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Friday, 31 October 2014

Totley scrub clearance

This week the wardens have been removing scrub from the mire habitat on Totley Moss.

Silver birch are wonderful trees and very characteristic of the Eastern Moors - we have lots of them! However we have been removing a small number of self seeded silver birch scrub from the south-west corner of Totley Moss, which is mire habitat. This is to allow species more typical of mire such as sphagnum mosses, cotton grass, cranberry and cross-leaved heath to increase and is part of other works such as ditch blocking to promote re-wetting of the area - i.e. getting it nice and boggy! The trees currently obstruct this by drying out the ground, and when they are removed the wetter conditions should stop them returning, but this will need to be monitored with potential follow up work to remove any young scrub that returns. There are also several stands of willow, but these will be left as they support a lot more birds and invertebrates and are less likely than birch to spread across the mire.
Shane surrounded by birch:

As you can see the terrain was pretty rough and boggy, so it was hard work traipsing across with chainsaws and all our kit. Some of the trees were densely packed but a lot were very widely spread which meant a long trek between each tree. To help us get around and thereby reduce the time spent on the job we had the help of this machine and Buddy, its expert driver:

It's called an Argocat and is specially designed for traversing wet, boggy ground - it has very low ground pressure so doesn't get stuck or damage the terrain. Apparently you can drive it into a lake and it will float but none have us have dared to do that yet!

Kim at work:


After, you can see the patches of willow that remain:

We managed to get it all done in two days which was faster than we thought. Hopefully now the mire can start to develop into a soggy paradise.

Friday, 17 October 2014

More red deer news

At rutting time the deer spread themselves more thinly over these moors as stags try to keep their harem of hinds away from the dominant bruisers who want them all in their own collection!
Currently therefore you have a chance to see deer in unusual places.
Only yesterday I came across a young mature stag with 6 hinds at 2 slabs bridge. They were little more than 250 metres from both Sheffield Road and Clodhall Lane but seemed quite at ease. There was another stag in the distance on the slopes above Swine Sty and he also had a harem of 6 hinds.
Although it is not rare to see deer round Swine Sty, it certainly is uncommon at 2 Slabs Bridge.
It is surprising therefore that we have not yet really seen the deer spread out onto the other moors. Totley has had a small population for some time and the occasional group turn up near Sheffield Road at the northern end of Ramsley Moor but other than than virtually nothing.

Another group that keep well out of the way at this time are the none breeders.  Hinds with calves from last year or even the year before rarely mate again until the third year and the young stags and hinds usually don't breed until their fifth year. 
On the road up to Barbrook Cottage I came across a group of four yesterday.  A young mother with her calf and two 'spikers' A spiker is a young stag with a pair of unbranched antlers.  They were reluctant to leave the 'safety' of this area and were still about when I returned 30 minutes later.

Monday, 6 October 2014

Bolving - what's that all about?

There are not too many interesting things that have come out of Devon but one of them is bolving. 
Bolving is the art of reproducing the sound of the rutting deer stag in the hope of getting a response from the real animals out on the Moor.

Here is an example of exactly that:

The art of bolving has slowly been spreading north and now it has reached the Derbyshire Eastern Moors.  What we now need is a clear Derbyshire champion to set the standard by which all others in the area will be judged.

On Saturday 11th October, Eastern Moors will be hosting their first championship.  The idea is for everyone to go out onto the Barbrook dam facing out into the Moor.  One by one participants, drawn by random, will be able to make their call and try and get a response from our local stags.  Bolving will be judged on the volume, quality and reality of each call and the response received from the wild stags. The winner will not only receive a signed certificate but will also receive a voucher for 2 for a meal at the Grouse near Longshaw.  Have you ever had such an offer for an entertaining  early evening? 
We start at 5.30 and after 2 hours you still have time to do whatever you normally do on a Saturday night!

Here is a short video of the real thing.  Not all these red deer are on the Eastern Moors but they all sound roughly the same:

In addition there will be a display about our red deer on Big Moor and a decorated antler competition.  Deer thrash the bracken, heather, grass and moss with their antlers at rutting time to show their frustration and some of it gets lodged on their antlers making them look particularly rediculous.  Can you or your family replicate this action?

We may have a tug of war so that instead of all the pushing and shoving associated with the rut we will be moving in the opposite direction. This depends as much as anything on the weather!

Hot soup will be provided at Barbrook Cottage and you will get chance to meet similar individuals with an interest and passion for our biggest wild mammal 

Wednesday, 1 October 2014

Red deer on Big Moor

The rutting season is now well and truly under way. Lots of noise but not too much action as yet.  
One short walk from the Owler Bar / Longshaw road revealed 7 stags all within a radius of about a mile.  Some have already got a harem but others are still on the prowl.  A few of them are still not quite old enough to challenge the big boys, but I reckon they just like to annoy their elders and keep them on their toes!