Welcome to the Eastern Moors blog site. In recent months this has been updated so that wardens, volunteers and supporters can now write blogs, submit photographs and comment on Eastern Moors topics. Please click on an appropriate tab above to get involved. If you are unsure how to post a picture, article or comment then please look at the Users Guide or email us.

Thursday, 15 December 2016

Well done Youth Rangers!

Youth Rangers never turn their nose up at a job. No task is too muddy, too wet or too much hard work, as long as it’s for nature. During 2016 Youth Rangers have got stuck into their usual programme of conservation work including ditch blocking, bird box building, woodland work, car park improvements and ecology surveys. As well as this they’ve shared their enthusiasm, helping out at events such as the annual Bolving competition and participating in the Stanage Youth Forum.

Studies have shown that children are innately interested in nature, indeed they are fascinated by it. And that for them to remain connected to nature, all they need is successive, momentary experiences within it. Sadly the distractions of growing up in a modern technologically based world means that many young people lose interest in nature when they reach secondary school age. On the Eastern Moors we aim to support a journey of involvement, providing fun, age appropriate ways to become actively involved with nature conservation, whatever their age or ability. Three young people joined Youth Rangers this September having previously taken part in the Junior Ranger programme – our rewards programme for volunteers aged Under 18. A number of our Youth Rangers have also joined us to further their experiences through work placements from school including Sam, a Youth Ranger who is now joining us during the week for further volunteering and training before he starts his Zoology degree and hopefully progresses into a conservation career!

It is now possible to be involved with the Eastern Moors right from aged two as a “Ranger Tot”, through to Junior Rangers, Youth Rangers, Work Placements and all the way up to adulthood as one of our valued volunteers.

To recognise their achievement and commitment to helping nature, this year the Youth Ranger group participated in the John Muir Award.  Eighteen young people gained their John Muir Award with several more achieving the Peak Park Award. Both awards recognise a commitment to discover, explore, conserve and share your love of a “wild” place.

 Here’s what a few of them had to say about their experience of volunteering this year...

This year I have enjoyed each session tremendously, but my personal favourite has been the tree felling since it is a very technical skill with alot of theory to do before the tree is felled. I also enjoyed the adder spotting walk as it allowed me to see something that is very rare to see and to appreciate animal habitats and how we can respect them.

-          Dominic

In Youth Rangers this year I have enjoyed everything from bracken bashing to the Stanage trip but mostly I have enjoyed being with good, kind, people whose strong wills and love for the natural world around us is second to none. I learnt that even the coldest and darkest days can’t stop the will of determined mind and that whatever the weather throws at us we keep going.

-          Sam

In the Youth Ranger group this year I have enjoyed all of the sessions, but my particular favourites have been tree felling and meadow surveying at Curbar Gap, and bird ringing early in the year. As always, this year I have learnt a lot about the environment that surrounds me and how the delicate balances between humans and the natural world create the Moors and its ecosystem.

I always look forward to the Ranger sessions, as they allow me to leave behind the stress of school for a few hours and let me indulge in what I love: being outside and conservation work. I like the Rangers that run the sessions, and feel as if I have gained many friends with common interests as myself. We always have a great time, and are always guaranteed to learn something new. I especially love the winter sessions, as not only do we get hot chocolate, it is magical to be out on the Moors during the winter seasons.

-          Ella

The Youth Rangers are a fantastic team and an absolute joy to work with – even when they annihilate the biscuits before the leaders get so much as a sniff! We’re looking forward to 2017 when they will be volunteering to plant trees, repair paths and get very mucky as the help take care of a special place for people and wildlife.

If you know or are a young person with a passion for nature then please get in touch with You can also find out more about volunteering for all on our website:


Saturday, 26 March 2016

Leaving the winter behind...

The curlews are bubbling overhead, the first ring ouzels of the year have been spotted on Burbage, and skylarks are filling the air with their melodic musings; it can only mean one thing...Spring is on it's way.

The shifting of the seasons has got us all in reflective mood here at the Eastern Moors, and we’ve been looking back over some of our winter woodland work...
One of many new bird boxes around the Eastern Moors Estate and Burbage
In the last few years we’ve put up well over a hundred new bird boxes in the woodlands of Curbar, Froggatt, Birchen and Surprise View. These are targeting pied flycatcher and redstart, but in all likelihood will be used by a host of other species; blue tit, great tit, and nuthatch. The reason for choosing these woodlands to put up bird boxes is because of the lack of veteran trees, which contain the cracks, holes and crevices that our native birds favour.
Some of the Youth Rangers proudly display their handiwork
The boxes have been a real team effort. The flat-packs were made by members of our Thursday volunteer group, and were built by the Eastern Moors Youth Rangers and CVQO, an education charity designed to recognise the work undertaken by young people and adult volunteers. They were put up by the warden team, again with the help of some of our practical volunteers. So, all in all, a real team effort!
 We’ve also put up a barn owl box on Leash Fen. Barn owls need rough grassland and plenty of voles to maintain a healthy population. But they also need a place to raise young. In the past there were plenty of old barns, and hollow, ancient trees. Nowadays they need all the help they can get.
This barn owl box is a new edition to the estate
Another bird that needs our help is the merlin. The UK’s smallest bird of prey, their population has declined alarmingly since the mid 1900s. Merlin generally nest on the ground in the UK, but have been known to nest in trees on the edge of moorland, often in abandoned crows nests. With advice from the South Yorkshire Raptor Group, we’ve put some nests up in locations where we know they have bred historically, in the hope that they move back in.

