Blog Archive (26) Posts Made in March 2011
Thursday, March 31st 2011
These pictures from this afternoon show how the lake has filled up. The water was just about trickling over the top of the weir. There are maybe another couple of inches to go for the maximum height of water. This should be achieved by tomorrow.
There was a pair of Greylag Geese enjoying the open space this morning and this afternoon a pair of Moorhen were busily building a nest on the little island of phragmites which has been left behind!.
Thursday, March 31st 2011
This Curlew was seen flying over the moorland making its characteristic call.
Tuesday, March 29th 2011
As part of Eco Week with Richmondshire District Council today we had thirty primary school children here planting a selection of trees. The children really enjoyed planting the little Oaks, Birch, Rowan and Blackthorn and made sure that they were protected from the rabbits by the brown spirals.
Well done everyone who took part, and thanks to Jez for arranging this for us.
Here you can see how the lake has filled up so far. The reflections of the trees were clear in the still water this morning. The last of the boards were installed at the weir so in the next couple of days the water level should be at the maximum it will be.
Monday, March 28th 2011
Barren Strawberry is one of the latest flowers to be added to the observation board.
The lake continues to fill up and this morning the water was flowing over the top of the sluice gate once again. You can see in the photo below Colin replacing one of the wooden slats to help the water level to build up even higher.
When the lake was checked this evening a few more inches of water were needed to flow over the first slat. The toads were croaking and swimming over many areas of the lake and a Greylag Goose was investigating the small island.
Pupils from Alverton Primary school came as part of their Forest School learning and they learned how to use a bow saw to cut up small logs. They enjoyed being out in the sunshine as did many other visitors. The elusive Otters were not seen today but watch this space as the race is on to get the first photographic evidence!
Bramblings and the Lake
Monday, March 28th 2011
We have been extremely fortunate with the weather recently and today was no exception; it was 't' shirt and barbeque conditions which are ideal for the ringers - and the birds too! Ten ringers turned out and they processed 211 birds of 15 species which included 52 new Bramblings, some of them adult males in absolutely pristine condition like the one shown. A 10 year old Chaffinch was retrapped which had not been caught on the reserve since 2003. Where has it been in the meantime!?
Another Lesser Redpoll ringed elsewhere was also caught making 10 we are awaiting information on from the BTO.
Below is a picture of the lake filling up taken just before dusk. The water is almost up to the bottom of the weir, but none of the wooden lats have been replaced yet so there is more than another metre in height to go which will take several days. Visitors to the reserve reported a family of Otters playing in the pools on the wetland today which seems to corroborate similar information received yesterday. They were convinced that is what they were watching but this will be subject to further investigation.
Eco Club, Tap and Toads
Saturday, March 26th 2011
Eco Club met today, we talked about how the lake had looked last month and viewed the finished excavations from the new bridge. The children also watched a flock of 47 Whooper Swans fly over the reserve. The group learned how the weir and sluice gate work and that the water is controlled by a 100 year old pipe and valve.
Their first job was to help to turn off the tap so that the newly shaped lake can fill.
They accomplished this with lots of effort and with help from Brian! After many, many turns the water finally stopped flowing through the pipe, well done everyone!
After refreshments we went toad hunting and saw several different coloured toads in the ponds. The newly hatched tiny tadpoles of the frogs were examined too. A good time was had by all and special thanks go to Elizabeth yet again for all her hard work preparing the session and sharing her knowledge.
Saturday, March 26th 2011
Regular visitors to the blog will be pleased to hear that today, our Chairman Colonel Guy Deacon, has been awarded the Order of the British Empire in the Armed Forces Operational Awards List, for his work during the 18 months he was in the Congo. On behalf of all associated with the reserve we offer him our warm congratulations.
Here below is the last picture of the lake without water in it! As the work is now finished, the water gate will be closed tomorrow and the newly enlarged lake will start to fill up again.
Trevor and Darryl have finished putting in the bridge supports. They will be back in a couple of weeks' time to build the walkway over the water.
Moths at Last!
Wednesday, March 23rd 2011
This Twin-spotted Quaker moth was one of 6 of its kind waiting in the trap this morning. There were 85 moths in total of 8 different species. In addition to the one pictured here there was Clouded Drab, Common Quaker, Chestnut, March Moth, Shoulder Stripe, Yellow-horned and Mottled Grey. This was the first successful trapping this year thanks to a mild night.
