Blog Archive (26) Posts Made in September 2013

Conspicuous Caterpillars

Monday, September 30th 2013

The larva of the Elephant Hawkmoth is often found at this time of year as it searches for a pupation site. It feeds at night but comes up to rest on a stem (or in this case boardwalk) in the late afternoon on fine days. It has a striking appearance due to its size and large eye markings. It pupates in a flimsy cocoon just below the ground surface. The adult is an unmistakable large pink and green moth.


Our thanks to Chris for sharing her photo.

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Magnificent Moths

Monday, September 30th 2013

Vibrant autumn colours are not only found on the trees at Foxglove. This Canary-shouldered Thorn moth photographed by Elizabeth flies from late July to mid October and goes to show that moths can be every bit as beautiful as butterflies. Moths also outnumber the amount of butterfly species in the UK by over 40 to one.There are over 2400 species of moth in the UK, compared to 59 butterfly species.


Unlike butterflies, some species of moths can be found on the wing during the winter months. The Green-brindled Crescent seen below has one flight season from September to November. It comes regularly to light and can often be found by the lights outside the Field Centre in the morning. These moths feed after dark on Ivy flowers and overripe blackberries.


Another stunning moth frequently seen on the wing around dusk is the Brimstone moth. Some overwinter as part-grown larvae on the foodplant (Blackthorn and Hawthorn), others as pupae in cocoons on the plant or in a crack in the wall.


A reminder that there will be a fundraising event at Tesco in Catterick Garrison on Saturday 12th October. If anyone has an hour to spare and would like to help spread the word about the reserve please get in touch. As always your support will be hugely valued.

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Morning Dew and Afternoon Sunshine

Sunday, September 29th 2013

Morning's of heavy dew reveal a hidden world in the undergrowth.  Fine silken webs of all shapes and sizes can be seen.  Each family of spiders have their own particular web. Several different spiders were frequenting this thistle.

Spider's web

How long did it take the spider to spin this web during the night? 

Spider's web

The owner of this web may be protected from predators but it must be uncomfortable on all of its eight feet!

Spider's web in gorse

As the day warms up the dew disappears leaving you to wonder where all the spiders and webs have gone.  Overnight they will repair their webs and build new ones to catch their insect prey.

In the warmth and sunshine, darters are still on the wing, sunbathing on man made structures. (This is the quad bike track.) 

Sunbathing darter

Speckled Wood butterflies are also making the most of the autumn sunshine.

Speckled Wood butterfly

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Another Busy Day

Sunday, September 29th 2013

One group of ringers set off to the Crater this morning whilst the other group assembled at Foxglove.  Although it is late in the season for Meadow Pipits to be on the moor, they were there in numbers again today.  Over 100 were ringed.  Interestingly an adult was processed.  This bird had been ringed as a juvenile, on the moor, in August 2011.

Back at Foxglove the birds handled were mainly juveniles, most well through their post juvenile moult.  The Coal Tits are increasing in numbers.  Many will have bred in the surrounding conifer plantations and will spend the winter in Foxglove.  It was good to see some Great Tits and Blue Tits coming through the ringing room that had been ringed in the nest.   Amongst other birds caught were Wren, Robin, Goldcrest and Treecreeper.  Over a hundred birds were added to the data base during the session.

In the morning the children of Eco Club learnt about feeding the birds.  They made 'bird pudding' which was placed in containers and then hung in the back garden.  As we walked around the reserve, different fruits and seeds were pointed out.  Rowan and Blackberries have had an excellent year and these will feed many Blackbirds and Thrushes over the coming weeks.  We looked at  tiny seeds, like Nyger, thistle and Teasel and wondered how many of these some birds would have to eat in a day!

The children then visited the ringing room where they knowledgably answered questions about bird ringing and the different species they saw.

Eco Club in the ringing room

All of these activities could not take place without the help of many volunteers who carry out so many different tasks.  Thank you very much.

