An Interesting Catch!
Monday, January 20th 2020
At the weekend, some of the bird ringers visited a different site where there are plenty of reed beds. The sunrise over one of the lakes was spectacular; the water was so still that the trees were reflected in it perfectly.
Most of the birds ringed were common garden birds but there were also many Reed Bunting. Here is the summary:
During the morning there was much excitement as the landowner caught a huge Pike. Apparently, these fish can grow up to a metre in length and can live for up to twenty-five years. This one was estimated to be around eight years old.
Weighing in at 32lbs, it was quite a sight to see up close! The colours were incredible; blue, green and pink.
Close up you can see how big and powerful the jaw is. Being excellent predators, they feed on other fish, frogs and small mammals or ducklings.
It was carefully measured and weighed. Photographs were taken too because Pike have unique markings that can help identify them as individuals. It was then returned to the cold water. If it is caught again in the future, it will be possible to see how much weight it has gained.
A Beautiful Day
Sunday, January 19th 2020
The temperature had dropped overnight so there was ice and frost in parts of Foxglove, but the sky was blue and the sun shone, so it was a beautiful day without rain and wind! Photographing on the dull winter days makes species and places look dull. The blacks and greys of winter change when the sun shines.
Initially I thought that there were no Mallard to be seen, after 18 were counted yesterday. I then spotted some hiding behind some reeds. Unfortunately I could not remove the reed in front of them. You can see that the male is standing on the ice and has a ring on his right leg.
Some areas of the reserve were free from frost whilst others were coated white. I was amazed at the delicate structure of these ice crystals.
There were also patterns on the ice on the Scrapes ponds and they remained there for most of the day, even though the air temperature had risen to six degrees.
Later in the afternoon the sun started to set and the sky clear of light, fluffy white clouds, foretelling a cold night to come.
A Busy Week
Thursday, January 16th 2020
A lot has been happening at Foxglove lately! Volunteers have been as busy as ever working on all kinds of jobs. Roof repairs to one of the stores was a real priority.
A second delivery of trees was collected from Thorpe Trees, courtesy of Bettys Tearooms. This time there were some large apple trees which will fill in the gaps in our two orchards. These require much bigger holes than the other species!
They included Lord Derby, Laxton Superb and Blenheim Orange. Hopefully they will provide important food for wildlife such as thrushes in the future!
Staff and young people from Northdale assisted with the planting after having filled some of the bird feeders and feeding the ducks.
Up on the moor staff from Sam Watson Fencing replaced old broken post and wire fences along the ancient hedgelines.
Although it has been a busy week there was still time for celebrations as it was both Elizabeth and Ian's birthdays.
This was unfortunate for the Reserve Managers as there is a new rule in place!
Monday, January 13th 2020
Along Risedale Beck there are two ponds that are created by diverting water from the Beck. In both cases the water gathers behind a dam and enters the pond through a pipe. The water is later returned to the Beck through a different pipe. The pools were created over twenty five years ago and due to vegetation succession they had become almost completely filled in. In addition, the old pipes had moved over time and water was no longer flowing into them. Recently, they have both been dug out and re-profiled by the Coxon Brothers.
Now refilled with water, they will soon become beautiful features and important habitats once again.
The muddy banks will soon green up and in the summer, with a bit of regular maintenance, they will stay full even in the driest conditions.
Most of the trees that were cut back around the edges were Alder or Hazel and these will grow new shoots and continue to grow in the future. Alder is known as the swamp-dweller or water-lover; the wood of this tough tree doesn’t rot when waterlogged, instead turning stronger and harder.
Alder is the food plant for the caterpillars of several moths including the Alder Kitten, Pebble Hook-tip, and the Autumnal. The catkins also provide an early source of nectar and pollen for bees, and the seeds are eaten by the Siskin, Redpoll and Goldfinch. These interesting trees are found the whole length of Risedale Beck explaining why the latter three species are observed daily at the reserve.
An Impromptu Ringing Session
Sunday, January 12th 2020
On the last net round, about 4pm, taking the nets down there was a surprise in the nets, a female Crossbill.
The light was going as we took photographs of this spectactular bird. They are rarely caught in mist nets as they feed in the tops of the conifers eating the seeds out of the pine cones and only come to the ground to drink. This one was obviously heading for the back garden pond. You can see the cross bill, some birds are right crossed whilst others are left crossed, which is ideally suited for twisting out the small pine seeds. In theory you should be able to identify a cone eaten by Crossbills! We have never succeeded!
They were last recorded, from the Observation Board in March 2019 and before that January, February and April of 2017. A very special catch.
Earlier in the day we caught a Greenfinch, quite a rare bird these days.
A slightly different angle for this photograph!