The 'big dig' at the lake is almost finished. Guy and his team added some finishing touches to the shoreline today and will soon begin the remedial work repairing all of the access tracks. Trevor and Daryl travelled back today to start work on the bridge at the head of the lake.
Guy helped them to move the large poles that will support the new structure and link the new easy access paths.
Meanwhile, spring marches on. The Kidney-spot Ladybirds were all over the sunny and warm side of the Ash trees. A Comma and a Peacock butterfly were added to the list of observations in the Field Centre and a Water Vole was seen in a pond in the scrapes. The Frogs and Toads continue to amaze all visitors including contractors and fresh Otter spraint was also found today!
Flowers and Fungi
Tuesday, March 22nd 2011
As the warm temperature continues we've had another day of good sightings on the reserve. The volunteers were out for their usual work day and whilst removing a redundant path near the lake Brian, the self-confessed 'born rooter', found this beautiful Scarlet Elf Cup growing among some mossy logs.
Although it is a little raggy around the edges it is a good find as it is the first time this has been seen on the reserve.
This Glistening Inkcap is growing among the log pile opposite the Field Centre and looked like it was covered in dewdrops earlier in the day.
The Dales School students were fascinated to observe the many Toads mating in the scrapes ponds! Whilst there they also noticed that some of the frogspawn laid a few weeks ago has already hatched, and there are tiny tadpoles swimming around.
Ann noticed the Coltsfoot flowers growing near to where we were working today and, not to be left out,...........
.......another Brian found the first Primroses in flower.
At the lake Guy and his team have almost finished digging out the new lake. The next phase will be to install the new footbridge and boardwalk, Trevor and his team will be back tomorrow to plan the bridge footings which will be put into place while the lake is still empty. We're almost ready for The Big Fill Up!'
Toads on the Road
Monday, March 21st 2011
Spring has most definitely sprung! The warm sunshine has brought a flush of sightings today. Firstly, the Toads are out and about everywhere. Please be careful as you drive in as they are well camouflaged.
As you can see above the Frogs are not to be left out! This mass of frogs and spawn is in an isolated pool at the lake. The water was 'bubbling' with activity this morning.
Other sightings today included the first Brimstone butterfly of the year seen in one of the net rides, the first Chiffchaff of the year heard this morning, two Buzzards circling over the Field Centre and damselfly larvae in an another pond.
Weekend Volunteer Day
Saturday, March 19th 2011
At last sunny weather for a winter workday!! 16 volunteers worked in the new plantation clearing and tidying. This new area contains Scots Pine, larch and spruce and will be an ideal habitat for all kinds of birds from Long Eared Owls, Tawny Owls and Buzzards to Goldcrests. Several bird boxes have already been put up in this patch and are available for adoption. It won't be long before, hopefully, they are occupied.
Here are the group of volunteers having a well earned cup of tea. Thank you to everybody who came today, a great deal of work was carried out which has already made a huge improvement.
Below you can see the sunset through the conifer plantation and the moon rise over the reserve!
It has been a long day and there will be an early start tomorrow as the bird ringers will be at Foxglove for first light!
Saturday, March 19th 2011
The sun has been warm for the whole day and there is a real sense of spring in the air. You could almost smell the plants growing!
The Larch have put forth these beautiful jewel-red flowers which, early in the morning, get covered in dew drops. The flowers will soon be joined by the fresh green needles which are just starting to emerge.
From the tower hide you can start to get a feeling for the size of the finished lake, as Guy has taken away part of the large island to improve the view.
There were Minnows aplenty in the stream beyond the weir and Teal were once more seen on the wetland.
Frogspawn on the wetland
Thursday, March 17th 2011
Frogspawn is in abundance up on the wetland and is already advanced for this time of year. Hopefully it will be safe from any further frosts.
Here you can see that work is continuing on the lake re-profiling and if you look carefully you can spot the students from Askham Bryan in the top hide getting a sneak preview of the works!
Mist and Cobwebs!
Wednesday, March 16th 2011
The shroud of mist has remained over the reserve all day and is even denser than it was yesterday. As you can see from Elizabeth's photos visibility is very low!
The water droplets in the conifer trees are highlighting the spider webs, a sure sign that these incredible invertebrates are gearing up for the spring.
According to the Greek story Arachne was a maiden so skilled in spinning she made the Goddess of Weaving jealous and her penalty was to be turned into a spider and spin her threads forever! Even the prickliest of places can become a cosy home with a silky web!
