Posts Tagged ‘Thorne Times’

‘Moor’ moth-athon and consulting on conservation.

July 27, 2014


In July 2012 a moth session held on the western periphery of Thorne Moors and the eventual number of species recorded in a single evening was 162!  Pretty impressive by any standards for an inland site (not one of the coastal migration hotspots).

So, Ron Moat a local lepidopterist who has been compiling a list of species recorded from Thorne Moors over recent decades thought it would make an interesting exercise if a series of Mercury Vapour (MV) light traps were worked across Thorne Moors, from Crowle in the east across to the western edge.  This ‘moth-athon’ took place on Friday evening.

MV lights attract the greatest number of species and volume than Actinic traps, but some Actinics were operated in support of the MVs.  Two species recorded in Actinics but not at the MVs were Antler and Narrow-winged Pug.

What a difference the right kind of weather can make, compare that of two years ago to that of Friday evening.  We were lucky in that it had been a rain free evening (after a hot day) but the temperature dropped fairly quickly through the evening, this coupled with a clear sky resulted in wet vegetation and reduced numbers of moths and notably species counts.  There were five MV lights across Thorne Moors and another pair positioned on the western periphery and we believe a team out on Crowle Moors, but they’ve yet to report back!  Our western periphery team, led by Harry Beaumont managed a respectable 103 species which appears to be the best count for a ‘site’ and which included five new micros and a new macro for Thorne Moors: Cameraria ohridella (Horse Chestnut Leaf Miner), Recurvaria leucatella, Cochylis dubitana, Apotomis semifascia, Stenoptilia zophodactyla and Lilac Beauty.

The tally for the evening so far stands at 148 species but all the lists are not yet in, so that 162 record might still be reached by the collective capacity.  Thanks must go to Ron Moat for rising to the challenge and initiating the event, to Natural England staff Steve and Louise for helping out with logistics and to Darren and Cat from JBA Consulting for their useful assistance also.  Not forgetting all the ‘moth-ers’ who attended and took part in this event a massive thank you for contributing valuable data.  There has been the suggestion made that it becomes an annual event ….

It is hoped that a more detailed account will be published in due course when all the data is in, so watch this space!


140727 D purpurea hrk 351

The government are encouraging the general public to help pollinators by growing wildflowers amongst other things, Digitalis or Foxglove to give it its more common name above, a once common plant makes a delightful contribution to gardens. 

Perhaps government is recognising that the greater contribution is potentially made by the public rather than agri-industry?



Recent conversations with local people has revealed some quite interesting finds such that we were persuaded to create a questionnaire to try to assess what people knew about and thought about Thorne & Hatfield Moors and the organisations and projects associated with it.  It is pleasing to learn that people see it as a wilderness and a landscape to be valued and most of the visitors rate the natural history interest as important.  There is certainly confusion around who in terms of statutory agencies and authorities are responsible for and what they are delivering.  Another pleasing aspect was that the regular piece “Ramblings and nature notes of a bog-trotter” in the Thorne Times is well received.  We are reviewing the initial sample returns and plan to refine and revise the questions as appropriate, so watch this space as the views and comments of regular readers will be of particular interest as we assume that you have a better than average understanding and appreciation of these magical moors ….

‘Moor’ badgering, upland Hen Harriers, Natural England have a new Chief Executive & Beverley Common.

June 27, 2014


The plight of beleaguered brock was brought home to me recently when I attended a meeting to explore ways of safeguarding the last few setts in the area.  We knew the situation was bleak but apparently it’s actually worse than we’d imagined and local naturalists are pretty hardened to public attitude to wildlife and the natural environment.  We were aware that South Yorkshire is the known cruelty capital and Doncaster is particularly bad.

Why do people enjoy inflicting cruelty on animals?  Why are the police unable to secure prosecutions?  Why do such crimes go unpunished?  Perhaps more cattle should be farmed here where there is a reduced badger population and then there would be no need for Paterson to continue his vendeta against the species elsewhere in England?  Recent press coverage questions efficacy of the culls.


