Blog Archive (27) Posts Made in May 2012

Late Entry!

Thursday, May 31st 2012

At the end of each month, the observations are recorded from the notice board in the Field Centre. This month the board was completely full with a wide variety of species. Over 80 wildflowers, 50 birds, 5 mammals, 3 amphibians,and 44 invertebrates including 8 butterflies (and the moths being recorded elsewhere).  In several places Northern Marsh Orchids are lining the footpaths.


A real delight to the eye.

Northern Marsh

Cuckoo spit containing froghopper larvae is now starting to appear on grass stems everywhere.

Cuckoo Spit

Sightings of amphibians included this Great Crested Newt which qualified for the May data only this afternoon!

Great Crested Newt

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Special Visit

Wednesday, May 30th 2012

Brigadier G K Bibby CBE Commander 15 Brigade enjoyed a guided walk around Foxglove in the sunshine taking in the main habitats and sights. The visit coincided with an interview with Angus Crawford from the BBC who came to discuss the green credentials of the MOD.

Special Visit

Pupils from the Dales School also enjoyed the sunny weather and a group from Richmond Adult Learning Service worked on the hedge outside the Field Centre by weaving cut Willow stems into the Hazel laths. Only 7 moths of 6 different species were in the moth trap this morning. These included Pebble Prominent and Purple Thorn.

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Summer Maintenance

Tuesday, May 29th 2012

Strimming, painting, mowing, monitoring butterflies and moving rocks were some of the main tasks completed by volunteers today. Helped along by Marion's delicious ginger snaps! Thank you Marion!


This beautiful Jay was captured by Ken on the beck cooling down from the midday sun!


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School Visit

Tuesday, May 29th 2012

The last of the classes from Firthmoor Primary School visited Foxglove today.  Like the other groups from this school their time here was spent on a minibeast safari on the moorland, pond dipping in the scrapes, and on a nature walk alongside Risedale Beck.

Firthmoor Primary School

The children were all very enthusiastic about the plants and animals that they encountered on their visit and asked lots of interesting questions.

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A Busy Weekend

Monday, May 28th 2012

Yesterday whilst the children were enjoying Eco Club the bird ringing volunteers were out again checking the many nest boxes on the reserve and training area. 

The area recently ploughed in preparation for the winter wild bird seed crop was harrowed and planted by George and Timothy Fothergill, our friendly farmers from Red House.  And what an excellent job they have done.

Harrowing the ploughed area

There were a few problems with some fairly large slabs of stone and concrete but these, too, were soon overcome.  It is fantastic to think that yet another part of the reserve has been reclaimed and added to the mosaic - with help from the Young Farmers' Club!

Moving the large slabs!

As the soil is damp and the weather warm we should see shoots coming through in about 10 days time.

Beekeepers were at Foxglove over the weekend running a course for people new to beekeeping.  The hive bees were making the most of the sunshine and were very busy.

The ringing weekend continued with CES 3, starting at 04.15.  As the bird ringers parked their cars and headed to the Field Centre they were entertained by almost every bird on the reserve singing!  What a fantastic sound!  It was cool and misty as the nets were opened.

Mist over the lake

Sunshine soon broke through and the temperature rose.  As most birds are sitting on eggs the ringers were not too busy during the ten and a half hours the nets were up.  Just over 100 birds were processed including a nice Mistle Thrush.  A surprise was a pair of juvenile Coal Tits recently out of their nest.

Many flowers, over the last few weeks have remained in bud but the sunshine is making a huge difference and new flowers are being added to the Observation Board daily.  Northern Marsh Orchid is just bursting its purple buds, Sweet Woodruff now has small white flowers amongst its bright green leaves and the first Dog Daisy along the 'Dog Daisy Walk' is wide open.

Dog Daisy

New and regular visitors enjoyed the sunshine, the flowers and the many damselflies hawking over the ponds.  Thank you to all the volunteers who helped and supported Foxglove over the weekend.