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Bat Boxes

Thursday, September 26th 2013

Volunteers spent some of their time this morning checking the many bat boxes around the reserve.  These are situated along Risedale Beck, the Lake and other small streams which surveys have shown to be used as 'bat highways' as they head out to forage overnight.

Bats were found to be roosting in two of the boxes, with evidence of bats seen in many of the others.  Mice and Wrens were also found to be using the boxes as nesting sites.  Eight species of bat were recorded on the reserve over the Bioblitz weekend, incluging, Natterer's, Daubenton's and Brown Long-eared bats.  We have a bat themed activity morning planned during half term on Thursday 31st October - head up to the Field Centre for some arts and crafts activities and to learn a little about these fascinating creatures.

With mild temperatures and damp conditions fungi is flourishing across the reserve.  These beautiful examples were seen today as we were checking the boxes on a fallen trunk across Risedale Beck.

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Wetland Work

Wednesday, September 25th 2013

Work has started on the wetland, strimming off the coarse rushes from the bunds surrounding the wetland pools.  Coarse rushes have become prolific over the past couple of years, not only here at Foxglove but all through the surrounding area.

The control of this invasive species involves brushcutting the bunds, before raking off the cut stems.  Good progress has been made today, with views from the hide into many of the pools improved by the work.

There is still a lot of work to do here, and a second cut will be made again early in the spring to help knock back any early season growth.  A regular cutting regime, over time, reduces the vigour of rush growth, eventually decreasing the total cover allowing a greater diversity of ground flora to develop and improving the habitat for wildfowl and wading birds.

 Volunteers completed the monthly flower walk, identifying over 40 plants in flower.  The moth trap was also set last night, catching 62 moths of 20 different species.

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Team Tuesday

Tuesday, September 24th 2013

The Tuesday team of volunteers were hard at work improving some of the many habitats found here on the reserve.  One of the jobs for the day was clearing invasive Bracken from around a pond.  Bracken creates a dense shade inhibiting the growth of plants underneath.  Bracken can spread quickly, growing from rhizomes underground; in only a short time this plant is able to dominate very large areas.

This annual job helps to keep the growth in check and over the years reduces Bracken cover allowing a richer diversity of ground flora to develop.

Volunteers also worked hard today weeding gorse and willow from the heathland habitat as well as dismantling old boardwalk sections.  The wood from which will soon be put to good use replacing some of the old bridges around the site.

Thank you all again for you continued hard work helping us to maintain Foxglove for all to enjoy!

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Traditional Skills Rekindled

Monday, September 23rd 2013

Woodcarving was one of the activities on offer on Sunday by the newly formed team of wood workers called the Foxglove Bodgers. This beautiful spoon was created by one of the group members.


Another highlight of the most recent meet was this 1st WW portable forge. This piece of equipment is over 100 years old and had not used for 30 years!


There was an opportunity to try out metal work on a more modern complete portable forge…everyone had a go.


The young budding bodgers were pleased with their work!


This group meets once a month, if you are interested in taking part take a look at the events section for details on how to book.

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Meadow Pipits

Saturday, September 21st 2013

The wind strength has meant that we have been unable to ring at The Crater for the last couple of weeks.  However this morning's forecast suggested quite a calm start to the day.  It was rather a shock to system having to be ready to put the nets up at 0615!  The moon was still 'up' as the nets were raised.

Spectacular clouds

The cloud formations made for some spectacular sights.

Spectacular clouds

We were unsure if the birds would still be on the area, however as the dawn broke so the Medow Pipits began to show themselves over the moor.  They are totally unconcerned about the cars and people and will land to feed quite close.

Meadow Pipit

There are pools of water where this one landed and many pipits use them to have a drink.

Meadow Pipit

Taking flight.

Taking flight



Swallows and House Martins also joined the pipit flocks.  A Kestrel was seen  hovering over the moor very early.  In amongst the birds caught today were two juvenile Goldfinch and a tiny Goldcrest.  Unusually two mipits already ringed were caught.  They were caught nearly a month ago.  Have they moved on and come back or have they been around for the whole time?  If only they could tell us!  It was also noticeable that some of the birds were storing up fat reserves ready for their long journey south.