Of persecution, the Hen Harrier epetition “Ban driven grouse shooting” created by Dr Mark Avery continues to secure additional signatures and now stands at 5,861 could it reach the 10,000 threshold by the inglorious 12th?  Anyone interested in attennding a peaceful day out with like minded folk is invited to meet not only Mark but Chris Packham as well, see “Standing up for nature” post for ‘moor’ details.

The Ethical Consumer Research Association (May 2014) has written a very readable, well researched and informed report Turn your back on GROUSE A popular campaign against greed and intensification on England’s grouse shooting estates.


Another bit of news material to any reader interested in the politics of Defra agencies, is the announcement of the new Chief Executive of Natural England, James Cross.  The usual PR material is available on various websites but suffice to encapsulate the spin, Andrews Sells, Natural England’s Chairman, commented: “I am delighted to be able to announce the appointment of James Cross as our new Chief Executive. He brings a wealth of experience which will be invaluable to us.

“Natural England does vital work on behalf of the environment and we are keen to drive forward the programme of reform outlined in the Triennial Review, further develop our status as a trusted advisor to government and build confidence and respect among our many stakeholders and customers for the way we work with them. James will bring an important combination of experience, energy and drive to enable this to happen.”   

Previously CE of the Marine Management Organisation we await evidence to back up the words.  Interestingly Dave Webster who was appointed Natural England’s Acting Chief Executive in March 2012 and continued in the role while the Triennial Review was underway, confirmed in March this year that he would not be seeking the role on a permanent basis and will be leaving Natural England on 18 July 2014 to take on a new executive role within Defra.  Natural England’s Executive Director, Guy Thompson will act as interim Chief Executive until James Cross takes up the permanent Chief Executive role on 1st September 2014.  So along with the recent restructuring how long before there is any robust science to underpin the dash to Dedicate Open Access across all publically owned NNRs?  We’ve already had reports of increased equine access and even 4 x 4’s attempting to cross ditches to access Hatfield Moors …. one might be forgiven for having concerns about the proportion of reduced budget has been spent on yet another restructure, redundancy packages, recruitment and the like?  Nature conservation a very poor second perhaps even third if you contrast against access and engagement?


Readers may be aware that in the ERY applications are progressing to Deregister and Exchange Land at Beverley Westwood COM544.  It seems that the local authority have been writing to objectors ahead of the Public Inquiry seeking to get the withdrawl of those objections.  The campaign has hit the front page of the Hull Daily Mail.  There is a real fear that a precedent would be set by the approval of such an application.

The Open Spaces Society have added their objection to a growing call for more open and transparent conduct of business by the local authority.  For details of the full saga then the reader is signposted to the excellent Beverley Commons Blog which regales the debacle in full technicolour.  There are a number of related issues which add to the complexity including procedural issues around the application by developers to build luxury housing on the former Westwood Hospital.   The ERYC planning website refers to the development as application 3876, yet a letter received by the Forum yesterday refers to the same description as application number 0573!  Confusing, definitely!  Even more so when I tried to locate the Forum’s representation, as rare as a South Yorkshire Meles meles!  In fact it appears rarer …. so watch this space for updates.

It is a dilemma of modern living perhaps that finds what we previously took for granted as being protected sites are slowly being eroded and nibbled away at the edges to benefit business and not retained for the public benefit, the basis on which they were established.

& finally for tonight ….

For those readers who are not able to receive the Thorne Times as a newspaper, then read the June edition of Ramblings and nature notes of a bog-trotter here.




Thorne Times offers readers chance to win Limited Edition Prints

December 21, 2013

Readers local to Thorne & Hatfield Moors may well receive the Thorne Times, a recent iniative which sees local stories contributed by local people.  The paper is the project of Karren Wake who funds the ‘freesheet’ and its delivery to in excess of 16,000 properties in the area through advertising.  Each edition sees 48 pages packed with local news, events and items of interest to the local communities of Moorends, Thorne, Fishlake, Hatfield, Stainforth, Dunscroft & Dunsville.

