Tuesday, 29 August 2017

Dog's Vomit!

A great find from a Community Science volunteer - This yellow blob is actually 'Mucilago crustacea' a slime mould known as dog's vomit (or dog's snot)! 

It was photographed by Julian Barber as he helped with the annual vegetation monitoring at our site on the Roaches in the South West Peak. 

Dog's vomit encrusts over vegetation -  starting off this almost luminous yellow colour, before turning white and then black within 24 hours as the spores mature.

Wednesday, 19 July 2017

Photo competition display - on tour!

Images on display in Bakewell Gallery

A display of the winning, runner-up and selected short-listed photos from our 'water in the uplands' themed photographic competition is now touring venues throughout the summer and into autumn. You can visit the exhibition at the venues below; and we will add more dates to the list when new venues are confirmed.

26th May - 9th June: Gallery Oldham
9th June - 23rd June: Totley Library
23rd June - 7th July - Bakewell Tourist Information Centre
7th July - 21st July - Sheffield Central Library
21st July - 4th August - Marsden Moor Exhibition Centre (National Trust)
4th August - 18th August - Brownhill Countryside Centre, Greater Manchester
18th August - 1st September - Hayfield Library
1st September - 15th September - University of Sheffield -Western Bank Library
15th September - 23rd September - Edale Visitor Centre and 'BogFest'

Wednesday, 28 June 2017

Community Science wildlife records 2016 - an overview

During 2016, Community Science received sightings of 6324 individual animals via our 'casual record' surveys; that is: birds (curlew, red grouse and swallow); butterflies (peacock, orange tip and green hairstreak); mountain hares, brown hares and rabbits; and ring ouzel and redwing.

The majority of sightings - 4322 - were from the birds survey, but 300 butterflies were seen along with 893 hares and rabbits, and 809 ring ouzels or redwings.

The map below shows the distribution of these records across our project area - the Peak District and South Pennines. The blue line is the boundary of the Peak District National Park, and the purple shape is the SAC (Special Area of Conservation) designated as internationally important for the habitats it contains - including blanket bog.

The light blue dots show where sightings of these individual animals came from (note that each dot could represent more than one individual animal, for example if someone saw 10 swallows in a particular place) and it is interesting to note that generally, the sightings broadly match the SAC shape, especially in the Dark Peak area.

The red dots, added for comparison, show where we distributed freepost postcards asking for people to send in sightings (sightings were also submitted via our website and the MoorWILD app). These hint at the correlation between location of sightings and distribution of postcards - underlining the limits of 'casual' surveys such as these.

Nevertheless, there are some useful and interesting things which the data can reveal: During 2016 the casual ring ouzel sightings helped to inform where surveyors looked when conducting an extensive breeding bird survey of the Eastern Moors area. The distribution of hares, and the correlation between mountain hare coat colour and snowfall has fed into a PhD on the subject of 'seasonal crypsis' in that species.

In the longer term, we'll be able to see if the dates certain species are first sighted in a year (for example emergence of green hairstreak butterfly, or the return of curlews to their moorland breeding areas) are shifting - and whether this fits into a pattern of earlier springs which are predicted to occur as our climate changes.

To find out more about current climate change research, please see some of the links we've gathered together on our webpage.

Friday, 26 May 2017

Work placement with Community Science

Guest blog post by Ellie Shaw
I chose to come to Moors for the Future Partnership for my work experience, working with the Community Science team I have seen and taken part in a large range of activities and developed lots of skills.

I have listened to talks about what Moors for the Future do and how they do it and have attended a bumblebee training session in Todmorden where, with a few other members of the local community, we learnt how to identify and record the different types of bees. 

In the afternoon we tried to put what we had learned into practice and went for a walk around the local area, despite there being a lot of flowers and plants, we saw relatively few bees, 5 or 6 early bumblebees, some tree bumblebees and a Common Carder queen bee which I found on a car.

I also helped at an event at Chatsworth where we, myself, Joe and some casual members of staff, set up and ran the teachers preview event in the stick yard to raise awareness but also as a practice for the following weekend. 

As well as various information boards and activities such as matching the caterpillar with the butterfly we had various demonstrations, one showing the blocking up of gullies by pouring water down tubes, one smooth, one grassy and another grass and model gullies demonstrating how the work MFFP do slows down the water and allows sediment to build. We also took peaty water and poured it through a bottle filled with sphagnum moss to show how well it cleans the water.

With school I had to set myself three goals for the week, to improve on analysing figures, improve on problem solving skills and build on my knowledge of using online programs. I feel as though I have achieved all three, I have learnt to analyse records of sighting and been able to input them into iRecord using other programs to help me find the needed information and I have built on problem solving skills through many things such as helping to organise and set up events.

It has been a great week which I have really enjoyed. The range of different things I have seen and done has given me plenty of ideas about what I want to do in the future and a much larger awareness for what is around me. Thank you.

Monday, 9 January 2017

Buds, Berries and Leaves survey: A volunteer view

Guest post by Community Science volunteer Jeff Kessler: 

So, here I am slowly walking up a steep hillside. I’m a bit short of breath & the wind’s cold and has a bit of a bite to it but do I care? No, because the sunshine is glorious & the views are just stunning. 