At the close of play over 150 birds had been processed bringing this year's total to over 500.  The data is of vital importance as there are very few sites that catch mipits in these numbers.

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Friday, September 20th 2013

Over the past couple of weeks as the weather has turned cooler and wetter, sightings of butterflies, dragonflies and damselflies have all started to tail off, signaling a change in the seasons.  Speckled Wood have had a very good year, with large numbers seen across the reserve and surrounding areas.  One butterfly we have not seen much of this year is the Wall, Elizabeth was lucky enough yesterday to spot one (only the 4th or 5th sighting this summer!)


These butterflies like warm sun-baked areas with dry ground, so it is no surprise after the wet summer last year their numbers are down.  This example is a female which is larger than the males, and lacking the pronounced black band across the forewing.  The second brood individuals can be seen sometimes through to mid-October.  Caterpillars from the second brood overwinter, feeding in mild weather; they will spend about six months as caterpillars whereas those from the first brood spend around 5 weeks in this stage.

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Greenwood Working

Thursday, September 19th 2013

The group from the Adult Learning Service in Richmond have been continuing to practise some greenwood working techniques as part of a course they are attending here on Thursday afternoons.  They spent time today working with Hazel to create some miniature chairs and photo stands.

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Feeding the Birds

Tuesday, September 17th 2013

One of the annual jobs at Foxglove is bagging up seed to use in the hoppers throughout the year.  The seed is kindly donated to us by a local farmer, and is the waste seed and chaff from the harvest.  The mix this year is rich in oil seed rape and poppy seeds, which will be a delicious treat to finches and other ground feeding birds.  We spend over £2,000 on seed per annum to feed the birds; using this mix in hoppers helps us to reduce the outlay on seed, while still providing good quality food.

This is a dusty job and not one of the volunteers favourites, but many hands make light work and soon the seed was bagged up and ready to go into the store.  As part of this job the seed store is cleaned out, and the remaining stock rotated so the oldest bags are used first.

Also on the reserve today volunteers have been busy repairing potholes on the access track and opening up overgrown pathways.  Students from the Dales School also lent a hand in some of these tasks as well as clearing fallen leaves from sections of the boardwalks.

As always, thank you all for your hard work today!

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Otterly Brilliant!

Monday, September 16th 2013

Fern and Liquorice, the two Dexter cattle on loan from Big Sheep Little Cow have done a fantastic job grazing the wetland bunds over the summer months. Yesterday Fern gave birth to a calf and as the weather is turning colder it was decided to return them to their farm in Bedale.



Duncan and Lucy arrived with a sack of feed which the two adults were keen to eat. The calf however was hidden in the tall grass. This is usual behaviour for these calves who behave in a similar way to young deer and hide between feeds.


The mother was eager to follow her youngster back towards the trailer which made the whole task far easier than last year's when it took three or four attempts to finally catch the mischievious cows.


Liquorice had second thoughts when she neared the vehicle!


It took quite a bit of coaxing to encourage her to load.


Once inside the calf could be checked over. It is a heifer and is in good health which is good news for the farm.


Another young mammal made an appearance at Foxglove this morning. Two Otters were seen on the lake. An adult female with a young pup (or whelp) were observed making their way along the bank. Sadly no photographs were taken but the pair were unmistakable and very likely to be the same animals that a visitor reported on Friday in the same spot.

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The Back Garden

Sunday, September 15th 2013

The back garden at Foxglove is a mixture, with some of it looked after as a garden and some falling under the general habitat management.  There are feeders in the cultivated area and these can be easily viewed by visitors.  Jay, Chaffinch, Bullfinch, Coal Tit, Siskin and Great Tits, are amongst the different species who visit these feeders.  Washing up can be a slow job as the person doing it is distracted by the activities of birds outside the kitchen window eating nuts and Nyger seed.  However there is more to the garden than the birds.

