Wednesday, October 21st 2020
Looking for something to do over the half term break? Why not have a go at our Pumpkin Trail? Come along with your family bubble and follow the clues around the Easy Access Trail (red route). This path is wheelchair and pushchair friendly. No booking required, just bring a pencil!
See the events page for further details.
Things In The Pipeline!
Tuesday, October 20th 2020
Many of the ponds at Foxglove are artificially made and are fed by water diverted from streams and becks. Routine checks and maintenance ensure that they all function properly. On checking one of the ponds off the beaten track, an issue was discovered and it soon became clear that there was an obstacle in one of the sections of pipe. To all of our surprise, it turned out to be a giant tree root! Once removed, the pond quickly filled to its usual level. Thank you to Peter and Gerry for braving the icy waters and pulling it out!
Also in the pipeline is a new Pumpkin Trail for Halloween. Olivia, an Intern from Teesside University has been busy putting together some interesting facts about wildlife and making some fun clues that will be put out on the Easy Access Trail (Red Route) over the next few days.
The clues will stay in place over half term so why not pay a visit and enjoy some 'screen free' family time in the fresh air. Watch this space for further details!
Volunteer Round Up
Sunday, October 18th 2020
Volunteers were busy throughout last week carrying out a variety of different conservation tasks. In some areas of the woodland, Gorse had almost taken over and was crowding out some of the specially planted native trees. Armed with loppers, some of the dedicated mid-week volunteers cut down as much of the unwanted Gorse as they could.
This then had to be carried to a central bonfire site. If it had been stacked up, the pile would have been huge! It was 'green gym' at its best with some people clocking up thousands of steps on their phone Apps!
This work will benefit both the older Larch trees and the younger trees that are still growing inside tree protectors. Small Ash trees that had suffered from Ash Dieback and diseased Sycamores were also removed.
In some places trees had become completely surrounded and would have struggled to survive.
Further along the Discovery Trail, students from Askham Bryan tested out their woodwork skills by edging the footpath with timber; quite a task on such uneven ground.
Down in the Scrapes, Bob found yet another wooden structure in need of repair; this time a set of steps used by the bird ringers on their net rounds.
This was much appreciated especially as it is on the way to the net rides where Redwings can be caught in good numbers. With flocks continuously passing overhead, some of the bird ringers (also volunteers) made the most of the opportunity and put up the mist nets on several mornings. It was easy to keep 2m apart and to wear a face covering but not so straight forward trying to read tiny numbers through misted up glasses!
So far 58 of these stunning birds have been caught and ringed since the beginning of October at the reserve.
Amongst the birds caught and ringed were several Goldcrests, Bullfinches and Reed Buntings and a couple of Continental Blackbirds. These are easy to identify as they are much darker, slightly larger and have a darker bill than the resident ones, like the female shown here. Blackbirds move about much more than many people realise. They disappear from gardens in September and October for two reasons; firstly, they will be hiding away to recover from moulting and secondly, they move out to the fields in search of food. When they return from November onwards, they are in bigger numbers.
Clare Simm, of the BTO Garden Ecology team, explains the reason for this significant increase: “Large numbers of Blackbirds migrate from Sandinavia and continental Europe to spend the winter here in Britain and Ireland. A few of our Blackbirds migrate too, but generally only moving within Britain, often moving south and west during the autumn, pursuing the milder weather.” Ringing is one way to learn more about these fascinating movements. Several birds that were originally ringed in Norway have been controlled (caught again) at Foxglove and vice versa.
Volunteers have also written letters to welcome new Friends, updated social media, resolved technical issues, identified moths, greeted visitors and much more. Their skills and talents never cease to amaze us!
Read All About It!
Wednesday, October 14th 2020
A sharp-eyed supporter noticed an article about our recent bird ringing surprise in the Darlington & Stockton Times.
Thank you to Philip Sedgwick for including a short piece about the reserve.
Sunday, October 11th 2020
A quiet area of the reserve, less visited by people, is the woodland walk on the Explorer Trail. In some places the route is difficult to follow so to make life easier, staff and volunteers edge the footpath to highlight the way. In some places, the edging has become a part of the habitat as shown here where the logs have become covered in bright moss. These will be left undisturbed.
However, in other sections of the trail, the logs have become dislodged over time or rotted away completely and needed to be replaced. In other places, logs were used for the first time. Old, rotting logs that were removed were placed close to the footpath to create habitat piles as they will no doubt be full of beetle larva and other important invertebrates. To replace them, Grey Alder trees that were struggling to grow below the main canopy were felled and then pegged into place using small wooden stakes.
There were two benefits to carrying out this work; not only was the path made clearer but the woodland was thinned at the same time (another advantage was less distance to carry the logs)! Although only a few small trees were cut down, the additional sunlight reaching the forest floor was significant.
It was a fun challenge to match the shape of the timbers to the contours of the land and the end result had an 'Andy Goldsworthy' look about it!
This habitat is especially peaceful and a very special one to work in.
Whilst working, the team found several beautiful fungi including this False Saffron Milkcap.
Other wildlife found here include Roe Deer, Tawny Owls, flocks of Coal Tits and Goldcrests. Why not explore this area on your next visit!