

Why I wonder?  I’d hope that it’s consequential of common sense prevailing as well as a mixture of astonishment and disbelief or perhaps even anger and naive expectation that a Government agency would act in an open and transparent manner by demonstrating best practice as well as legislative compliance.  Sadly, neither expectation has been in evidence, in fact quite the reverse.

Have any of you out there heard about Nature Conservation Assessments?  Setting aside the lack of science or any evidence, nor involvement with a wider expertise beyond internal staff, they appear to be a new approach to assessing ‘Likely Significant Effect’ on the interest features of a Natura 2000 site.  At the risk of being accused of scepticism they seem instead to be a way to side step Habitats Directive legislative compliance (Article 6(3)).  We are told that these documents exist for all the 83 NNRs proposed for Dedication as Open Access under the Countryside and Rights of Way Act. 

See JNCC website on the Habitats Directive.  The guidance is extensive on plans and projects which might impact on Natura 2000 sites.  See particularly Assessment of plans and projects significantly affecting Natura 2000 sites.  Methodological guidance on the provisions of Article 6(3) and (4) of the Habitats Directive 92/43/EEC.  Perhaps from an NE perspective, it is easier to re-write the rules and who could blame them?

So, what might that mean for the sensitive habitats and species out there?  What might it mean for the public who visit for the quite enjoyment of the tranquil landscape or to experience the magic of wilderness and wildlife?

Car Park 115aDSC_0003

Car park requirement, litter bins (mmh, they are either full to overflowing or not used at all in my experience), lots of colourful expensive ‘interpretation’ boards (target practice for air gun or rifle enthusiasts) and not forgetting toilets ….  I do so wish they’d sort the variation for dogs as it’s been unpleasant to witness people in wheelchairs suffering the aftermath and deposits of thoughtless pets, or rather the failure of their owners to act responsibly.

The funding for all these?  We are informed that it will come from ‘core’, so despite the fact that budgets are being cut there is the ‘suggestion’ that additional expenditure can be accommodated?  Not possible, so then what is dropped or neglected?  Given that Thorne & Hatfield Moors SSSI for example, have yet to achieve ‘favourable condition status’ (FCS) so if funds are diverted from nature conservation management then how will that situation be addressed?  Thereafter if they fail to achieve FCS are they de-notified and disposed of?

Alarmist, not at all …. how many of you remember the 1997 endeavour by English Nature to denotify large areas of Thorne & Hatfield Moors SSSI when the peat extractors Fison’s funded the hydrological reports upon which the EN case was based?  Interestingly there is no corporate sponsor of the ‘science’ this time, perhaps that’s why there is none?  Perhaps the local authorities who might benefit as they impose more restrictions on dogs in public places are keen to see NNRs become ‘alternative country parks’?

There is the issue of health and safety, Thorne Moors SSSI particularly have very deep and dangerous drains and canals.  Parts of Crowle Moors SSSI too are equally as inviting but just as dangerous.  Worse though are the uncontrolled dogs.  Already there have been two attacks on Hatfield Moors and one was sufficiently serious to be reported to the police.

Dog walker

Please note that the walker and the dog pictured above, are not as far as we are aware the guilty parties of the attack mentioned above.

A Senior Director has tried to suggest that there will be little difference in reality, so why on earth spend funds on the exercise?

As the sites are rewetted through the implementation of the Water Level Management Plan required to assist achieving FSC, the Special Protection Area (SPA) interest feature the enigmatic and crepuscular nightjar will be squeezed to the drier areas.

Nightjar (PP)

What of the woodlark, a Schedule 1 breeding bird?  They too have already been disturbed and displaced by NE access projects in previous seasons.  But, as ‘judge and jury’ NE refused to ‘hear’ the complaint.  These are also the areas which are favoured for picnics and needed for car parks and cafes, toilets etc.

The Forum do not oppose open access in principle, but this plan / project promoted by Natural England has been a communication failure from start to the present time.  The Senior Director was insistent that the Forum have been consulted, rather the reality was that we had been notified and in my South Yorkshire dictionary there is a substantive difference in meaning between the two words!  There has been no ‘science’ to support the proposal this time, but if you examine the proportion of access vs science based staff in NE that is perhaps not surprising and there is negligible commissioned science by the Government agency here in the Humberhead Levels.

So, thank you to those of you who have signed the 38 degree petition, if you are new to the Forum’s blog and haven’t signed the petition then please consider doing so.  Better still, write to your MP, or the Minister (Owen Paterson) or the Chairman of the Board of NE about the issue.  If you would like to know more then please contact us via execsec@thmcf.org

“Moffin” on the Moors

August 17, 2013

Another post after ‘moor’ time spent on Crowle Moors ….

