Blog Archive (27) Posts Made in September 2014
Tuesday, September 30th 2014
The full story of Foxglove's 'Valiant Volunteers' will be reported on tomorrow's blog. Suffice to say they cut and moved Gorse, removed the reeds from the pond clearance, strimmed the paths, carried out the last butterfly survey of the year and er um helped with the cattle! Making tea and washing up were also on the list! A huge thank you to everyone who helped during today with so many jobs. Your work and support are really, really appreciated.
The Dales School visited and went minibeast hunting. They found earthworms, woodlice, slugs and tiny spiders, all of which were examined using magnifying glasses. More of the unknown insect that was shown on the blog on Saturday were also found. We now think this is the larva of a lacewing.
Common Darters were flying and resting in the sunshine for the children to see.
Hints of Autumn
Monday, September 29th 2014
Moorhen, Little Grebe and Mallard were on the lake today. The Mallard are beginning to rest on the duck raft, so hopefully next year they may use it for nesting.
There were several Mallard sitting quietly on the water, some were preening, but one female was bathing! Water was going everywhere! Needless to say the other Mallard steered well clear of her!
Around the reserve autumn colours are beginning to appear. The Spindle fruits are red. We are hoping they will burst and show their orange seeds.
Sycamore trees along the Sycamore Avenue are just changing colour.
Devil's Bit Scabious, Fleabane and Hemp Agrimony are amongst flowers still in bloom, but their colours are not so vibrant as they were earlier in the summer. However, sometimes something catches your eye. Some Red Poppies.
Totals for ringing at the Crater have been added up and now stand at 1462 Mipits + 15 retraps, and 43 other birds of 11 species. This data will be added to the species list, of over 100 species, recorded earlier in the summer. Thank you to everyone who has helped with all of this work.
And finally - volunteers - tomorrow we will be back up at the wetland. There are a number of jobs to be done including moving the vegetation we took out of the ponds last week and there is still some pond clearance to be carried out. Gorse needs to be removed from the perimeter fence. Wellies and clothes you don't mind getting mucky are recommended!
Reed Bed and Ringing
Sunday, September 28th 2014
No, ringing was not taking place in the reed bed today, that will be carried out later in the year, when the Reed Buntings use the reeds to roost overnight, to gain protection from predators. Over the last few years the reed bed has been cut and since then it has thrived. Two good growing seasons have helped.
The reeds look fantastic against a blue sky.
On dry days, the rustling of the reeds is a backdrop to birds calling and sometimes the cheep of a Moorhen. On damp days, to put it simply, walking along the boardwalk through the reeds, everyone gets wet!
As the reeds begin to flower they are purple in colour.
Over the last week the flowers have turned lighter? paler? less purple? and certainly more fluffy! There is a reason for this - the reed flowers are showing their stamens and stigmas. Reeds are wind pollinated. In the photograph below you can see the pale lemon anthers, that produce the pollen. Anthers are attached to the filament at their mid point so allowing the anther to move freely in gentle breezes releasing the pollen. The stigmas have many tiny sticky hairs around them to enable them to catch the pollen.
The bird ringers have been at the Crater during the week and were there again this morning. Today more adult Mipits in bigger numbers were caught. Most of the birds have finished their moult, and the number putting on fat ready for migration has increased significantly, suggesting that numbers locally will drop off fairly soon as they continue to move south. Another 244 Mipits have been ringed. Also making a show was a Sparrowhawk
and a Snipe.
Autumn Eco Club
Saturday, September 27th 2014
Autumn has arrived at Foxglove and Eco Club children set out this morning to see what was out and about in the sunshine and to look at fruits and seeds. Speckled Wood, Red Admiral and Small Tortoiseshell Butterflies were all on the wing. Common Darters were flying in the sunshine.
Some of the trees were given a good shake and tiny spiders and flies appeared on the sheet, along with harvestman and a single Orange Ladybird. However there were then some other insects. Several of these sawfly larvae appeared out of the Italian Alder. Although the species is not known, it is quite possibly linked to the Alder trees. It is a sawfly larva and not a butterfly or moth caterpillar because there is no space between its front three pair of legs and the claspers, which are all along its body.
