Papers – Volume 7

Volume 7

Volume 7, edited by Nicki J. Whitehouse. Published 2008. Pp.[i]-vi, 1–75; Colour ‘wraparound’ photographic cover (cottongrass). Price £6 plus p&p

To Stephen W. Warburton: An Appreciation – Helen Kirk & Brian Eversham

Personal Reflections – The Discovery of a Neolithic Age Causeway, Hatfield Moor – Mick Oliver

Mick Oliver presents a personal perspective of when the peat cutters left Hatfield Moors and his emotions when he discovers a Neolithic trackway on the site soon afterwards: both significant moments in the history of the Moors.

Peat Bog Tale: Personal Reflections on Thorne Moors – Gretel Boswijk

In this highly reflective and poetic account, Gretel Boswijk provides a personal perspective on Thorne Moors and takes us back to the Moor almost 6000 years ago. She describes what Thorne Moors and its wider surroundings may have looked like in the distant past by metaphorically peeling back the layers of the bog, describing changes to this unique wetland landscape.

The Artificial Nature of Some Humberhead River and Stream Courses – Geoff Gaunt

Geological evidence shows that many Humberhead rivers and streams have been widely diverted artificially from their original natural courses, initiated about 10,600 ±1,100 years ago. Unfortunately, geology cannot date these course changes. Some such courses already existed by the 1570s, being shown on Saxton’s relevant county maps. No dates of their construction are recorded but some idea of their antiquity can be gleaned from the earliest references to their existence. Certain diverted courses pre-date the 1086 Domesday Survey (one being mentioned in a charter of 959). They suggest a Roman origin, possibly as part of an inland waterways system (and locally for building-stone transport). Other diverted courses, post-Domesday but pre-Saxton, may have been constructed at varying times and for more diverse purposes such as bulk transport (e.g. of building stone and peat), drainage, powering watermills and marking boundaries. The more recent major artificial diversions, those resulting from the Vermuyden Drainage and Wentworth Judgement in the 1620s and 1630s, are well documented in historical texts and maps, so only a short summary is included here.

Peatlands and Environment Change – A long term Perspective on Peatland Management & Restoration – Dan J. Charman

This review provides an over-view of why peatlands are important and draws attention to the broader temporal context of their management and restoration and potential approaches provided by the palaeoenvironmental record. In particular, the paper focuses and draws attention to three different areas: peatlands as constantly evolving systems and the ability of the palaeoenvironmental record to establish their natural conditions and the extent to which they are subjected to natural change; the important role peatlands have in the global carbon cycle and especially the importance of preserving their remaining carbon pool as well as their potential role in sequestering CO2 from the atmosphere; the role of the palaeoenvironmental record in providing information on the biotic responses and associated impacts to climate change. Future climate change poses a real threat to the sustainable management of peatlands such as Thorne and Hatfield Moors. Reduced summer precipitation and increased summer temperatures will result in much drier peatlands. Management and restoration may have to consider artificially supplemented water supplies for particularly sensitive sites, and there may be drying of peatlands and consequent changes in vegetation on many relatively undamaged sites.

The History of Peatlands and their Conservation – Richard J. Lindsay

This paper provides a review of the history of peatland conservation, from the days when ecologists and the general public thought of mires as ‘wastes’, through to an appreciation of the devastating loss of the resource and subsequent campaigns to protect these unique habitats. Key events over the last 25 years or more of environmental campaigning are highlighted, through to the continuing challenges to peatland conservation and management caused by climate change.

Butterfly Monitoring on Thorne Moors 1982 – 2000 – Peter C Roworth & Janet Roworth

A standardised method for butterfly monitoring was developed at Monks Wood Experimental Station in 1975. Transect counts are now used in the Butterfly Monitoring Scheme whereby, through the data gathered, the changes in the abundance of butterflies in a locality or at national level can be assessed. A butterfly transect was established on Thorne Moors, now part of the Humberhead Peatlands National Nature Reserve, in 1982. The transect route followed tracks in an area known as the Southern Canals. Here there was a mixed habitat, including the mire communities of abandoned peat cuttings, wet and dry heath, poor fen, willow and birch scrub, and the more alkaline conditions provided by the clinker and lime-rich ballast of the old tramways and paths. With such a variety of vegetation this area was particularly rich in butterflies. Originally in four sections, a fifth section was added to the transect in 1990, passing through bog communities, where it was hoped to pick up trends in the large heath Coenonympha tullia population.

During the monitoring period, 1982-2000, 23 species of butterfly were observed. Although species numbers at the beginning and end of the survey period were similar, at around 11 to 13, the highest numbers were recorded in the late 1980s and early 1990s. The fortunes of some species were closely linked to the survival of their respective larval food plants, and habitat change, whether resulting from climate change, fire, or through active management. The major rewetting programme, begun in 1992, led to an increase in water levels and mire communities, and the consequent loss of the more alkaline habitats. This has resulted in a change in butterfly species and numbers recorded. Thus, the total butterfly index value was 501 in 1982 and it peaked at 1971 in 1984. Further peaks occurred in 1992 and 1996 but it had dropped to 269 by 2000, compared with an average of 889.9.

New Epiphytic Bryophytes on Thorne Moors – Colin Wall

A summary of recent bryophytes recovered from Thorne Moors and particularly of the area of Will Pitts and Pony Bridge Wood is provided, along with details of their associated find spots. The significance of each species is discussed by reference to the south Yorkshire region. It is concluded that the improvements in recent air quality, especially decreases in sulphur dioxide levels, probably account for recent increases in bryophytes in the county, but that it is essential that the receptive habitat of carr woodland, as typified by Pony Bridge Wood and Will Pits, be allowed to flourish

A Study of Bat (Chiroptera) usage of Thorne Moors NNR During 1999/2000 by the East Yorkshire Bat Group – Tony Lane

A night-time survey of bat (Chiroptera) usage of Thorne Moors NNR between August 1999 and October 2000 showed that at least four species were provisionally identified when walking the circular yellow waymarked route of approximately 5 Km; Pipistellus pipistrellus, Myotis mystacinus/brandtii (indistinguishable in flight), Myotis daubentonii and Nyctalus noctula. The results suggest that Thorne Moors NNR provides a valuable feeding area for bats in the Humberhead Peatlands NNR area.

Historical Breeding by Ruff: Philomachus pugnax in the Lower Don Valley – Martin Limbert

A review of historical accounts concerning the sighting of Ruff, Philomachus pugnax is provided by reference to the Lower Don Valley. The marshy areas such as those found on Potteric Carr and Thorne and Hatfield Moors attracted breeding Ruff. Unfortunately, much of the carr habitat suitable for Ruff was probably lost by enclosure and reclamation in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries, probably eliminating the species’ nesting grounds. There was also increased human accessibility into the traditional breeding areas and mounting pressure by hunting. Consequently, the last historical account relates to sightings of the bird during the early 20th century, possibly as a transient rather than breeding population.