Volunteers continued to clear brash from fallen trees and to remove hundreds of Birch saplings that were invading an open grassy area. The diggers and dumpers are moving earth at the lake again and footpath repairs are still underway. There will definitely be a lot to celebrate on the Open Day on the 23rd July.
There are still places available on the Saturday Workie Day (Mar 19), please let us know if you can join in and we will arrange for a delicious hot lunch, see the events page for details.
A Misty Day
Tuesday, March 15th 2011
The mist hung over the reserve all day today and at times it was disorientating! Volunteers were hard at work and cleared away trees that were the casualties of last week's gale force winds. A Scots Pine, two Alder and three Sitka Spruce trees were all felled as they had been blown partly over. The conifers were hung up and provided Richard and his chainsaw with quite a challenge. Meanwhile, the lack of breeze meant that John could try his hand at smoke signals!
Whilst clearing Gorse along one of the main paths several fungi and lichens were discovered. This beautiful Cladonia was discovered by John.
John also photographed these Juniper berries.
Work is continuing on the lake and some of the car parks are being re-surfaced so please be patient if you visit this week. Several Curlew have been seen up on the moor and a Buzzard was also seen flying over there. The frogs seem to be quiet just now but it won't be long till the Toads make themselves known!
A Surprisingly Busy Day
Monday, March 14th 2011
Despite a wet and gloomy start today the ringing team had a surprisingly hectic time. Several mixed flocks of Common and Lesser Redpoll were around and there were still Bramblings in reasonable numbers. Patience and determination with the potter traps on the wetland finally paid off and our young teenage trainees proudly produced from them a male and a female Moorhen as you can see below!
Total numbers for the day were 283 of 16 species including 6 controls (birds that have been ringed by other ringers at a different site). These were 5 Lesser Redpolls and a Chaffinch. There are still no Chiffchaffs, but the warm, sunny weather in the late afternoon will surely see them arrive before to long.
Saturday, March 12th 2011
Today saw a number of volunteers coming in to cut back the net rides.
Vast areas were tidied up in what was a labour-intensive day, whilst
other members were merrily up to their knees in mud and burning
off the previous day's cuttings.
Some others wallowing, though not of the human kind! This pair of Greylag Geese were
happily settled into one of the wetland pools.
Saturday, March 12th 2011
As you can see from the picture below the lake is once again empty of water!
You can see the bank profiling from this angle. Adjacent to the digger the bank has a shallow slope so that marginal plants can colonise easily whilst on the opposite bank the profile is more sheer. This area will be more suitable for Water Voles to burrow into or Kingfishers to nest in.
On the rest of the reserve spring continues to march forward. Bird Cherry is one of the first trees to break into leaf as this photo shows. The bright, fresh green is jewel-like after all the browns and greys of winter.
What a Difference!
Friday, March 11th 2011
What a difference a day makes! Yesterday the lake was empty of water and, although it was muddy, Guy, David and Eddie were able to carry on working, as the little stream which feeds the lake was flowing around the edge of the work area.
Siince the rain last night the water is flowing in faster than the water gate can take it away. The consequence of this you can see below. Guy (below) in the digger, loading one of the trucks with spoil.
The dumper truck made a miniature tidal wave as it left with each load.
David (above) on his way with yet another load of spoil.
The helical gear at the water gate was opened as far as possible this morning in an attempt to drain the water away from the work area. With luck, and if there is no rain tonight, we should be able to see a difference tomorrow.
Volunteers hard at work again!
Wednesday, March 9th 2011
The coppice may have been finished last week, but there was no rest for the volunteers today. Three different tasks were completed on this sunny, but cold, Tuesday.
Firstly, a team of three cleared up a lot of cut Hawthorn on the banks of the beck. The main body of people were meanwhile on the island in the scrapes, taking down the tall Willow stems left from last year. The island management has been a long-term task over the last three years to reduce the height of the tree canopy. There are a lot of young stems growing there now and these were left for the future. The Briar roses which were cut back last year have put on a huge amount of growth and should be covered in blooms this summer.
At lunchtime everyone joined in at a communal lunch to celebrate the finishing of the coppice last week. Thank you to everyone who was here today and to those who made or brought something to share.
After lunch, instead of getting a rest, everyone completed another job by clearing the Sedge Warbler patch at the end of the scrapes boardwalk. Well done everyone for another good Tuesday!
