TESTING WATER QUALITY AND CONSERVING RIVER HABITATS

During the latter part of 2017 the Group (MVWG) has been testing the water quality in different areas of Moss Valley in an effort to check for any areas of concern in Moss Brook, its tributary streams/inflows and ponds. So far we have tested at 20 sites and we will add a few more on our next recording walk before the survey closes for 2017.

This work stems from an initiative set up by The FRESHWATER HABITATS TRUST www.freshwaterhabitats.org.uk which has run the Clean Water for Wildlife Survey over the last two years. The survey’s aim is to raise awareness of the threats to our natural fresh water habitats and identify clean water habitats in England and Wales. Its ultimate aim is to help to protect freshwater biodiversity.

The Trust provides free testing equipment and the current survey ends at the end of 2017. The test only covers pollution from nitrates and phosphates, so cannot test for other forms of pollution. So far MVWG has found only moderate traces of these chemicals, however we may see fluctuations at times of the year when chemicals are applied to the land more frequently. Nitrate contamination comes mainly from artificial fertilisers via run-off from fields. Run-off becomes more of a problem if the soil lacks sufficient organic material to hold moisture. Phosphate contamination comes mainly from sewage including animal dung, because artificial phosphate fertiliser is less soluble and tends to stay in the soil.

It has been striking to see how short a distance can show fluctuations in contamination levels, possibly due to natural filtering and the influx of clean water. We have a lot to learn, but we know that some species are particularly sensitive to pollution. The above website contains useful information.

The DON CATCHMENT RIVERS TRUST www.dcrt.org.uk has acquired funding to work with others to improve the water environment and deliver environmental benefits for people and wildlife. The Moss Brook, as a tributary to the rivers Rother and Don, forms part of the overall plan drawn up by DCRT. In 2017 MVWG accompanied DCRT staff on a walk along the Moss Brook to look at ways in which the Brook could be improved, for example by removing blockages to help the movement of fish. DCRT has secured funding for conservation work on Eckington Marsh and has applied for further funding to support conservation work in the Don Catchment area. We continue to follow this welcome initiative and will contribute where we can.

MayflyYoung toad

FUNGI WALK WITH ZIGGY SENKANS, 3 OCTOBER 2017

An interesting fungi day as always, led by Sheffield City Council Biodiversity Officer Ziggy Senkans, looking at Newfield Spring Wood and surroundings. There was certainly plenty to look at and ponder over, with around 40 species identified on the day - with a few requiring further checking later. Prominent on the day were buttercaps and ochre brittlegills, lots of them in the leaf litter. Also quite common were angel's bonnet, sulphur tuft, the deceiver and yellowing curtain crust. Among the less obvious were holly speckle, earthball and candlesnuff fungus. The highlights for me were a beautiful wood blewit, amethyst deceiver, pink bonnet, wood hedgehog, grey coral, oak bug milkcap and a webcap species with a particularly bulbous stem. A big Thank You! to Ziggy for giving his time and expertise on a tricky subject for us.

Place your cursor over the fungi photos below to see a caption.

J.W.

wood blewitoakbug milkcapangel's bonnetclustered toughshankwebcap speciesgrey coral

INVERTEBRATES WALK WITH SORBY NAT. HISTORY SOCIETY, 7TH SEPT 2017

We enjoyed a productive day, recording around 100 species in hedgerows, rough meadow and woodland. Although this date was later in the year than usual for an insect walk it yielded plenty of butterflies, bees, wasps and flies thanks to some sunny spots in sheltered places. A small copper butterfly was a nice surprise, and we spotted small white, comma and speckled wood butterflies. Just a selection of sightings include: longhorn beetle, slender ground hopper, four-spotted orb weaver spider, purple woodlouse, 22-spot ladybird, green shield bug, dor beetle, garden bumblebee, freshwater shrimp, and silk button gall on oak. For me, the star had to be the female southern hawker dragonfly which Derek spotted resting in a hedge - see photo. We were also on the lookout for an ivy bee but did not see one. These attractive bees seem to be moving up from the south so they may reach our area.

As always, hearty thanks to Sorby members and Derek Whiteley in particular for leading the walk and providing expertise.

J.W.

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