Monday, February 17th 2020
One of the members of the Swaledale Ringing Group has just gained a 'C' permit. Not that long ago Eleanor was the youngest ringer in the team as she was only fourteen years old when she first came to Foxglove to learn how to ring. Over that time she has enjoyed many varied ringing activities such as ringing water birds at Teesside.
Her skills as a canoeist came in handy closer to home when ringing Black-headed Gull chicks!
She has enjoyed plenty of exciting opportunities with the group from ringing Storm Petrels and Peregrines to owls and hundreds of passerines. She has always been prepared to get stuck in, not just with ringing but with some of the important habitat management too and in all weather conditions!
Here is a more recent picture!
All ringers require a permit and start off with a trainee license. It usually takes at least a year to progress to a 'C' permit which allows you to work alone, but under the remote supervision of your trainer. Eleanor has taken her ringing a step further and is now studying a PhD in Fulmars and we wish her all the best for the future. Well done Eleanor and keep in touch!
Scarlet and Gold
Sunday, February 16th 2020
Whilst working in the net rides earlier in the week, some interesting flora and fungi were discovered. Scarlet elf cup (Sarcoscypha austriaca) was found popping up through the leaf litter. This brightly coloured fungi favours areas with high rainfall and can be seen on decaying sticks and branches especially in damp areas of the woodland floors. No wonder then that it is flourishing at Foxglove!
One of the first flowers to appear each year is Opposite-leaved Golden Saxifrage. The flowers have been described as forming 'trickles of gold' along riverbanks and streamsides in shady areas like wet woodlands.
Fortunately storm Dennis hasn't caused too much damage at the reserve, with the cascading ponds and dams all still in place. There will be some minor repairs to be done but nothing too serious. The wild weather over the weekend hasn't deterred many birdwatchers who have been delighted to see Crossbills, Redpolls, Bramblings and Siskins. Some were more successful than others. Lark and Taurus did not seem to be bothered by the stormy conditions and have been enjoying some extra rations to help keep them warm.
Net Ride Maintenance
Saturday, February 15th 2020
After storm Ciara came snow! This didn't deter the dedicated group of volunteers from coming in on Thursday to help with some much needed net ride maintenance. Over 60, 000 new birds have been ringed at Foxglove over the past 27 years and in order to carry out this important research for the BTO (British Trust for Ornithology) the mist net rides need to be managed. If the trees on either side of the ride are taller than the net then the birds tend to skip over the top of the net rather than landing in the nets and therfore reducing the amount of birds caught.
The vegetation is cut back regularly to head height and soon grows up again. Just like when you prune the bushes in your back garden. All of this pruning creates a huge amount of brash and as the net rides are inaccessible with a tracked shredder so a bonfire is the best way to cope with the prunings. Trying to light one in the snow with fresh green willow was a challenge but perserverance paid off and only cotton wool and flint and steel were used to start it! Thinner stems were cut with hand tools such as pruning saws and loppers.
As this job hadn't been done for a long time, some of the branches were too thick for hand tools and a small chainsaw was required.
There was a surprising amount of wood!
Slowly the snow turned to mud as the height of the surrounding trees was lowered significantly. Thank you to everyone who helped out including young people from Northdale Horticulture. The work isn't finished and will continue over the next few worky days.
It would be nice to think that it will be a bit drier next time however, with storm Dennis currently in full swing, this is highly unlikely!
Wednesday, February 12th 2020
Weather conditions were interesting yesterday morning for Team Tuesday! The recently planted hedge on the moorland edge had taken a battering from Storm Ciara over the weekend and the young trees needed to be re-staked and better protected with tree tubes. The moorland is the windiest place on the reserve and with several snow showers the only shelter was behind the Coxon Brothers digger!
It was decided that an attempt would be made at the work however, if conditions became 'really silly' then the group would retreat to the workshop instead! There was a lot of debate as to the definition of 'really silly' compared to 'normal silly' but spirits were high and Gerry kept himself warm with some exercises!
Fortunately, the showers were short lived and the team did a great job.
There is no such thing as bad weather just the wrong clothes; balaclavas, hats and hoods were the order of the day!
The two Exmoor ponies were checked and seemed to be in fine fettle. They are so well adapted to harsh weather with thick winter coats that their undersides remained dry in all of the heavy rain and snow. This can be seen in the picture below.
After lunch, the team split into smaller groups, some re-staking small trees that had been blown over…
...some planting Rowan trees and filling bird feeders. There were also many indoor jobs such as sanding and painting benches and chalk boards.
Thank you to all of the volunteers that turned out in such wintry conditions to help at the reserve. Besides Jo's delicious lemon cake there was another good reason to be thankful, the reedbed was cut last week just in time before the pond turned icy cold!
Sunday, February 9th 2020
Storm Ciara arrived at Foxglove. Yesterday the lake was lying calm, surrounded by winter colours, with blue sky and white clouds reflected on the surface.
Today was totally different. The brown flood waters were rushing over the whole of the weir. If you look closely you can see that the water had actually been high enough to come over the path.
Saturday saw the cascading ponds gently 'cascading',
but today it was a totally different picture.
The ponds were certainly not quiet as the water thundered over the dams.