A few weeks ago the pond received a very necessary clean.  Birds can now drink from it and already midge larvae have taken up residence.  The newly built stone edge will provide hibernation sites for insects and possibly frogs, toads and newts.

Delicate white blossom was seen on the Guelder Rose earlier in the year and this has been replaced by bright red berries.  Unfortunately very few birds eat them.

Guelder Rose berries

Blackberries have to be trimmed back as they grow over the net rides and the paths the bird ringers take.  However plenty are left for animals to feed on.

Riepning Blackberries

Wild Carrot only grows in a few places on the reserve, the back garden being one of them.  Once the flower is over the seed head develops.  It is unlike any of the other umbelifers.

Wild Carrot seed head

Butterflies have visited the garden during the summer as have the damselflies and dragonflies.  On closer inspection other insects can be spotted. 

Devil's Bit Scabious is flowering amongst the taller grasses and bees and hoverflies are still feeding from the nectar.

Hoverfly on Devil's Bit Scabious

Sawfly larvae were eating their way through a willow shrub, leaving behind skeletal leaves. 

Skeleton leaf

On being threatened with a camera they all took up their defensive position.

Defensive sawfly larvae

Hidden away in the undergrowth lurk spiders, only noticed when the dew highlights their webs.

Spider's web highlighted by dew.

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News Roundup!

Sunday, September 15th 2013

At the beginning of September the alarm was raised because a fire had been seen in the new plantation.  Volunteers were stirred into action but it was too serious a fire so the local Fire Brigade had to be called out.  

Fire in the new plantation

Fire being tended by the Fire Brigade

Thankfully it has now stayed out and with the forecast for heavy rain there should be no further worries.

Visitors to the Field Centre have been commenting on the migration of House Martins and Swallows.  Waves of them have been seen flying south over the reserve but the main migration is now almost over.  At the beginning of the month the bird ringers were roost netting in the reed beds nearby at Bellflask and at dusk caught Swallows and other species as they flew in to shelter overnight in the reeds. 

Swallows being removed form the mist net

The birds are extracted from the mist nets just before dark and once carefully in the bird bags are taken away to be ringed and then released at dawn.  Here are some ready to be processed.

Swallows in their bags

Swallows were seen flying overhead when the birds were released the following morning.  The newly ringed Swallows flew straight up to greet them and were given a warm welcome!  The interaction was amazing and they all seemed really pleased to encounter new friends and were noisily chattering away.  How interesting it would be to know what they were saying!!

Volunteers were busy bag packing at the Co-operative Store in Richmond today to raise funds for Foxglove. Some were busy packing, some busy blethering as you can see!

Bag packing

Can you guess who this is?  The frog was a little bigger than those seen at Foxglove, a bit greener, and made some very questionable and unusual noises!

The helpful frog

Hot from the counting house the total raised this morning was £256.14.  Thank you very, very much to all the volunteers who gave their time today to bag pack and support the reserve.

Unfortunately we do not have photographs to go with the next two snippets.  We have a Roe Deer on the reserve which is very selective and only likes ripe Blackberries!  Glennis and her friends sat on the road by the fence and watched as it walked up and down the access road and hunted for and ate the ripe Blackberries.  The green and red ones were left untouched!

Last week driving up the access road a Stoat was seen running by the Beech Hedge.  It was in very good condition with glossy red/brown fur and a dark tip to its tail.

Each day the cattle and sheep are checked and counted.  This year they have been a little more co-operative and their numbers have been fairly consistent.  Sometimes they are difficult to find as they hide in hollows and the more dense vegetation.

Sheep on the moor

This morning Brian reported all was well on the moor but the two Dexters on the wetland were making a great deal of noise.  Imagine the surprise when two of our regular visitors returned to the Field Centre with the news that instead of two Dexters grazing the moorland there were now three!  There had been another immaculate conception and one of the cows had given birth unexpectedly to a calf!