The next invertebrate to be looked at was this tiny insect. ID completely unknown! On enlarging the phtotograph it was seen to have rather a good set of 'fangs', probably used to catch other insects. They look too formidable to be used to suck plant juices. Camouflage and protection are obviously important as it has built itself a 'coat'!
By now observing seeds and fruits was fairly low down the list of things to look for! So our next find was a spider on the new pools. Initially it was thought to be a Raft Spider (one has been found on the lake) but it does not have the right markings.
A Buzzard overhead and a Grey Wagtail on the new pools, did not compare with all the bugs! Some fruits and seeds were looked at but everyone kept their eyes open for more invertebrates!
Thank you to everyone who helped this morning to make our autumn walk a good bug hunt!
Sunshine at Foxglove
Friday, September 26th 2014
The sun has been shining at Foxglove today which has brought our butterflies and dragonflies out again in large numbers. Common Darter, Emperor and Southern Hawker dragonflies have been seen today.
Lots of Speckled Wood butterflies are taking the opportunity to catch a bit of sunshine.
There have also been a number of Red Admiral butterflies spotted around the reserve.
Yesterday we welcomed Hipswell primary school year 2 children to Foxglove. We had a fun and busy morning doing; natural art, mini beast hunting and pond dipping. After a well-deserved lunch break the children went out on a find and seek walk discovering some of the flora and fauna around Foxglove. We would like to thank all the volunteers who made this a really successful day.
Whilst we were busy with the children in the morning the Thursday volunteers got stuck into the heath again and got another good patch cleared of invasive species.
In the afternoon the volunteers had a fire to dispose of the invasive vegetation that had been removed from the heath over the last few weeks.
It was another day of hard work but a lot was achieved so a massive thank you to all involved.
A Special Vist
Friday, September 26th 2014
On Tuesday, Sophie (Chairperson), Brigadier Frank Noble (Comd Service Delivery/Training Worldwide), The Marquess of Zetland (Patron), and Lieutenant Colonel Mark Holden (Comd Service Delivery/Training UK North) met in the Field Centre to discuss possible resolutions to the access conundrum.
Pond Clearance Part 2
Wednesday, September 24th 2014
Yesterday we continued the work we started a couple of weeks ago removing the vegetation from ponds on the wetland. Matt and Laura, in waders went into the middle of the ponds clearing what couldn’t be reached with rakes.
The other volunteers worked at the pond fringes raking out the reeds and removed the piles of vegetation from the last time we worked in the ponds. Everything that was removed from the ponds yesterday has been piled at the banksides where it will stay for a few days to allow any creatures that got caught up in it to find their way back to the ponds. We now have two ponds with significant amounts of open water to encourage their use by wetland birds.
After a lunch of treats baked by Anne (including an amazing date and walnut cake) we changed tack a little and went down to the lake hide where we cleared the views to the bird feeders. This involved the felling of a willow, pruning a massive Buddleia and the removal of a number of assorted ‘spikey things’. The view is now uninterrupted from hide to feeders so we hope to see you down there with your binoculars in hand sometime soon.
It was a good day’s work and a lot was achieved improving two areas of the reserve so our sincerest thanks to everyone involved.
This morning we had our weekly moth count and even though it is getting quite late on in the year due to reasonable conditions we had 22 moths across 9 species including Brimstone Moth (pictured below), Brown Spot Pinion and Pink-barred Sallow.
Walking Festival comes to Foxglove
Monday, September 22nd 2014
Today we were happy to host a guided walk as part of the Richmond Walking and Book Festival which is running until the 28th of September. We walked round the majority of the site over a couple of hours and explained amongst other things; how Foxglove came to exist, how the reserve is managed, the diverse range of habitats on site and some of the flora and fauna.
After explaining how Kingfishers have regularly been seen feeding on the lake of late we walked across the bridge and Matt caught a glimpse of a blue flash that we had startled from a perch. Presuming that we had now scarred away the Kingfisher we went into the hide and settled into the seats for a few minutes to see if we would be lucky and it would return. We were then treated to a master class of how to catch small fish. The Kingfisher was using the railing in front of the hide as a perch and was dropping into the water and coming out every time with a fish, quite an incredible display!