Tuesday, March 8th 2011
As you can see below the lake continues to look like a very muddy work site.
Guy, David and Eddie have removed tons and tons of silty mud to get to the head of the new lake.
As the saying goes “Things can only get better!”
A Quiet Day
Monday, March 7th 2011
At 07.45 when all the bird ringers arrived it was cloudy, but as the day progressed the sun came out and the sky was blue. It was still very cold. However spring is slowly on its way. Tadpoles were seen in the ponds in the Scrapes. Leaves of Cuckoo Pint and Golden Saxifrage were seen along Risedale Beck. More Otter spraint was found by Brian and a Great Spotted Woodpecker was noticed excavating a hole.
The bird ringers had a more subdued time with only 191 birds caught. As the better weather comes along and the days push out we notice the gradual dispersal of the winter flocks as the pairs spread out looking for suitable nesting territories. A few Brambling linger on, and much the same species as last week were processed including more Siskin and a two year old male Sparrowhawk ringed by Rosie. A Chaffinch born in 2002 was retrapped making it 9 years old!
All was quiet at the lake with the digger parked up for the day. Tomorrow the work will continue.
Friday, March 4th 2011
“Ne'er cast a cloot till May be oot” or so the saying goes! This was certainly the case today as it was a cold and frosty morning. Up on the wetland there was a pleasant calm compared to the noisy activity down at the lake. The ponds were frozen over again.
This Holly still has a few berries and maybe this photo could be a contender for one of this year's Christmas cards!
The frost added a sparkle to everything including the yellow Hazel catkins and the stripey Sitka Spruce needles.
Thursday, March 3rd 2011
This photo gives some idea of the size of the 'lake to be'! The shore will follow the line of the small yellow wooden pegs (in the foreground, centre of photo). It is becoming much easier to imagine the finished landscape as each day progresses.
One project ends and another one is just beginning!
Wednesday, March 2nd 2011
Day one of the lake extension works and what a sight/site! The digger began to shape the new shoreline and remove silt from the drained lake. Tons of soil were moved to another area by two large dumper trucks. Even with caterpillar tracks, the vehicles struggled up the muddy bank with their heavy loads. A reminder that this area is currently out of bounds but the lake hides are both open and access is via the path from the wooden welcome sign, the welcome shelter or from the scrapes boardwalk. The path on the opposite bank no longer exists!
Meanwhile volunteers were hard at work finishing off the management of this year's coppice block. At last the end was in sight as the final stems were cut and placed on the bonfire. This work has saved the reserve a huge amount of money as in previous years it has cost as much as £10,000 per block coppiced to pay contractors to do this job. This is a great example of how important volunteers are to the running of the reserve. The students from the Dales school also joined in and helped to cut branches and carry them to the fire.
Thank you to everyone who has helped out with this enormous and at times tedious task, we are very grateful and there will be a special 'coppice party' next Tuesday lunchtime to celebrate the completion of this task! All welcome!
Treasurer's note: As one of the few who have been part of the Foxglove project from the very beginning I would like to say that the completed coppice block is excellent and better finished/tidier than any of the previous 'professional' work we have paid for handsomely. It is a massive credit to all who have given of their time over the winter period. That, and all the clearance work that allowed the precision mobilisation yesterday of the lake extension, is testimony to what can be achieved by a band of determined enthusiasts. These things require drive and tenacity - and together we have done it. We will be able to reflect on your significant achievements with great pride and pleasure for many years to come. My thanks to you all.
Finally, our thanks go to Betty, Chairwoman of the Richmondshire Trefoil Guild for a donation of £135. This money was raised through a coffee morning in Catterick village on 23rd February. The proceeds were shared between Foxglove and the local Guides (£270 was raised in total). Thank you to all involved and to everyone who went along to support the event on the day.
Work has started at the lake!
Tuesday, March 1st 2011
Contractors began preparatory work at the lake today. The digger was used to move benches, remove redundant bridges and to re-locate several trees. This Oak tree was moved accross to the other side of the path to make an access route in for machinery. Where possible trees have been transplanted rather than cut down. Fingers crossed that these may survive!
The lake levels are extremely low now so that the digger can get right in and landscape the islands and shoreline. It has not looked like this since 31 Jan 1997 when the original excavation was completed and water was allowed to flow again after repairs had been carried out to the weir. The amount of silt that has come down from the moor has to be seen to be believed and in some areas the 16 foot deep hole has been almost entirely filled.