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A Bit of a Change!

Saturday, May 26th 2012

Last month Eco Club set out on their adventures wrapped up warmly, this morning it was suncream and sunhats - a bit of a change!   The Tawny Owl they saw last time, was fluffy and cute.  Today, Tony showed the children three Jackdaw chicks, not as ugly as anticipated.  He pointed out the large gape that the chicks have, that is put to good use when they want food from their parents. The changing weather, a warm spell, followed by the cold  and now warm again has meant that some birds of the same species are sitting on eggs, some have very young chicks and some have young nearly ready to fledge. Each chick received their ring.

Looking at Jackdaw chicks

Our next activity was pond dipping where we caught lots of tadpoles.  These tadpoles did look a bit bigger and certainly more active than they had been a week or so ago.  Unfortunately very little else was found.  A cross country route brought us to the path to the middle moor and the children soon found the Black and Red  Froghopper.  On the middle moor the sweep nets were put to good use.

Eco Club children sweep netting

Various insects were identified including a Large Red Damselfly, an Orange Tip Butterfly, St Mark's Fly, some flower bugs and a really good catch - a Scorpion Fly.  Walking past Kidney Spot corner with an explanation that not many were to be found here now, as they have gone 'walk about' along Risedale Beck, several were found!

A Two Banded Longhorn Beetle was spotted in the undergrowth and was soon in a pot for everyone to look at.  

Thank you to everyone who joined in and helped this morning.

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A Sea of Blue

Friday, May 25th 2012

There are many surprises as you walk around the reserve, the top end of the moorland is awash with delicate bluebells swaying in the gentle breeze.

This flower is one of the quintessential signs of the British Springtime, though is more commonly spotted carpeting well shaded and ancient woodlands.

Our native bluebells are a deep violet-blue with a strong sweet scent, also with a creamy white pollen.  Most often the flower stems nod to oneside.

The sunny weather of late has allowed people to really enjoy these flowers at their best and capture some beautiful photographs.

Bogbean in the Scrapes

Bogbean is now out flowering through many ponds in the scrapes.  These have an upright raceme of white flowers tinged with pink.

The Reedbed

The reedbed is looking fabulous and as we were walking along the board walk a Sedge Warbler was heard and seen perched in the new reed growth.

Many new visitors as well as our regulars were in today to make the most of the fine weather.  Brian spotted Common Blue and Blue-tailed Damseflies, the first record for these of the year.  Richmond C of E School made their final visit today, again enjoying pond dipping, a mini-beast safari and poetry walk; 90 pupils from this school have visited the reserve this week!

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Owls and Ploughs

Thursday, May 24th 2012

Some of the ringing team were out on the training area last night.  Michaela and Andrew had discovered the location of a Long Eared Owl nest after many evenings spent carefully watching the adults hunt. 

We were in for a treat as four chicks were carefully lowered down for everyone to see.

The owl chicks already had the distinctive 'ear tufts' that lend them their name.

Afterwards Kestrel and Redshank chicks were also ringed on the training area.

Ground Preparations

Richmond C of E School visited again today with their second group of students - playing in the dam was especially popular in the heat of the sun.  Also work began preparing the ground for the winter bird seed crop at the old skid pan.  Brimstone moths and butterflies have been seen today - the first time for 2012.

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Eggstra! Eggstra! Read all about it!

Wednesday, May 23rd 2012

For the ringers Spring is a frantic time, with nest boxes all over the training area to check before chicks fledge.

Some of the nest boxes in the Adopt-a-Box scheme were checked today, many having broods of chicks.  Some of these were large enough to ring, and almost ready to leave the nest.  Some clutches were in the middle of hatching with small naked chicks huddling around the unhatched eggs.

Boxes sometimes are used by other animals; today a Pipistrelle bat was found roosting.

This rather beautiful rotten old tree was spotted away from all the paths and is obviously a favourite perch for woodpeckers.