We finished the walk through the scrapes where we spotted a number of dragonflies (like the Common Darter below), continued over the heath and along Risedale Beck. Everyone enjoyed the walk and we look forward to welcoming back the participants anytime.
On Friday we had our second group from Hipswell Primary School and thoroughly enjoyed showing them many minibeasts, habitats and pond dwellers that we have at Foxglove. We will be having all the year groups from the school this term and are looking forward to hosting our third group this Thursday.
Finally a note to the Tuesday volunteers; tomorrow we will be attempting some pond clearance on the wetland so wellies and clothes you don’t mind getting dirty and wet are a must. If anyone has any waders and fancies joining Matt in the middle of the ponds your company would be more than welcome!
Sunday, September 21st 2014
The nets were put up against the backdrop of a beautiful dawn as members of AOS joined ringers from Foxglove.
The promise of a lovely day.
Unfortunately the clouds covered the sun and the wind increased from the north, causing everyone to add to the layers they were wearing! Even the landrover was brought in to act as a shelter belt, which was very much appreciated!
This is, according to some 'proper ringing'. Outside in all acceptable ringing weather, small scales, birds hanging on a fishing rod holder, no computer, so all data recorded on paper (to be entered later into IPMR - over 1200 birds so far, just from the Crater!). But if you look closely towards the bottom of the photograph, some things do not change and the stickies are available for anyone who feels peckish!
Net rounds brought many birds back to the ringing station, mainly Mipits, but one Greenfinch, one Reed Bunting and five juvenile Goldfinches.
The Reed Bunting was a juvenile male as could be seen from the white ring around its neck.
For once it was not a certain person saying we could not go home until we had caught a specific number of birds, someone else has been well trained! So two ring strings of 100 rings were used plus 11 more, a grand total of 211 birds this morning.
It has been a busy weekend for the bird ringers with 398 birds caught. A huge thank you to everyone involved.
The Army Ornithological Society Visit
Saturday, September 20th 2014
The summer planned visit of the AOS had to be cancelled due to bad weather, so it was rearranged for this weekend. It was drizzling and damp but better than the light rain forecast. The ringers were kept busy.
For the first time in several weeks several Lesser Redpoll were brought into the ringing room. Their numbers will increase through the autumn as they come into the reserve to feed.
Another visitor was a Treecreeper.
In total 187 birds were processed of which 117 were new birds. Great Tits ringed in the nest boxes this year made an appearance. It was thought that we must have ringed every young Bullfinch on the reserve, but no, another seven were given their rings today. A male Chaffinch was found to be eight years old and another was seven. Other birds ringed included Marsh and Willow Tits, Reed Bunting and Goldcrest.
Thank you to everyone who helped today.
Changing species now. Technology is brilliant and emails have been passing between people about the Dark Arches that was shown on the blog on Thursday. David, one of our volunteers, is trapping moths and was unsure of the ID of the same moth so was pleased to see our identification. He had decided it was a Copper Underwing. That was when the warning bells started to ring, whoops, wrong ID? After much too-ing and fro-ing of emails, it has been decided that the moth shown on Thursday is a Copper Underwing, unless someone thinks differently! Thanks to David and Tim for their help!
Today no question of incorrect ID (hopefully) for this Angle Shades moth which was quietly sitting on the Field Centre wall, behind one of the benches. Picked up carefully for photographing it started to drink some of the water that was on the leaf.
Once it had had its fill, it rolled its proboscis back up under its head.
Wet, Damp, Misty Morning
Thursday, September 18th 2014
The mist was heavy this morning and everything was wet.
Dew covered spider webs were seen everywhere, in Gorse, Heather, amongst the conifers and in the grass. However the spiders were more difficult to spot.
By the afternoon, the almost sunshine, was beginning to evaporate the water droplets, although some could still be seen on the Devil’s Bit Scabious.
Some of the bees became active, feeding on the autumn flowers, although this one was sitting still.
Hipswell Primary School visited today and the children enjoyed looking for minibeasts, finding out about Foxglove’s habitats and the animals that live in them.
Volunteers were also in carrying out a variety of jobs, including cutting back net rides, administration work, meeting and greeting visitors, helping with the school visit and identifying the moths.