Brian managed to get this photo of the calf in the long grass being guarded by its mother.  It was considered unwise to get any closer at this stage!

Mother and calf

And finally some of Foxglove bird ringers have been out over the last two nights ringing waders with the Teesside group.  There may be one or two suitable pictures tomorrow  but amongst the catch have been over 100 Dunlin - including 2 Norwegian controls, Knot Ringed Plover, Sandwich and Common Terns, and some Redshank.  We are very grateful to the Teesside Group for their kindness and hospitality.  The experience is invaluable to our own team.

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Moth Morning

Thursday, September 12th 2013

The cool days and nights have considerably reduced the number and variety of species in the moth trap.  However there were over forty caddis fly in and around the trap this morning.  Unfortunately not a single one would stand still to be photographed.  

There was a beautifully marked fly that decided it would prefer the camera lens to sit on rather than a green leaf!.  Another aspect to macro photography!

Another aspect of macro photography - fly on the lens

This is what it should have looked like!

A fly

On the white sheet under the moth trap, this lacewing was found.  We thought at one point these beautiful insects were gentle and ate plants.  They do not.  They are carnivores!


Out on a walk, a gall on some willow was examined but it was quickly realised that it was not a gall but a caterpillar!  You can see three pairs of legs and four pairs of claspers. The oval markings along the body are the spiracles, through which the caterpillar breathes. Back at the Field Center, out came the books and it was identified as a Pebble Prominent.

Willows and Aspens, both of which we have on the reserve are the food plant.  It overwinters as a pupa underground, hatching out next summer.

This is the adult Pebble Prominent Moth that flies in May - June and July - August .

Pebble Prominent Moth

Pebble Prominent

Thank you to Glennis, Brian, Ruth and Linda who identified the moths.

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Hay, Heather and Another New Discovery

Tuesday, September 10th 2013

To promote regeneration of wildflowers on the meadow the area is cut annually. This year the cutting was carried out by a local farmer with his tractor and grass topper. Team Tuesday then stepped in to rake all of the grass up.


This was hard work but great exercise!


In no time at all a giant haystack had been created.


Students from the Dales School helped to finish the task off before lunchtime.


A good way to learn about the workplace and different jobs.


Whitfield Benson (photographer) took photographs to be used in the updating of the Foxglove leaflets.


After lunch volunteers began the never ending (but very important) task of weeding out the heathland.


Amongst the heather a new species was discovered. This tiny ladybird only 4mm long is called the Heather ladybird Chilocorus 2-pustulatus. This species is black with 2-6 red spots in a central transverse line and overwinters in evergreen foliage such as Gorse and conifers. Although found locally in England and Wales this species is in decline.


It was photographed on a willow leaf to give some idea of scale.


Thanks to Pat and Glennis there is a new quiz out today, the theme is 'Villages of North Yorkshire'. Question sheets are now available from the Field Centre for £1 each. There are plenty of winter events in the pipeline. The first of the Winter Worky days will be on the 9th November, please book in advance to help with catering. See the events section for further details.

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Around Foxglove

Monday, September 9th 2013

Plant and animal populations flucutate year on year.  There is rarely just one reason to explain these changes.  This summer the Peacock Butterflies have been seen in large numbers.  Ladybirds have rarely been observed.  Today this one was spotted hiding in a Knapweed seed head.

Seven Spot Ladybird in a Knapweed head

Volunteers painted all the seats on the reserve before summer.  Some may need to be repainted!  This wasp was carefully peeling off layers of wood to take back to its nest.

Wasp collecting wood from a seat

Over the years Oak trees have been planted by volunteers.  Some have also been 'planted' by Grey Squirrels and Jays.  All are doing well.  Some of the Oak leaves are now sporting beautifully coloured galls.

Galls on an Oak leaf

Although we may not want to admit that autumn is here (the Met office autumn is September to November) some plants are already showing their autumn colours, like this Blackberry.