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Enjoying the Sun!

Tuesday, May 22nd 2012

The brilliant sunshine we have had here today has transformed the reserve, all the buds have burst and the last grips of winter feel like they are now long gone.  Working up in the woodland in the dappled shade amongst the butterflies and birdsong was glorious, the path edging has now been completed and looks great!  Brian especially enjoyed rooting around the woodland and has discovered a new species of ladybird for the site - the 14 spot.

John also walked the butterfly transect today and saw 26 indivduals from 4 species in the hour he walked the route.  This Green Veined White was seen feeding on Greater Stitchwort in one of the net rides.

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An Interesting Day

Monday, May 21st 2012

CES 2 and another early start and yes it was very cold, as usual!  The mist nets were up for ten and a half hours and regularly checked by the licensed bird ringers. 

Interesting information was gleaned from the data.  Most birds processed were males as the females are sitting on eggs.  Later in the day a few more females were caught as they left the nest to feed. Some of the Willow Warblers and Chiffchaffs have flown to and from Foxglove at least 7 times from their winter quarters in Africa.  There were also some older birds retrapped including a Marsh Tit and a Chaffinch that were both 9 years old!  165 birds were processed today which is the 2nd highest total in 20 years for CES Day 2 and these included 8 new Garden Warblers which have only recently arrived back.  11 new Blackcaps were also ringed. However it was also noticeable that Siskin, Blackbird and Reed Bunting were amongst those species absent from the nets.

Two birds rarely caught at Foxglove were caught, a Whitethroat and a Spotted Flycatcher (shown below).

Spotted Flycatcher

By lunch time the temperature was beginning to rise a little, and the insects were on the move.  Many were feeding from the spring flowers.

Greater Stitchwort with insect

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All in a Days Training!

Friday, May 18th 2012

Young soldiers from the Army Foundation College stumbled across this newly fledged Tawny Owl chick whilst out on a training exercise. Concerned for its welfare, they called to find out what to do. The owlet was in fine fettle and is pictured here on a 'man-made' ledge having been ringed and waiting for its parents to return.


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Construction Works

Friday, May 18th 2012

The recent high rainfall had washed out the dams on Risedale beck that feed some of Foxglove's ponds. Finally, the water level in the beck was low enough for repair work to take place.

Washed out dam

Yesterday Tony and Mike re-lived their childhood and re-built the dams by moving stones to create a new barrier!

Dam Builders

In no time at all the work was complete and the inflow pipes had a good supply of water once more.


It seems that it wasn't just volunteers who had been busy constructing with stones. Whilst working in the stream at least three different species of caddis fly larva were discovered on the underside of rocks. You can see two kinds in the picture below. The small domes of stones appear to be cased caddis from the family Glossosomatidae and are widespread and abundant.

Caddis Larvae

Other homes were found later in the day, this mouse nest was underneath one of the reptile refuges in an untouched area of the reserve, no snakes yet then!


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Eggs and Chicks!

Wednesday, May 16th 2012

The 100 nest boxes have all been checked and the results are very interesting. Whilst some contain eggs as is to be expected at this time of year…


Some already have chicks inside!


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Strimmers, Students, Speedwell and Stroopwafel!

Wednesday, May 16th 2012

At last, a lull in the rain meant that the strimmers could be used to tidy around pathways and net rides. Ken and Eddy worked hard all day to get on top of this huge task.


The main task for the morning was continuing the edging along a path in the woodland. As you can see volunteers were thin on the ground here (butterfly transects, flower identification and wildlife filming as well as strimming all taking place too) but Jack perservered and worked hard all day to break the back of the job. Wise old Gem the Border Terrier was happy to supervise! Here is Jack cutting some pegs to hold the logs in place.

Jack's path

Students from the Dales School joined in before lunch and hammered some of the pegs into place. They also felled small sycamore trees and gathered suitable logs.