There were 28 moths of 10 different species, including, hopefully identified correctly, Dark Arches.
Also caught was Rosy Rustic.
A huge thank you to everyone who helped today.
Wednesday, September 17th 2014
Recently some abnormal growths have been spotted on some of the plants at Foxglove. Strangely these growths are caused by other organisms (mainly mites or insects) and are called galls. The organism that causes the gall interferes with the plants development and normal growth to produce food and shelter for itself. Some of the resulting growths are unlike anything the plant would produce normally and can form elaborate shapes and colours. A prime example of this is the Robin’s Pincushion gall shown below.
This is caused by the larvae of a tiny gall wasp, Dipoloepis rosae. The grubs inside the gall feed on the host plant throughout the winter and emerge in spring as adults.
Not all galls are so elaborate or colourful; the one below is caused by a gall midge, possibly Rabdophaga salicis, however it’s difficult to be sure as there are some 600 species of gall midge found in Britain. This one was found on some of the willow we are removing from the heath.
Tuesday, September 16th 2014
Today we continued the task of removing invasive species of plant from the heath. We moved across to the top side of the heath which was a small victory in this ongoing task. The volunteers got stuck into the task with their usual gusto and cleared a really large area.
The photograph below show an area that has had no management carried out on it this year. It is easy to pick out Thistles, Willows, Silver Birch and assorted other species that are starting to dominate the heathland.
This next photograph shows the area that the volunteers worked on today. It is clear to see what an amazing job they have been doing.
We were also helped by the children from the Dales school who carried on the good work and kept the fire going whilst the volunteers had lunch.
Once again thank you to all involved for your hard work and dedication.
Sunday, September 14th 2014
The lake was like a mirror this morning.
Conditions were perfect for ringing, and set to be so for the morning, until it started to drizzle! Thankfully this soon eased. More Blue Tits made an appearance today than of recent weeks. Chiffchaffs had been heard on the reserve over the last few days and 15 new ones were ringed today. Bullfinches continued to be caught and seven were added to those already ringed. By now most of them are beginning to show their adult colouring. This young male looks like he has come in contact with red powder paint! You can also see that he has a dirty beak, from feeding on various berries.
Once released he sat on a branch for a couple of minutes before flying off.
Also caught today were Nuthatch, Kingfisher and Willow Tit. The final total was 121 birds.
During the morning the local RSPB group came to Foxglove. They visited the ringing room where the whole process of ringing was explained to them.
Thank you to everyone who helped today.
Saturday, September 13th 2014
As the next date for the beginning of autumn draws near (21st September give or take a day - the autumn equinox) insects and butterflies are making the most of the flowers that are in bloom.
The numbers of Peacock butterflies have declined over the last week, but some can still be seen feeding on Devil's Bit Scabious. Honest, there is a Devil's Bit Scabious flower under this butterfly.
Red Admiral's prefer Hemp Agrimony and often several can be seen on one clump of flowers.
The other butterfly most likely to be seen around the flowers, at this time of year, is the Small Tortoiseshell. However they have not cooperated in having their photograph taken recently, so here is one taken in August.
Speckled Wood butterflies are seen in the sunny glades and areas around the reserve, often two or three displaying to defend their territorries.
Friday, September 12th 2014
Members of the ringing team were once again up at 'the crater' putting up nets in the early morning light to ring Meadow Pipits. Early autumn sees a massive movement of these birds through the area, to date 1015 Meadow Pipits have been ringed this year along with 12 retraps and 21 birds of 8 other species including this Yellow Wagtail which was caught this morning.
This is the first Yellow Wagtail the group has ringed in over a decade. Pied Wagtails and Grey Wagtails were also seen flying during the morning session.
Friday, September 12th 2014
Ken has been leaving his remote camera at various locations around the reserve to capture images and video footage of the less seen wildlife on the reserve. So far he has captured footage of Water Voles, Foxes, Roe Deer and Otter amongst other species. Last week we were very happy to find a clip of a Pole Cat foraging in the plantation area alongside Risedale Beck. This is a species that has never been recorded on the reserve before so this is a fantastic sighting!
Thank you for your perseverance with this Ken; we are all eagerly awaiting the next set of clips!
