Tuesday, February 19th 2019
It was a day for fire experiments, and with an expert in Forest School with lots of tricks up her sleeve, baked potatoes and extreme bread were on the menu.
The twister dough wrapped around the end of the Willow stick only took a few minutes to cook, although it made for a rather hot experience, even with a long branch!
Our resident potato master, Brian, was responsible for the potatoes once again, to the children from the Dales School's delight. Our new 'Potato 2000' worked a treat once again to make sure we didn't lose any in the fire.
It was all well and good cooking on the fire, but it needed feeding too, and Ian was sure to provide us with plenty of Willow to keep it going.
A quick trip down to the new scrapes being created on the far moorland, and progress has been quick, with a large expanse dug over and scraped off.
Mud, Glorious Mud!
Monday, February 18th 2019
Just when we thought there was enough mud on the wetland, work has started on the new far Moor scrapes, as well as dredging out the current scrapes near the Field Centre.
The first job of the day was to lift two sections of boardwalk out in the Scrapes, to allow the digger to get through. The addition of three dogs trying to run across them didn't make it any easier!
The reserve could give anyone digger envy today, with four on site, there was plenty of machinery for everyone to admire. The first of them was a yellow one working in the Scrapes…
The channels have been cleared out of excessive vegetation to allow water to flow more freely between the ponds, and eventually back into the Lake.
Work has simultaneously continued on the Wetland, with a red digger this time…
A huge difference can be seen on the wetland after all the work. The ponds may look a little bare to start with, but a few months of growth will soon green them up again. We are looking forward to seeing which new inhabitants it attracts.
And just when you thought you'd seen enough diggers, an orange one working on creating the far Moor Scrapes! This will be a large very shallow expanse of water, which will be ideal for wading birds.
The ponies appeared to be enjoying themselves rolling around in the newly created mud bath!
Lots of Birds
Sunday, February 17th 2019
Ringing was in doubt, even as the bird ringers arrived at Foxglove. The forecast said strong winds and driving to the reserve the ringers had noticed boughs bending in the wind. When we arrived there was just a gentle breeze and conditions were suitable to raise the nets.
The numbers of birds visiting the garden feeders has varied very much over the last week, from being full of birds both on the feeders and on the ground to almost none anywhere. Net rounds returned many birds and the range of species was pleasing. A tiny Goldcrest was ringed. This is a male bird as can be seen by the orange feathers on its head.
Next in size was a Lotti - a Long-tailed Tit. These birds flit into the feeders outside the kitchen window and sometimes stay for only a few minutes before heading off again.
Not many Bullfinches have been recorded over the winter but several visited the ringing room. This beautiful male had a clean beak, which is more than could be said of some of the Bullfinches we handled.
And then a surprise, several Brambling were caught. These winter migrants are on their way north, having spent the winter here.
Siskin, Redpoll and Blackbird were processed in amongst the Blue, Great and Coal Tits.
Thank you to everyone who helped today.
Butterflies, Bonfires and a Blast From The Past
Friday, February 15th 2019
Morning mist soon cleared to leave behind glorious blue skies. There was a definite feel of Spring in the air, confirmed by several sightings of Brimstone butterflies. It is unusually early in the year to observe these stunning bright yellow insects. They were seen close to the lake hide.
Volunteers were hard at work with different jobs. Up in the plantation more brash was cleared in order to make the top of the woodland walk passable again.
Bird feeders were also filled with fresh seed. The aim is not only to give a helping hand to the wild birds but also to ensure that there are plenty of birds for visitors to spot from the main hides and Field Centre over the weekend.
With one hundred acres of habitat to manage, volunteer help is really valued and appreciated. A familiar face was back in town too although it is ten years since Trevor (from Custom Made Wooden Buildings Ltd) was at Foxglove to construct many of the wooden structures around the reserve. When Foxglove Covert entered the Higher Level Stewardship scheme with Natural England a large amount of money was invested in new hides, walkways and an outdoor classroom. A combination of wear and tear and the well known Yorkshire weather has left many of these structures in need of maintenance. Trevor travelled all the way from Norfolk to survey the damage and will be back over the coming weeks to treat and fix some of the features that he built with his team a decade ago. Where does the time go?!
Thursday, February 14th 2019
Team Thursday were faced with new challenges this morning and a break from the usual tasks of burning brash and coppicing. The recent storm had caused a large Larch tree to fall and it was hanging precariously over one of the trails. Sadly, it had to be removed as it was a health and safety concern.
In no time at all the tree was cut into manageable sizes and stacked into a habitat pile for invertebrates and small mammals.
The team then tried out a new invention, a 'potato crate' for the fire, something which Ian had 'russled up' after a conversation on Tuesday about losing potatoes in the ash!
The crate could probably hold enough potatoes to feed an army and will no doubt be a hit with the students from the Dales School when they next visit the reserve. It will also come in handy on the Fantastic Fire event when a feast will be cooked up on an open fire.
The new gadget was covered in ash while the team continued with more work, this time on the woodland walkways which were in need of repair.
All in all a productive and fun day, and in case you were wondering, the potatoes came out a treat!