Autumn colours on Blackberry

There is now just enough dampness in the warm earth for the fungi to show themselves in all different shapes, sizes and colours.  This one, which we think is Coprinus lagapus, likes to grow where there have been wood chippings.  It only lasts for a day.

A fungi coprinus lagapus

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All Creatures Great and Small

Friday, September 6th 2013

Colin has been working hard behind the scenes to produce another fantastic educational feature for the reserve. The latest addition is a wormery. On the left hand side is the control area and on the right hand side is where the worms have been introduced. The idea is that the school children will be able to observe how the worms mix up the layers of soil and leaves and learn how important these animals are in the ecosystem. The worm's hotel was carefully filled by Ross who harvested mole hills from around the reserve!


Out on the training area, the conditions were perfect for Bracken control. This helicopter was observed spraying this invasive species on the land adjacent to the reserve. It was an impressive sight as it wheeled and turned over the moorland. On the Foxglove side of the fence the Bracken is managed in a more traditional (and cheaper) way by volunteers wielding slashing tools or staff with brushcutters!


Yesterday's sunny weather also meant ideal conditions for spraying the sheep! The farmer came to treat his flock of Herdwick and Swaledale sheep in order to prevent disease caused by flies. The sheep were rounded up by eager volunteers and loaded into the trailer to assist with the job.


All supervised by the Belted Galloways!


Finally, a while ago Ruth found this odd looking form on the underside of an oak leaf. Roger Key has now identified this as a nest of Paidiscura pallens which is a spider. This is quite a rare find and another new species for the reserve.


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From Fires to Floods

Friday, September 6th 2013

A report of a fire at Foxglove caused concern on Monday. On closer inspection, an area of the conifer plantation was discovered to be alight. After raising the alarm staff (from both Foxglove and Landmarc) and volunteers worked hard to contain the flames until the Fire Service arrived.


The fire had started to catch some of the tree trunks but fortunately it didn't reach the canopy.


It is not known how the fire was started. The weather was warm and breezy and the surrounding forest was tinder dry.


Two fire engines were required to put out the flames.

It was thought that the fire may be smouldering away underground so the job was left open and the firefighters returned on Tuesday morning to check the site.


On Wednesday it had re-started and the team were called back once again to extinguish the flames.


Thankfully the rain today has helped to ensure that the fire has stayed out.


However, the heavy downpour has started to cause different problems. The reed bed has been flattened by the water.


With any luck the reeds may bounce back once they dry out again. The water in Risedale Beck is running brown, full of sediment from the surrounding area. There is no sign yet of it flooding but the rain is forecast to continue over the weekend so there is a risk that it might.


The usual puddles are filling up and most of the wildlife has been sheltering throughout the day.


Our sincere thanks go to Adam, Jez, Martin, Brian and the team of firefighters who worked so hard to save the plantation block and to Elizabeth and Tony for keeping an eye on it since.

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Request for Help

Friday, September 6th 2013

It costs over £100,000 per year to keep Foxglove Covert open and over £1,000 to feed the wild birds. The reserve is a registered charity (no 1197745) and relies heavily on donations from members of the public. There are a few events coming up shortly where help is required to raise both vital funds for the running of the reserve and awareness of it's wildlife. If you can spare an hour on either of the following days, please get in touch with Sophie or Adam, your help will make a difference to the wildlife at Foxglove. No experience is necessary, just some enthusiasm and a smile!

Saturday 14th September from 11am to 2.00pm - Fundraising at the CO-OP in Richmond

Saturday 21st September from 12.00 noon to 4.00 pm - Hudswell Village Fete

Saturday 12th October from 9.00am to 4.00pm - Fundraising at TESCO, Catterick Garrison

Water Voles and birds will benefit directly from your efforts! Go on, they're worth it!


