Saturday, October 19th 2019
Last week we were able to put the moth traps out on two nights and both gave successful catches, although some different moths each night. One moth was one of those that we all said 'We know that one!' then there was silence as we all tried to think of its name. Finally we remembered, with the help of the ID book, it was a Sprawler. Although common in the south of the country it is more local in North Yorkshire.
Moths do tend to 'stick' to their correct flight season and this is a great help when identifying them. When we catch one that does not then it is photographed and sent to the VC65 moth recorder, just in case we have the ID incorrect. A Green Carpet moth was caught on both nights and one was also seen on the Field Centre building. We could all ID this moth no problem, but out of curiosity we checked its flight season, which was May to mid July and then a second generation from August to early September. Concerned that the ID was incorrect the moth was photographed in the container. Of course trying to take one when it was released from the container was not possible as off it flew! The reply from the moth recorder was that this moth has been flying later in recent years, possibly due to changes in climate.
We take great care with the moths when we release them for photographing, trying to find a suitable place for them. It had rained heavily and the leaves were covered with water and some moths did not like getting their feet wet so flew off immediately. A fairly dry small twig was found to put a dark form of a Green-brindled Crescent onto and immediately it unfurled its proboscis and began drinking.
The Field Centre building often has a variety of moths on it and we found our first Mottled Umber of the season on the door on Friday.
The Fascinating World of Spiders
Friday, October 18th 2019
Earlier in the week, a member of the British Arachnalogical Society visited to deliver some staff training on spider identification. Jim Pewtress (aka Spiderman) spent the first part of the morning explaining the different types of spider that can be found in the UK (there are 680 species in total).
One way to differentiate spiders is by their webs which can be sheet, radial, tangle or hammock in design. The anatomy of the arachnid was also covered.
After a virtual tour of the spider world the team headed out into the field to catch some live specimens. Sweep nets were used in an area adjacent to the heathland.
Some with more success than others (better luck next time Gerry)! It was surprising how many spiders were lurking in the damp grasses and over twenty were found altogether in a short space of time.
The contents of the nets were emptied into white plastic trays and pooters were then used to lift the spiders carefully into pots.
Back at the field centre, a microscope was used to study the creatures in more detail.
A small glass dish filled with tiny white beads showed the spiders up well.
Identifying animals that are only 2.4mm in length requires a lot of patience and skill. Over half of the spiders in the UK are in the money spider family like the one shown here.
Jim explained the intricacies of spider identification; the males have larger palps than females (they look a bit like boxing gloves) and the shape of these amongst other factors is key to distinguishing one species from another. The photo below shows a palp of a house spider. The small dark object in the centre has a distinct hook shape.
This was compared to the illustration from a book to identify the spider as Tegenaria duellica one of a possible eleven species of Tegenaria found in Europe.
Our sincere thanks to Jim for providing a valuable insight into the fascinating world of spiders!
Thursday, October 17th 2019
With the sun shining, the levels in the cascading ponds were finally low enough for more maintenance work to be carried out. When the levels were at their highest, water had escaped along the side of one of the dams and the bank needed to be raised. Measurements were taken and then the team found some suitable timber to fill the gap.
It wasn't long until the wood was in place and perfectly level!
Clay was then used to pack the new structure into place.
The 'after' photo below shows the result.
Volunteers have been busy all week with all kinds of jobs. From recording fungi to clearing out the field centre gutters and everything in between! Cutting and raking has been a priority in between rainfall and today the reed bed was cut back from the path and net ride. It was more like working in a remote jungle than in the middle of Europe's largest army garrison; a refreshing break from studying Bullfinch data!
As quite often is the case, a small job turned out to be much bigger than expected when a board had broken in the boardwalk close to the lake.
Several repairs were necessary along this stretch.
Once again, our sincere thanks to everyone who has contributed this week in whatever way!
Risedale Rangers Return
Thursday, October 17th 2019
This term a small group of students from Risedale Sports and Community College have returned weekly to help out with various conservation tasks on the reserve.
So far, they have helped out with path maintenance and this week they assisted by removing the hay from a wildflower meadow that was cut by volunteers earlier in the week.
Using tarpaulins, tonne sacks, wheelbarrows and plenty of elbow grease the team transported the hay away from the meadow.
It wasn't the most fun task in the 'liquid sunshine' however, they got stuck in and did a fantastic job.
Making More Hay
Wednesday, October 16th 2019
An area between the hay meadow and the newly created Spigot Mere was a beautiful patch of wildflowers this summer. It was decided to cut it in an effort to encourage even more flowers to flourish there next year. The plan was to bring a quad bike and flail to speed up the process however, the ground was too wet after the recent rain and this was no longer an option as it would cause too much damage to the soft ground and there would be a risk of getting stuck! An enthusiastic team of volunteers decided to tackle the problem with strimmers!
Here is the before photo:
With four strimmers on the go, the job was achievable.
Using old fashioned hay rakes, the cuttings were dragged into neat lines and piles.
The 'after' photo shows the impressive end result, not bad at all for a days work! This would not have been possible without the hard work of the regular Foxglove volunteers.
After lunch, Carla, an intern from Teesside University, shared some of the findings of her research project with staff and volunteers in a powerpoint presentation. Later on in the day she revealed a hidden talent when she presented Bob with a handmade sign. There have been a lot of jokes lately as he has spent some time sorting out one of the Foxglove cabins which closely resembles an icecream van!
Thank you to everyone for giving their time and using their many skills so generously, it is all appreciated!