Helping out

Several owl pellets were found adjacent to the path (possibly from the eco club Tawny Owl in the nearby box).

Owl pellets

By the end of the day the path was looking very inviting, it will be finished later in the week and maybe next year the winter forestry work to remove damaged sycamores may provide a layer of woodchippings to complete the look!

Almost there

Back at the Field Centre, the debate about Slender Speedwell continued!

Flower id

Bluebells are dotted about the whole reserve but those on the Bluebell bank at the top of the woodland are just beginning to flower. The area is packed with them and will no doubt be a fantastic display over the next week or two.

Bluebell bank

The Early Purple Orchids are out already and the strimming of brambles at the end of last year seems to have paid off there too.

Early Purple

Oh and the Stroopwafels? Well it is Hilde's birthday and she shared some delicious dutch syrup waffles, HAPPY BIRTHDAY Hilde!

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Cold Weather Continues!

Tuesday, May 15th 2012

Sun, blue sky, white clouds, dark clouds, rain and wind all in one day!  Due to this cold weather the insects are inactive and many who should be out and about during this month are not to be seen.  One bumble bee was seen today and one yesterday. Our hive bees are being fed with sugar syrup regularly.

Large Red Damselflies should be hunting across the ponds, only two sightings have been recorded this month, including the one below who was hiding in a Gorse bush.  Note that the wings are held parallel to the body.

Large Red Damselfly

Wood Anemone has been in flower for some time but they are now setting seed.

Seed head of Wood Anemone

Whilst the Crab Apple flowers are bursting their buds.

Crab Apple flower

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Windy Again

Monday, May 14th 2012

The weather forecasts in the middle of the week were all giving different information - but most did suggest that today was going to be windy and they were right.  Consequently there was no ringing.  However the bird ringers were out checking nest boxes, as they have been most of this week.

It was sunny but cold, as Sue, Les and Tom were taken to areas of the reserve where there were mosses, lichens and liverworts.  These areas included the fens, moor, willow carr and woodland.  Also investigated were the old willows and Ash trees.  Stops along the way were needed for discussion and identification.

Discussion about moss

In all, over 72 species of moss and liverworts were identified, with some small pieces being taken for final confirmation of species.  Several of these were new.  We look forward to receiving a list of all the species from Tom.  Lichens were also identified and again some of these were new species.  This Dog Lichen as yet  has no species name.

Dog Lichen

Thank you very much to Sue, Les and Tom who spent the day walking around the reserve and giving us valuable and interesting information and identifications.

Marsh Marigold is not a flower we see often on the reserve, so it was with great pleasure that quite a large clump was found growing in a wet area of the moor.

Marsh Marigold 

 By late morning the sun had disappeared and this beautiful cloud formation was covering the sky - it just  looked like bubble-wrap!

Cloud formation

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Come Rain or Shine!

Friday, May 11th 2012

Kitted out in waterproofs and wellies 16 pupils from Yarm Prep School visited the reserve today.  The bad weather meant pond dipping and the minibeast safari we had planned were not possible, instead we took a walk around the reserve looking at the life cycles of the animals and plants we found.  Smooth Newts, Kestrel and Heron were spotted by some of the children.

Yarm Prep School

The weather soon cleared up after the school left, Brian and Elizabeth took advantage of this and went out 'rooting'.  Many of the insects that were hidden away, sheltering from the rain this morning were out enjoying the sun.  This female stonefly was among their findings.

These insects remain in the nymphal form for one to four years, depending on species, and undergo anything from 12 to 33 moults before emerging and becoming terrestrial adults such as this one.

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Rain Again!

Friday, May 11th 2012

Lawn cutting and dam repairing were two jobs on the list today.  This is the dam that was to be repaired!

Dam on Risedale Beck

When the rain eased the trees, plants and flowers were covered in glistening water droplets.

Water droplets on Bluebell

Yesterday the St Mark's flies were to be seen on the wing over many parts of the reserve.  Today they were hiding under leaves and clinging tightly to stems and they too had their accompanying water droplets!

