New path is a big hit with all kinds of visitors
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.
Furry pine hoverfly
The Laughing Badger Gallery, 99 Platt Street, Padfield, Glossop