The nesting material for merlin nests was gathered into bundles...

...and the Youth Rangers did the rest.

Woodland work

Boxes are great for a quick fix. But long term, our aim is to develop a rich habitat which doesn’t rely on them. Instead, mature trees will provide the natural nesting holes that birds seek.
It’s for this reason that we’ve been busy with other woodland work. Winching trees over creates a rootplate microhabitat, and also creates an immediate “understory”; a layer of tree cover at a height lower than that of the canopy. Having vegetation at a variety of different heights throughout the woodland is great for supporting the needs of different flora and fauna.
Winching over trees mimics natural wind-throw and creates an important microhabitat.
We have been felling trees too. This creates light and space to enable young trees to regenerate naturally. It also gives some of the more mature trees the chance to “breathe” and spread out; making sure that we have large specimen trees for future generations of people and wildlife to enjoy. Woodland glades and rides are good for bats that hunt in woodland clearings too, and also species like pied flycatcher and redstart.
Pied Flycatcher - coming to a wood near you soon.
We’ve been avoiding “tidying up” the woodland as we go. Deadwood is brilliant for wildlife, so we have left as much as possible, either standing (for woodpeckers, beetles, etc) and fallen (for fungi, compost). Not only that, we’ve been stem injecting trees to create even more deadwood. Birds like willow tit, who have also suffered huge declines due to habitat loss and the intensification of agriculture, need deadwood to excavate their nests in. Just one of the many species that we hope to help through our woodland management.
We’ll be continuing to monitor the impacts of our work on woodland bird populations this year, thanks to our Woodland Bird Count volunteers. With a bit of luck, our resident birds, along with those arriving from overseas, will be able to call the Eastern Moors home this year, and for many years to come.

Wednesday, 24 February 2016

Take the Lead in the Peak District

Take the Lead in the Peak District is a campaign celebrating responsible dog walking in the countryside. During lambing and bird nesting season from 1 March to 31 July, the campaign aims to raise awareness of the reasons why dog owners are asked to put their dogs on a lead or keep them under effective control during this sensitive period.
Dog walkers are important guardians of our countryside, routinely walking busy paths as well as exploring lesser known areas from dawn to dusk, in all weathers, throughout the year. They are the eyes and ears of the landscape, noticing seasonal change, recognising unusual wildlife sightings as well as witnessing undesirable behaviour and identifying problems with paths, gates and tracks. Dog walkers are also wildlife enthusiasts, climbers, archaeologists, cyclists, horse riders, orienteers, biologists, geologists, ecologists! They come from all walks of life with two common interests, they love their dogs and they love the outdoors!
It is in fact the law...
Take the Lead celebrates this infectious love of dog walking whilst raising awareness of how responsible dog walking leads to a countryside richer in wildlife and helps keep sheep, lambs and ground nesting birds safe from harm. From 1 March to 31 July it is the law under the Countryside Rights of Way Act 2000, to keep your dog on a lead of no more than 2 metres on open access land, and at all times around livestock. On public rights of way it is the law to keep your dog under effective control at all times.
Keep sheep safe from harm...
During the lambing season sheep are at their most vulnerable, however all year round sheep are chased and injured if not killed by dogs, and often it is by dogs that people truly believe wont chase sheep. This is why it is so important to keep your dog on a lead at all times when near livestock.
Protect eggs and young chicks in nests on the ground...
In the Peak District there are a multitude of ground nesting birds including curlew, snipe, woodcock, meadow pipits, skylark and stonechat. Their nests, sometimes little more than a scrape, is generally an effective technique for laying their eggs. However it can leave their eggs and chicks open to predation from wildlife such as foxes, carrion and badgers.  A dog running across the landscape is just one disturbance too many for these bird species and can have a significant detrimental effect on breeding success. Many people are unaware that birds nest on the ground, and it doesn’t help that their nests are cleverly camouflaged. Take the Lead aims to raise awareness that nests are present and highly sensitive to disturbance by dogs.  
The thing about cattle...
Cattle are included in the term livestock and qualify for the same respect when walking your dog, by keeping your distance and your dog on a lead. However, cattle can feel threatened by dogs. If you think you may be chased, let go of the lead.
It’s all in the partnership...
Take the Lead is a campaign supported by the Sheffield Moors Partnership. The partnership is made up of the Eastern Moors Partnership, RSPB, National Trust, Sheffield Wildlife Trust, Sheffield City Council, Peak District National Park Authority and Natural England. These land owners and managers strive to work together to create a landscape rich in wildlife and enjoyable for people, within the Peak District and on the edges of Sheffield.