A School Visit
Monday, June 17th 2019
Year 5 from Hipswell Primary School visited Foxglove today. Their activities included pond dipping, a minibeast hunt and habitat walk. Damselfly larvae, tadpoles, 3 Spined Sticklebacks and Pond Snails were dipped from the ponds. The minibeast hunt revealed centipedes, woodlice, slugs and earthworms on the now damp ground and under the logs. A very large beetle was found, but its name as yet is not confirmed. It is a carnivore as you can see from its large jaws.
Sweep netting on the moor saw many flies of varying sizes and colours caught. Very tiny beetles that looked like weevils were plentiful as were green flower bugs. A Common Malachite beetle (hope the ID is correct!) made a splash of colour.
Bees were also caught but released immediately! Froghoppers and grasshoppers hopped about. A crab spider took the opportunity to have an easy meal of an insect in the net.
So that the children could see other habitats we walked down to Risedale Beck via the ponies. Eagle eyes soon spotted other bugs and beasties. This Cardinal beetle was not camouflaged, but bright red, to act as a warning to predators to keep away.
Cucumber Spiders are green and often blend in well with the background they are on.
The children showed their knowledge of carnivores and herbivores, camouflage and warning colours. A hover fly was studied as it looked like a wasp and the children decided that this was to keep it safe as it would warn predators that it was dangerous, even though it was not.
Sunday, June 16th 2019
Flaming June failed to live up to its name first thing this morning and the bird ringers were pleased to have a hot cup of tea waiting for them as they arrived back from raising the nets. It was good to see that many Great Tits, 36, ringed in the nest box have fledged successfully, despite the wet and cold weather. Bullfinches were also in abundance. Goldfinch are feeding from the Nyger feeders in the back garden and 12 adults were newly ringed. No juveniles yet.
A rare catch for the garden net, was a juvenile Grey Wagtail.
The weather forecast kept changing with rain due to arrive at 12, but it did not. Throughout the day it was dull, then sunny, warm and then cold, but we completed CES 5 before the rain came down. Thank you to everyone who helped.
John was out and about first thing and spotted the Little Grebes having a fight! The male Tufted Duck decided enough was enough and waded in to sort everyone out! By mid morning it looked like a truce had been declared as the Tufted Duck and the Little Grebe sat quietly just a little way from each other.
Spigot Mere has recently been visited by a Shelduck, today it was Little Ringed Plover, photographed by John, another new species for the reserve.
We are not the only species who use an umbrella, this soldier beetle was hiding under a leaf to escape the overnight downpour.
Every Little Helps!
Friday, June 14th 2019
Thank you to all of the supporters in the local community who kindly voted for Foxglove in the Bags for Help scheme. As a result, senior staff from Tesco presented Reserve Managers, Management Group members and volunteers with a cheque for £4000.
Our sincere thanks to Tesco Catterick Garrison for this generous grant. This money will go directly towards new interpretation panels and pamphlets to engage the community with their Local Nature Reserve. In spite of the perpetual rain, visitors have recorded Kingfisher and Tufted Duck on the lake and were lucky enough to hear a Cuckoo calling loudly.
Ponies, Potholes and Perfection!
Tuesday, June 11th 2019
Lark and Taurus, the two Exmoor ponies, have done a great job up at Plover's pool but their 'strimming' services were required eleswhere on the reserve. They were moved to one of the heathland paddocks today in order to manage some of the long grasses that are competing with the heather. Catching them proved to be a lot easier than anticipated, thanks to Emma's carrot sticks! Lark was happier to wear a headcollar than Taurus (on the left) who took a little more persuasion to folllow.
They behaved exceptionally well on the lead ropes as they wound their way along the woodland footpath between the different habitats.
On arrival at their new field, they had a good run about and tested out their new diet!
They soon settled down and began their important conservation role; to remove unwanted vegetation!
Volunteers helped with many tasks today including clearing the moss from the field centre gutters, planting Globeflowers, strimming footpaths, checking nest boxes and fixing the potholes in the main track.
Another main challenge was the installation of over twenty new signs to remind visitors that dogs must be kept on leads. This was done with great precision and perfection!
Keeping dogs on leads is especially important at this time of year because there are many species of ground nesting birds on the nature reserve.
Thank you to everyone who helped to make this another productive day, you can see the difference that has been made to both the wildlife habitats and the visitor experience.
Bugs, Bugs and More Bugs!
Monday, June 10th 2019
Hipswell Primary School visited today. They had a busy day hunting for minibeasts, pond dipping and then heading off to learn more about the habitats and the plants and animals that live in them.
Out on the moor, sweep netting caught many, many bugs of various sizes, shapes and colours. Large and small spiders were caught, including this crab spider, so called because it moves just like a crab!
A lacewing was also caught and was released into the grass where a more natural photo could be taken. Once viewed its brilliant eye is remarkable. Lacewings look so delicate but this hides the fact that the adult and larvae are carnivores with large jaws.
Talking of jaws, when pond dipping a Great Diving Beetle adult was caught along with several larvae. The adult is quite capable of flying from pond to pond.
This photo shows those very large jaws. Obviously they are carnivores and will eat many of the tadpoles in the ponds, along with anything else that moves. The Pond Snail was a little too large for it to tackle.
As the children walked back to the gate they saw the tadpoles all massed together.