Having made sure the ‘lucky wellies’ were packed and with fingers crossed I headed for Crowle Moors for the second time in a week where a group of hardy naturalists set up two pairs of traps in the hope of attracting Haworth’s Minor, an uncommon species, listed in “The Inventory” as being last recorded on Thorne Moors in 1990 and Hatfiield Moors in 1970.  We set up camp strategically based within a ‘light flight’ to the species foodplant, eriophorum spp. i.e. cotton grass.  It is described as a Local species, known from between 100 – 300 10km squares (based on W,T&L, 2003).

As dusk came, so too the nighjars who graced us with their presence.  At least three birds came to ‘investigate’ our lights and a little later there was a considerable amount of churring for about an hour or so until the evening cooled down and when later condensation was found on the trap boxes and perspex wings.  Clearly still vociferous males out partying late into the season.  The latest date for nightjar on the Humberhead peatlands is as far as I’m aware that of a weak flying juvenile bird I logged on Hatfield Moors on 14 September 1997, which is actually the latest date for the county (Yorkshire).

After the thoroughly enjoyable and not totally unexpected interlude, back to the moths ….  July Highflyers in good numbers and Drinkers by the score, a couple of Ruby Tigers and then at five minutes to ten, a small noctuid landed on top of the tripod net, and a sharp eyed ‘moth-er’ realising its potential jumped into action!  Despite a game of dodge ’ems and chasing charlie it was soon captured and yes, we had our target species!

Haworth's Minor 3

It was also an evening of Canary-shouldered Thorns with perhaps thirty visiting the traps, a common enough species but a ‘bright and cheery’ addition to the list.  Good numbers of Lesser Swallow Prominents and a couple of delightful probable second generation Birch Mocha.  Four species of underwings and a similar numbers of pug species, and a different looking, not quite right Purple Clay which actually turned out to be a Barred Chestnut!  The other good find was Angle-striped Sallow, listed in “The Inventory” for Thorne in 1982, so another good ‘tick’ for the evening.  A good reference source in terms of the status of UK moths is Butterfly Conservation’s The State of the UK Larger Moths 2013.  Also recorded were a couple of Chevron, a variable species with colour forms from yellow through to brown.

Chevron 1

So, an excellent evenings work, good company and the data adding to the catalogue which continues to build a picture of the species present on the peatlands.  All this to some special and evocative background ‘music’ of nighjars, long-eared and tawny owls.  Watch this space for ‘moor’ detail and images from the night.

Images by Matt Blissett.

Make the most of the wildlife while it’s there

July 17, 2013

The image of a Grass Snake below, sent in by Bryan Wainwright, illustrates clearly the species distinct collar with two yellow patches each with a black crescent-shaped mark to the rear.  Females are larger than males and also have broader heads with less distinctive yellow patches and which in older individuals may be absent.  Whilst reasonably common on Thorne and Hatfield Moors they can also be encountered in gardens, indeed the leathery eggs can often be found in compost heaps or young emerging from those grass heaps in August and September.  A recent slough from my garden measured 75cms maybe a little more but it had begun to dry and ‘shrink’ when I measured it.

GRASS SNAKE 010A

 

This image below, taken by Matt Blissett, depicts an immature Smooth Newt, recently metamorphosised was taken on Crowle Moors at the beginning of July. It is an interesting record as Smooth or Common Newts as they are also known are generally regarded as prefering neutral to slightly alkaline pH.

 

imm Smooth Newt MB 075

 

The spectacular image below of the SPA interest feature of Thorne and Hatfield Moors, the enigmatic nightjar shows clearly the distinctive white patches which indicate that this is a male.  They arrive in the uk at the end of May and begin to take up their territories and announce that fact with their evocative and magical churring.  These birds are crepuscular in their habits (appearing at dawn and dusk) but can occasionally be flushed during the day.  The species, which is protected in law, is susceptible to disturbance by walkers, particularly those with dogs off leashes.  An annual survey is undertaken on Thorne and Hatfield Moors but it is a basic count of churring males and does not provide any indication of breeding success, fledging or numbers of broods etc.

 

Nightjar TM

 

For more of his spectacular images go to Tim Melling’s flickr site.  See also Mark Avery’s blog where a stunning Purple Emperor adorns Mark’s post.

 

The ‘spittlebug’ below, taken by Steve Hiner (Natural England) is probably Aphrophora alni Alder Spittlebug.  A common froghopper and recorded from both Thorne and Hatfield Moors.

 

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The image below, another of Steve’s shows Strangalia quadrifasciata a colourful and common longhorn beetle.  Associated with old woodland and particularly oak, alder and sometimes willows.  The larvae are wood borers in wood, stumps and logs.

 

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So, nothing controvertial today, just items of natural history interest while they can still be had, enjoyed and shared.


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Mark Avery

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I write about politics, nature + the environment. Some posts are serious, some not. These are my views, I don't do any promotional stuff and these views are not being expressed for anyone who employs me.

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