St Mark's fly and water droplet

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Tawny Owl Chicks

Wednesday, May 9th 2012

The ringing team has been very busy over the last few weeks checking the owl boxes around the reserve and wider training area. Some have already fledged and some are still inside eggs! This one was very sleepy but is healthy and well fed.

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Inside Out!

Tuesday, May 8th 2012

Kevin Horspool had a pleasant surprise this morning as he sat in the wetland hide. Two Redstart flew in through an open window and had a fight! Here is one of them on the inside of the hide, looking out! Kevin helped the birds by releasing them back outside. Thank you for the photo Kevin.


Thanks to Wendy for this photo taken at the Black Grouse Lek on Monday morning too.

The Lek

Volunteers have been hard at work today pruning back net rides, painting benches, clearing pond inflows and repairing footpaths. Only two Speckled Wood were seen on the butterfly transect although Orange-Tip and Green Veined White also put in appearances at other times during the day.

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Bird Song Breakfast

Tuesday, May 8th 2012

Tea was served between 0400 and 0430!  Tony then welcomed all the visitors, old and new, to Foxglove Covert.  He introduced the other guides, Tom, John, James, Sophie and Adam and explained how the morning was planned.  Each group set off in a different direction.  Although a variety of birds were heard singing and calling, including Wren, Blackcap, Song Thrush, Willow Warbler, and Curlew, it was obvious that the cold weather was delaying some migrants that have still to make an appearance. 

Dawn over the conifers

The sun was rising as eveyone returned to the Field Centre.  Those people heading to the lek followed Tony.

There were five Black Cock lekking, trying to make a good impression on at least one Grey Hen.  The Black Cock populations in the North East are having mixed success, but good views were had of the displaying males.  Also seen were Wheatear and a beautiful Woodcock sitting on a fence post!  Cuckoos, which have only just returned, were heard in the distance.

Those people remaining at Foxglove set out again and added some extra birds to their list.  However the highlight of their walk was the Crossbills feeding in the conifers along the moor fence.  Binoculars trained on the birds saw the adults feeding the young.  They eat the seeds out of pine cones which they extract using their crossed bills.

Both groups then met at Wathgill for a fat boys' breakfast.  Many thanks to everyone who helped with this event.

Later in the day, it was a little warmer and the St Mark's Fly was seen, some even flying, trailing their long hind legs!  A photograph was needed but they had a trick up their sleeve!  When the camera got close they just fell off the leaf!  Finally this one was caught on a tree stake.

St Mark's Fly

In yesterday's sunshine butterflies were recorded along with the first Large Red Damselfly.  Today very few insects were seen. 

Many of the flowers are remaining in bud awaiting some warm sunny weather.  However this Ground Ivy had opened some of its flowers amongst the buds of Wild Garlic.Ground Ivy


Although the day clouded over and was cool with a blustery wind many visitors walked around the reserve enjoying the sounds of the birds and looking for the Spring flowers.

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First CES of 2012

Monday, May 7th 2012

Calls of cows, cockerels, Pheasant and Greylag Geese met the bird ringers at 0530, on the first Day of the 20th CES (Constant Effort Site).  As the nets were put up so Song Thrush, Curlew, Chaffinch and Willow Warbler were amongst those joining the chorus.

Over 190 birds were processed including summer migrants, Willow Warbler (34), Chiffchaff and Blackcap.  Our resident birds also made an appearance. Some retrapped Blue Tits were over 5 year old and a Chaffinch was over 7 years old.

This female Grey Wagtail, possibly the one sighted yesterday, was ringed.

Grey Wagtail

Wood Anemones have spent several days hanging their heads but as the sun rose so their petals opened.

Open Wood Anemone

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May visitors

Saturday, May 5th 2012

Although there were frequent hail showers throughout the day, it didn't appear to bother the wildlife too much. The feeders were quite active and there were plenty of birds to be seen.

