Posted on: April 20th, 2015
I’m just back from a walk on Stanton Moor. Always a favourite walk of mine, the views are virtually panoramic from the moor. To the south there are views of Matlock and Crich Stand. To the west, the horizons are Minninglow and the White Peak plateau and to the north, the Wye Valley to Bakewell and beyond to the Pennine moors.
The moor has big skies too and it’s always been a favourite of mine for photographing great sunsets and sunrises with wide vistas and brilliant cloudscapes. The Chinese venerate the land between the earth and the sky and I think they would like Stanton Moor.
With all the grandeur of a wonderful moor, it was the little things we noticed. It’s often the particular elements of the landscape that bring a place alive, animating the whole to make the experience a richer and more satisfying one.
Today, I had an eye out for bees, mainly because I’m speaking to the wonderful organisation The Bumblebee Conservation Trust next week. Not one to be too out of kilter with my audience, I thought I’d brush up on my bumble bees.
We saw 3 or 4 species, which wasn’t bad for an April stroll, although in truth I couldn’t tell you for certain what sorts they were, although I’d guess one was the buff-tailed bumblebee Bombus terrestris and probably the medium-sized bee with a reddish orange tail was probably a queen Bombus monticola, or the bilberry bumblebee. There were plenty feeding on the flowers of a willow by the car park.
Not bumble bees, but bees all the same and pretty characteristic on Stanton Moor are the mining bees and this afternoon we saw plenty of the cone–shaped mounds and burrows of the tawny mining bee, Andrena fulva. These fantastic animals dig deep in the sandy soils of the footpaths, creating the chambers where their young are raised. Unlike hive bees and bumble bees, these are solitary.
In the distance towards Winster, sat in the warmth of a sunny corner of a field we saw our small herd of melanistic, or black-coated, fallow deer, the bucks and does lying together, probably awaiting the birth of the first fawns. This small herd of about 45 animals is a relatively common site in farmland and villages surrounding Stanton Moor.
My eye was caught by one of my favourite insects. It flicked quickly in front of us, running fast along the rocky track in our path, with its markedly long legs and its distinctive green outer wing case with light golden spots on each wing case – the green tiger beetle Cicindela campestris. These are a sign of warm sunny weather and I have memories of their constant presence in the dry, sandy Surrey and Hampshire heaths where I grew up.
Details in the landscape matter. We’d all be poorer without the seasonality of wildlife, its variety and the place that it has in the land around us.