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Hints of Autumn

Wednesday, September 4th 2013

The end of the summer means the start of Autumn habitat management on the reserve. Now that the wildflower meadows have finished providing nectar for the invertebrates the remaining grasses can be cut back and raked off. The small meadows at Foxglove are perfect glades and have been alive with butterflies and dragonflies throughout the warmer months.


At the edge of one of the glades this striking Orb web spider was enjoying the early morning sun. This large spider always has 4 white spots on it's abdomen which is very variable in colour. In this case bright orange.


Variety in colour is also seen in other species such as Common Toad. This pale one was observed this morning in the car park.


Autumn moths are beginning to appear in the weekly trapping session. This species (Autumnal Rustic) has one flight season from August to October and comes to light and flowers, particularly heather.


In total 45 moths of 16 species were identified. Frosted Orange, Dun Bar, Flame Carpet and Sallow were amongt the catch.

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All in a Days Work

Tuesday, September 3rd 2013

The move to the new conservation store off site was completed this morning by Team Tuesday who helped to load and unload the trailer with Foxglove equipment. This has been a huge task and has only been made possible by the many hours put in by volunteers.

Back at the reserve, volunteers were also hard at work re-building a dam that feeds an important wildlife pond. Stones and clay were piled up to create a header pool to feed an inflow pipe.


The completed dam was a success and the water level in the pond will soon be restored to its usual height.


After lunch, the reeds that were pulled out last week up on the wetland were removed.


Some of the younger members worked so hard that they will be going back to school for a rest later in the week!


This work has made a great difference to the ponds and the benefits will be clear in the spring.


Our thanks go to all 26 volunteers who made today's tasks possible.

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The Day of the Dragons!

Tuesday, September 3rd 2013

We have watched the dragons (dragonflies) over the last few weeks.  They have been flying up and down sunny glades, hunting for food over the ponds and have even been seen flying along Risedale Beck.  Photographs have just not been possible!  They would not remain still at all!  Today in the very windy but warm conditons they have settled.

This Southern Hawker was seen on the steps heading to the heathland.  At one point, having done a circuit, he returned to the sunshine and was eating his prey.

Southern Hawker

Having landed briefly on one of the volunteers he later landed on Brian's glasses and could actually be heard eating!

On a quiet stroll through the Scrapes a stop was made to see if the Water Vole was there. It wasn't - but another Southern Hawker was! Cameras and binoculars to the ready once again!

Looking at the dragon!

A female landed on the mink raft and began laying eggs.  She carefully felt the wood to find the softest place to insert them. On checking information later, this species deposits its eggs in rotting wood and vegetation.  They do not hatch until the following spring and spend a year in the water before emerging as adults.

Egg laying female hawker dragon!

Even in the wind there were butterflies to be seen; Comma, Red Admiral, Peacock, Small Tortoiseshell and Speckled Wood were all dancing in the sunshine.

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CES 2013

Sunday, September 1st 2013

It is always known when CES takes place as the blog begins with a sunrise photograph!  Ringers arrive at dawn and the nets are put up as the sun rises.

Sunrise over the Scrapes

CES begins in May each year and finishes in August.  We see spring turn into summer and then into late summer.  Summer migrants begin to make their appearance in the ringing room.  Bugle was providing food for the bees during May.


Midsummer saw the Dog Roses in bloom.

Dog Rose

Juvenile birds are welcomed and we also see birds that have been ringed in the nest boxes.  Robins hatched this year are now sporting patchy red coloured breasts, unlike this one, taken earlier in the year, which is speckled brown. They will soon look like Robins on our Christmas cards!

Juvenile Robin

And now the Mountain Ash (Rowan) are heavily covered with bright red berries and Blackbirds are feasting on them!

Mountain Ash (Rowan)

In the ringing room the birds are processed, much discussion takes place as questions are asked and trainee bird ringers are supported.

Discussion about the birds

 Visitors are always welcome to see what we are doing and the ringers explain what is happening and how and why we process the birds.  Many are amazed at the age of some of the birds and distances they have travelled.  Under supervsion children and adults are allowed to release the birds and it is an experience they will never forget.