It has just distributed its fourth edition, the January copy in which the regular column “Ramblings and nature notes of a bog-trotter” offers readers the opportunity to win a set of Limited Edition Prints, individually signed by the artist, the late Dr Peter Skidmore?  Other runner up prizes include copies of An Inventory of the Invertebrates of Thorne & Hatfield Moors and other Thorne & Hatfield Moors Conservation Forum publications.  All correct entries will receive a copy of the Forum’s Hatfield Moors map (to be collected from the Thorne Times office).

There are six easy questions, the answers to which can be found in the first three editions of the Thorne Times.

  1. Who described the late Wm Bunting as “Naturalist, Pamphleteer, Archivist, Rebel, Bad-tempered old-sod and Inspiration”?
  2. In 1999 Evarca arcuata was discovered on Hatfield Moors, what is it?
  3. What year was the Thorne Moors beetle first discovered in the UK?
  4. What was the total number of species of invertebrates found from a Survey undertaken in 2012?
  5. What year did English Nature try to remove the protective status of large parts of Thorne & Hatfield Moors?
  6. Which winter thrushes breed in Scandanavia?

So, many blog readers will know the answers to at least five of the above, question 4 might be the tricky one?

Go on, get a copy and find out more on page 22.  Send in your entry – who knows a copy of the superb Limited Edition Prints may be yours for a few minutes effort.  Runners up prizes include copies of An Inventory of the Invertebrates of Thorne & Hatfield Moors and other Forum publications.



Thorne & Hatfield Moors and its campaigners receive another acolade ….

October 9, 2013

There had been some wonderful autumnal sun the week before, but the day dawned sultry and yet evocative as beffiting the moors. There were a few spots of rain but the weather held, people had dressed sensibly well aware of the nature of our wonderful, wild and windswept landscape.  One commentator suggested that “The setting could not have been bettered” another that “It was an inspired idea to take us to that evocative point on the moors”.  We would certainly agree but then we need no persuasion of the unique nature and emotions they generate.

Thorne Moors has seen some action over the years, it has had amazing discoveries made on it, it has seen demonstrations to save it it and last Friday it saw a celebration when the Lord Lieutenant of South Yorkshire Mr David Moody (the Queen’s representative) presented a British Empire Medal at a specially convened investiture to Helen Kirk, the Forum’s Executive Secretary who was honoured in the New Year’s Honours List 2013, near Blue Bridge along the limestone road actually on Thorne Moors!

The photograph below shows people drawn from the past three decades of peat campaigns, friends and family. Thanks to Craig Bennett (Director of Campaigns at FoE) and to the Rt Hon. Caroline Flint MP for their anecdotal reminiscences of the battles to save Thorne & Hatfield Moors. To Ian Carstairs OBE, a special thank you for acting as Master of Ceremonies.

A particular thank you to the Lord Lieutenant of our beloved county of South Yorkshire, Mr David Moody for his willingness to embrace the spirit of the campaign and to agreeing to the al fresco venue, also to his staff Sharon and Mike – you can tell your grandchildren that you survived the green-eyed tabanids, the cohorts of flies known to haunt the bogs in their millions!

KW Pic 6

It has to be said that there was also the sense and a feeling that past campaigners were there with us, in spirit particularly with the last bottle of 1984 vintage “Mum’s Mild Malt” (given by the ‘infamous WB’ to the late Stephen Warburton and last aired by him at a Ministerial Conference in 2002).  The toast was to the past, to the present and ‘moor’ importantly to the future generation of conservation campaigners who will ensure that these moors, our moors are here for our grandchildren and their granchildren ad infinitum.

Thanks to Karren Wake of the newly launched Thorne Times for spending time out there with us, thanks too for allowing us to share this image marking the event.



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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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