A Grey Wagtail picked its way around the water's edge at the top of the lake, and not far from the Field Centre a pair of Mallards could be seen wandering towards the garden. This is the female.

female Mallard in the undergrowth

Later on in the day, this Green-veined White butterfly was sheltering from one of the many hail showers.

Green-veined White butterfly

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Crakehall C of E Primary School

Friday, May 4th 2012

Pupils from Crakehall were well wrapped up this morning as they arrived at Foxglove for a day of exploring and discovering. In spite of the low temperature they found earthworms, numerous slugs (including a Leopard Slug) and a Two-banded Longhorn Beetle whilst out on minibeast safari. Sweep nets were a bit ambitious!

Sweep netting

The children soon mastered the entomologist's equipment and used magnifiers…

Nature Detectives

and pooters!


Over at the pond-dipping platform, the young enthusiasts learnt something new! This beautiful Great Diving Beetle breathes through its bottom! You can even see the air bubble at the tip of its abdomen. These highly carniverous beetles devour creatures as big as themselves (tadpoles, fry) and are powerful swimmers.

Great Diving Beetle

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East Cowton School Visit

Wednesday, May 2nd 2012

Key Stage One pupils from East Cowton Primary School visited the reserve today.  They spent the morning on a minibeast safari, looking at the different habitats invertebrates live in, and pond dipping where tadpoles, snails and leeches were found.  The children were glad to learn that the Horse Leech does not suck blood but ingests smaller invertebrates it finds on the bottom of the pond with its ten eyes!

After a quick lunch the class headed out on a habitat walk.  Detective skills learnt during the morning were put to good use as we dicovered tracks, egg shells and feeding signs of many animals who live at Foxglove.

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Away Day, Hay Day!

Wednesday, May 2nd 2012

A special trip for volunteers took place to Staveley Nature Reserve near to Minskip, managed by the Yorkshire Wildlife Trust. The reserve is a worked-out gravel pit, part of a much larger area previously known as Staveley Carrs, which was famed during the nineteenth century for its rare marsh plants. Carl Watts (Staveley Outreach Community Officer) met the group in the brand new car park and explained the morning's task. Piles of hay in the orchard needed to be moved to create one giant haystack in order to comply with the Higher Level Stewardship scheme. Here is the 'before' picture.


Foxglove volunteers set to work and began to move the many heaps of dried grass.


Two teams were formed, the wheelbarrow one…

Wheelbarrow team

and the trailer one!

Trailer team

The long grasses in the orchard provide the perfect habitat for mammals such as Field Voles and whilst working, several voles were discovered.

Baby vole

Toads also love this damp environment and were everywhere!

Baby Toad

This caterpillar (possibly a Square-spot Rustic moth one) was hidden within the hay too.


A Kestrel was seen frequently overhead, no doubt planning his tea! By early afternoon, a giant haystack had been created in a corner of the field.

Group Photo

There was time to help move some of the Hebridean sheep to fresh grazing before heading out on a guided walk.

Sheep herding

Our sincere thanks to Carl and Andy for an informative and fun day out and an invitation to the Staveley volunteers for a similar visit to Foxglove Covert in the near future. Thanks to Elizabeth too for staying behind and looking after Foxglove!

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Help Support Foxglove

Friends of Foxglove

The Friends of Foxglove Covert is for those individuals, families and organisations who would like to support the reserve through an annual membership subscription. Friends receive a regular newsletter and invitations to attend our various activities and social events.

More Details

Upcoming Events

Access to the Reserve: CLOSED

Monday 20th May 2024 |

Due to security and access problems the reserve is temporarily closed to the public except for organised events.

Dragonfly Walk

Sunday 21st July 2024 | 1pm-3pm

Guided walk around Foxglove Covert LNR to spot and learn about IDing dragonflies and damselflies. Led by county recorder Keith Gittens.

Booking essential. Donations welcome.


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