Wednesday, December 4th 2019
Washing up can take a little while as the birds flying into the feeders can cause a very good distraction. Each species has their own way of feeding. Great Tits examine each seed they remove, sometimes dropping those they do not like. Blue Tits can be quite aggressive and seem to spend much of their time chasing other birds away rather than feeding!
Carla is continuing to work on the bird ringing data and needs some photos of birds to add to her presentation. Consequently I have been on the look out for a Great Spotted Woodpecker, which have been conspicuous by their absence. When one appeared on the peanuts, the washing up was neglected whilst some photos were taken.
More washing up was attempted but he (the red mark on the nape indicates that this is a male bird) arrived back and sat on the fence. We all commented on his very muddy beak.
The washing up was completed by Ken - thank you.
There are Mallard on the lake and walking quietly over the bridge they can sometimes be seen on the tree. I think this female was showing off a little by sitting at its highest point.
Nicola has been checking all our mink rafts and putting out the camera traps. Unfortunately nothing has been caught on camera - yet. However she has found a perfect Otter print. It is most unusual to find the fifth digit in an imprint, but you can see it clearly in the footmarks of the first print.
Colin has been busy making more small bug hotels and bird feeders. (These would make ideal Christmas Presents.) Foxglove volunteers have such a varied set of skills and contribute so much to the reserve. Many thanks to them all.
More Woodland Work
Tuesday, December 3rd 2019
We have been awarded a grant from Bettys Tea Rooms, which is much appreciated by everyone at Foxglove. As part of the grant we have purchased some more picnic tables and more trees. The trees that we have chosen are those that will encourage wildlife. Before any can be planted, the area has to be cleared of Gorse, Birch and Brambles. Clearing out some of the trees will also ensure that those left are not overcrowded and have a better chance to flourish. Tuesday volunteers were carrying out this work. Peter was expertly using the tree popper to remove some saplings.
Once the vegetation had been cut so it had to be carried to the fire site. Not an easy job walking over uneven tree roots.
Armful after armful were carried to the fire site.
Lighting the fire was carried out by another expert!
As the sun set a group photo was taken of some of the volunteers.
Their work was not finished as they returned to the porta cabin to continue to repair the bird feeders. Many thanks for all the work carried out today.
A Mallard Tale on a Frosty Morning
Sunday, December 1st 2019
Mallard were leaving the shelter of the reeds at the head of the lake. Some headed onto the ice, which was thick enough to take their weight,
whilst some remained swimming in the open water.
After very careful walking those on the ice reached its edge and very gracefully lowered themselves into the water.
Spigot Mere also retained some open water.
Some of the puddles on the bund formed during the rain had frozen and made beautiful patterns in the cracked ice.
Ice crystals had formed on much of the vegetation around the reserve and this Selfheal seed head was no exception.
Coming off the moor and walking down through the conifer woods, the sun highlighted the frost.
The bird ringing team were busy today. Another 12 Redwing were ringed. Fieldfares were flying over but none visited the nets. Already it is noticeable that the number of Hawthorn berries is decreasing. A migrant Blackbird was also ringed, its dark beak and very black head were obvious as it was taken out of the bird bag. Also amongst today's catch was a Blue Tit ringed in the nest box in 2016, and a Great Tit from a nest box in 2017. Siskin and Reed Buntings and made their appearance. No Redpolls were caught but they could be on their way? Eleanor, a member of the Swaledale Ringing Group is working in Scotland and ringing with the Grampion Ringing Team. They are catching many Redpoll.
Many thanks to the bird ringers for all their hard work, it was a very good, enjoyable day.
A Good Frost
Saturday, November 30th 2019
After a succession of depressions sweeping the country bringing rain, high pressure has built and it is dry with rather low temperatures. This has resulted in a good covering of frost across the reserve. Carla was out with her camera first thing and recorded the cold, crisp morning.
The reeds at the head of the Scrapes looked white instead of their autumnal creamy brown.
The ponds were frozen.
A panoramic view of the Scrapes and a long shadow! Blue skies and sunshine.
Even part of the lake was frozen.
Bridge rails had their covering of ice crystals.
Blue Skies and Redwing
Friday, November 29th 2019
Clear blue skies were a welcome sight after weeks of wet weather.
Throughout the week, flocks of winter thrushes have been observed on the reserve such as these Fieldfare.
These along with Blackbirds and Redwing are attracted in by the huge amount of red berries. Hawthorn and Rosehips will soon disappear as branches are stripped bare by these birds as they refuel on their long migration paths.
A further eight Redwing were caught and ringed today in the hopes of learning more about their incredible journeys.
Nuthatch were also caught, these birds already had a BTO ring fitted, this is no surprise as they tend not to stray far from their nest sites. Ringing species like this is still extremely valuable as a lot can be learned about their survival and longevity.
Many common garden birds were ringed too such as this juvenile Robin.
A few young Bullfinches also made an appearance. These continue to thrive at Foxglove and can almost always be seen feeding in the garden behind the Field Centre.
A more unusual sighting was of not one but two Green Sandpipers on the far bank of Spigot Mere. Most of these waders go to Africa in winter, except for a few that overwinter on inland pools. It will be interesting to see if this pair choose to remain here over the next few months.
Thank you to Elizabeth for providing the photographs for today's blog.