The other side of Luddenden Dean is a patchwork of fields & woodland; steeper lower down then a shallower slope higher up as it becomes the shelf. Above that is the moor, bleaker but still beautiful & full of life, albeit not quite as showy as some other habitats.

Volunteers undertaking a Buds, Berries and Leaves survey...

I’m on my way from Jerusalem Farm car park to the beginning of the Midgley Moor transect to do the Buds, Berries and Leaves Survey. It’s an easy task, I just have check & record whether the specific plants being surveyed have buds, berries or leaves on them. 

I’ll then pass on the data to Moors for the Future, who’ll use it to learn about changes in the timing of events in the plants’ life cycles; important information to track the effects of climate change. I don’t need to be a botanist, or even know that much about plants to do this, I got the training I need in a day & I know I can contact the Moors for the Future Community Science team if I need any advice.

So, what do I get from doing this survey work for Moors for the Future? I’ve learnt more about certain plants & the moorland habitat, & have now started to work on my general plant id skills & understanding of ecology; I get the satisfaction of contributing to scientific investigation of the natural environment & how to protect it; I get lots of fresh air & exercise; if I’m lucky I’ll see a kestrel or other bird of prey!

All round, well worth doing!

Friday, 16 December 2016

Storm Angus

The UK was battered by rain and high winds in November this year as a storm named 'Angus' made an appearance.

Angus hit the south of England during the 19th and 20th of November, but it wasn't until the day after when the heavy rains had moved north and reached the Peak District and South Pennines, that we were able to record the storm.

This blog post looks at how the equipment installed on our Community Science environmental monitoring sites reacted to this event. 

Volunteers collect information from these sites each month, and use the same equipment and methods as Moors for the Future science team do on other sites where conservation works have taken place. In this case though, we're interested in capturing long-term climate datasets on sites where conservation works haven't taken place.

The bar chart below shows how much rain fell on each of our five sites over four days:

Click on the image to see a larger version
Marsden had the most consistent rainfall with 71.2 mm recorded across the four days. Despite Holme only recording rainfall on the second couple of days of the storm (21st and 22nd), it received the second highest amount, with 73 mm in total. The Roaches had 45.6 mm over the four days and Edale had a surprisingly small 33.6 mm. Out in front was Burbage Moor, which recorded a total of 78mm over the 4 days, with nearly 70% of this falling on Monday 21st.

So how did all this water behave once it reached the ground? The line graph below shows how the water table on the sites changed over the days around the storm. The 'zero' mark on the left hand axis represents ground level, and each line shows how close to the surface the water was (in metres) over the four days of the 'official' storm, and a couple of days afterwards.

Click on the image to see a larger version

We can't be certain what is happening here, but from a quick look at the graph we could surmise that despite having less rainfall than the other sites the water table at Edale (the driest of the sites) increased the most, jumping up by around 10 cm, before rapidly decreasing again as water drained away. 

The Roaches water table also had a sharp increase, however as the water on the site is consistently close to the surface, it only increased to around ground level - but then seemed to stay there, possibly because the site has plenty of Sphagnum moss, and clay underlying the peat layer. 

On the Holme site the water was also already close to the surface, and despite having very high rainfall, the water table didn’t change dramatically, or as quickly. 

Marsden did show an increase in water table - but it was gradual and the new higher level was maintained in the days after the storm event. The site is very flat and also contains Sphagnum moss among its vegetation, which could perhaps help to explain this pattern. 

The site which had the most rainfall (Burbage) also showed a small response - the water was almost at surface level; and you can see it even exceeds zero, forming a puddle! This is another very flat site and does have some Sphagnum moss present. 

The complexity of  hydrological data - taking into account the many variables which can affect the way water behaves on a site - means that we cannot draw any firm conclusions just yet. However, our volunteers will be analysing our environmental data in more depth in the near future...

Graphs and text by volunteer Mollie Hunt, and the CSP team....

Monday, 5 December 2016

A volunteer view

Guest blog post by Community Science volunteer Mollie:

I've been volunteering with Moors for the Future for the last few months and it's been a fantastic experience. 

I've learnt a lot about the flora and fauna of moorland environments and got the opportunity to explore different places across the Peak District/South Pennines.

Since the middle of September I have been taking part in the dipwell campaign. The purpose of this is to measure the water table level across different sites in the South Pennines on the same day every week for twelve weeks. There are over ten areas to cover with 2 to 3 volunteers or staff members each so it's a fairly big operation. 

For our group of volunteers we've had the responsibility of monitoring five patches across the Kinder Scout Plateau. As someone who's only ever been up and down a small part of Kinder it has been an amazing opportunity to explore the landscape up there and see it change as we've gone from September through to December.

Kinder river - our favourite spot for a lunch break

We've seen ring ouzel, kestrels, a mountain hare, lots of grouse, flocks of redwing and field fares and one of my favourites, a snipe. 

It's going to be really interesting to see what the data shows about how well water is retained across different sites, as many of them have restoration works happening nearby. Taking part in the dipwell campaign has been a great way to get involved and didn't need any previous experience. I'm hoping to also take part next year to see how the sites are continuing to change and hopefully spot some more wildlife!

You see all kinds of weather on the dipwell campaign!

If you'd like to volunteer with Moors for the Future take a look at our volunteering page: http://www.moorsforthefuture.org.uk/volunteering-opportunities