New path is a big hit with all kinds of vis­i­tors

Middleton Guardian - - THE LAUGHING BADGER - SEAN WOOD

A NEW path at Dove Stone reser­voir near Green­field has proved a big hit with vis­i­tors and wildlife alike, and from this Old Water­man who used to pa­trol the area 20-odd years ago, as well as Long­den­dale of course, it is proof pos­i­tive that the re­gional man­agers at North West Wa­ter should have lis­tened to me in the first place.

It soon be­came ob­vi­ous to me that this beau­ti­ful area which in­cludes the high level Chew Reser­voir could be trans­formed with a bit of care and for­ward plan­ning.

I’m de­lighted to say that, and bet­ter late than never, United Util­i­ties, aka North West Wa­ter in part­ner­ship, have cre­ated a gem. Fol­low­ing months of hard work by RSPB Site War­dens and a hardy gang of lo­cal vol­un­teers, vis­i­tors to Dove Stone can now en­joy a walk off the beaten track through a wood­land set­ting, tak­ing in wildlife ponds and reser­voir views.

The new path has been cre­ated through one of United Util­i­ties’ ma­ture conifer plan­ta­tions (known as Pen­ny­worth Plan­ta­tion) and al­lows all vis­i­tors, in­clud­ing those with all-ter­rain wheel­chairs to ex­pe­ri­ence a dif­fer­ent set­ting to the main cir­cu­lar trail.

Staff and vol­un­teers will next be plant­ing trees such as oak, rowan and birch to cre­ate a won­der­ful mixed wood­land of the sort that would nat­u­rally grow there.

The conifers have been thinned out to al­low more light in, and dead wood, an­other im­por­tant com­po­nent of wood­land man­age­ment, has been left to cre­ate habi­tat piles for in­sects, small mam­mals and birds like robins and wrens, and leave some tree stumps stand­ing up­right for a va­ri­ety of in­sects and birds like wood­peck­ers.

In fact leav­ing dead wood has proved to be es­pe­cially im­por­tant for one tiny crea­ture – a brand new res­i­dent at Dove Stone which has ap­peared di­rectly as a re­sult of this work.

RSPB vol­un­teer and lo­cal nat­u­ral­ist Ken Gart­side sug­gested holes were drilled into some dead conifer stumps to cre­ate ar­ti­fi­cial rot holes which hov­er­flies breed in.

The team at Dove Stone are very ex­cited to re­port that Ken has al­ready found the rare furry pine hov­er­fly for the first time ever at Dove Stone as a di­rect re­sult of this work

The pine hov­er­fly is ar­guably the most en­dan­gered hov­er­fly in the UK.

It has al­ways had a re­stricted range, but was reg­u­larly recorded in Strath­spey and Dee­side, in Scot­land, up to the 1940s.

Since then, it has dra­mat­i­cally de­clined and in the late 1990s sur­veys by the Mal­loch So­ci­ety (a spe­cial­ist aca­demic or­gan­i­sa­tion that stud­ies flies), funded by Scot­tish Nat­u­ral Her­itage, found only two re­main­ing pop­u­la­tions of this species, both in Strath­spey.

The pine hov­er­fly is also de­clin­ing in Europe, where it is re­stricted to moun­tain­ous ar­eas. The pine hov­er­fly needs rot­ten tree stumps that are more than 40cm across to breed.

The lack of these large stumps in pinewoods – es­pe­cially stumps with the nec­es­sary rot con­di­tions – has been the cause of the de­cline.

As well as the new path through the plan­ta­tion, staff and vol­un­teers have also im­proved ac­cess at Binn Green with a new wheel­chair friendly path to the view­point and bird feed­ing area.

RSPB

Furry pine hov­er­fly

The Laugh­ing Bad­ger Gallery, 99 Platt Street, Pad­field, Glos­sop

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