Telling people about bird ringing

CES is over for another year and with the help of our computer programme the data collected will soon be sent to the BTO for analysis.  Starting times may be a little later now but there is still plenty of bird ringing to do as we record the last of the summer migrants and await the arrival of the winter species. The young birds will complete their post-juvenile moult and adult birds who have spent some time hiding during their own moult will, in many cases, head for warmer climes where they will spend our winter.

Rather than write a comment today, as not everyone understands where to read them, I would like to add a short PS to the CES blog and hope the non ringers will bear with me.  To have fulfilled 252 sessions of ten and a half hours over 21 years without missing a single visit, as described yesterday, really is a remarkable achievement.  During that period 40,074 birds have been processed over 2646 hours!  Often I read of other CES sites ringing between 5 and 20 birds during a CES day.  Our site produces an average over every single visit of at least 159 birds or put another way a guaranteed 15 birds per hour come rain, hail, shine or unwelcome wind, start to finish.  Our best year was 2011 when 2584 birds were processed during the CES season; our worst was in 1994 with only 1279 - and remember the net rides, nets, dates and hours worked have all been constant throughout.  This year, with a total of 2109 birds, was the 8th best out of 21. 

I am hugely indebted to all ringers who have contributed, often during incredibly unsocial hours and sometimes in really unpleasant weather, while the CES programme has been running at Foxglove.  Together, and with all levels of experience, they have done a superb job.  But equally I am indebted to Elizabeth, our permanent scribe who inputs much of the data, to Sophie and Adam who as Reserve Managers have ensured all the net rides have been programmed in for consistent attention over the season, to our outstanding volunteer squad who week after week prune and mow our rides almost clinically, which is a wonderful bonus for any CES site (and here I include in particular Ken and Eddy, Mike and Tony and many others too who have kept the site immaculate), and the wonderful team of ladies who support our efforts endlessly with sticky buns, home made cakes, hundreds of cups of tea and invaluable assistance of all sorts in the ringing room.  CES at Foxglove is a team working.

Finally, on a personal note, can I mention a lady none of you will know called Mary Catling, who has never set foot in Foxglove but who avidly reads your blog every day from her home in Suffolk.  She is not terribly well, and endless times she has told me just how much the blog cheers her up and how valuable she finds the photos, the banter, and the incredibly varied activities of our volunteers.  Long may you continue to enjoy it Mary, hang in there, and I know the entire team will be happy to know you are keeping an over-watch from a distance! 

A whole 8 months till CES begins again!  My thanks to you all for an outstanding achievement.

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CES 12

Sunday, September 1st 2013

CES 12 took place today, the final CES ringing day of the season. Over 170 birds were processed including Goldcrest, a bird that has not been seen very much during the last few months as a result of the cold, snowy spring.  Pleasingly today's Goldcrests were all birds hatched this year. Many Lesser Redpolls were caught earlier in the year but over the breeding season they too have been scarce.  Today the first juvenile from 2013 was ringed.  Coal Tits spend the summer in the conifer woodlands around Foxglove but as autumn approaches they return to our feeders and it was noticeable by late afternnon that numbers were increasing.  A young Kingfisher was also ringed and sat very quietly whilst having her photograph taken.


This is the 21st year of CES at Foxglove so by the end of the day 252 CES days, each of ten and a half hours, had been completed without missing a single one!  Over 40,000 birds have been ringed during the Foxglove CES and all this data has been sent to the BTO (British Trust for Ornithology) for statistical analysis.  It is a fantastic achievement and many, many thanks go to everyone who has been involved over the years.  A more detailed summary will be produced for the blog within the next few days.

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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.

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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.

Wildflower Walk

Sunday 30th June 2024 | 10am-12:30pm

Enjoy a guided walk around Foxglove Covert to admire and learn about the beautiful wildflowers that can be seen throughout the reserve.

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The walk will start from the Field Centre at 10am.


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