Thursday, September 11th 2014
As we drove into Foxglove this morning we were greeted by a couple of sheep who had decided that the grass was greener on our side of the fence and popped over to tuck in. It took a bit of gentle persuasion and the help of our early arrival volunteers, but we managed to herd them all the way from the drive back up to the moorland and onto the training area from where they came.
Luckily they helped us identify an area of fence that needed a little attention and after a well deserved cup of tea for the sheep rustling volunteers this was swiftly fixed.
After the excitement of early morning we went back out onto the heath and the volunteers worked diligently all day continuing the invasive species removal.
The bottom side of the heath is now looking great so a big thank you to everyone who has been involved in this task, we know its hard work but we do really appreciate the effort that you have put in.
Out and About
Wednesday, September 10th 2014
While summer is drawing to a close the weather recently has been fantastic and there is still plenty to see out and about on the reserve enjoying the early autumn sun.
Red Admirals can be seen feeding on the last few stems of Hemp Agrimony in the Scrapes and other wet areas of the reserve.
There are plenty of hoverflies and other insects still around, these are attracted to nectar rich flowers such as Fleabane.
Berries and fruits are also starting to ripen, such as these on a Spindle tree in one of our ancient hedge lines. Autumn berries and fruits are a very valuable food source for many animals through the coming months and only yesterday two of the ringers saw the first Fieldfares at different times entirely independant of eachother - almost amazing that they have arrived during such good weather!
Lastly, there have been plenty of birds spotted from the hides including a Kingfisher and this Grey Wagtail which was feeding along the muddy banks of the lake.
Wednesday, September 10th 2014
Tuesday volunteers were out again in force to improve the habitats on your favourite local nature reserve. A visitor who has a wildflower meadow in the Dales has very kindly collected some Yellow Rattle and Oxeye Daisy seed to help improve our middle moor meadow. Now the grass has been cut and removed the area was ready for seed to be sown. The Dexter Cattle will be moved into this area. As they walk around and feed they will help to bed the seeds in allowing them to germinate and produce a beautiful wildflower meadow next summer.
The rest of the volunteers again found themselves working on the heathland. We spent the morning cutting invasive Willow, Silver Birch and Gorse. By lunch the area was much improved and once again resembled a heathland.
We are very grateful for all of the effort that has been put into this task over the past few weeks, it has been hard work but the results speak for themselves.
Thank you again to everyone who helped out on the reserve yesterday and to Colin for the kind donation of the wildflower seeds.
Monday, September 8th 2014
Tomorrow we are having a volunteer open meeting where anyone involved in the reserve can come along to hear about what has been going on here at Foxglove over the summer. We will also be talking about upcoming work and projects for the winter months, as well as giving everyone the opportunity to propose projects and make suggestions for the reserve. The meeting will begin at 1415 with a shared lunch at 1230, so bring a dish along!
Thursday morning is our moth trapping event with county recorder Charlie Fletcher. The weather is looking good so we are hopeful for a good catch! If you would like to come along please visit our events page or e-mail us at email@example.com so we can book you a place.
Bird Ringing with a Difference
Saturday, September 6th 2014
Today some of the bird ringers from Foxglove visited the bird ringing group based at Teesside. They were there to ring waders, using a cannon net, which is fired over the top of the birds. These birds are just a litle bigger than those that we ring at Foxglove!
This Redshank was caught and ringed. In the photographs below you can see the red bill and the red legs.
Friday, September 5th 2014
Yesterday with the amazing assistance of our Thursday volunteers we started the task of clearing some of the vegetation from the ponds on the wetland. We are removing it to create some open water. This will improve the habitat for wetland birds and as an extra bonus improve the views from the hide.
We are carefully selecting the ponds and the amount of vegetation to remove to create a balance in this diverse habitat allowing our bird, Water Vole, Pond Snail, newt, dragonfly and assorted other inhabitants to thrive.
A big thank you to our volunteers this was a brilliant start to this ongoing task.
On Top of the World
Thursday, September 4th 2014
Ringing at The Crater is like being on top of the world. However, this morning there was not a lot of world to see due to the mist. The Mipits were still flying around and were curious about the nets, so had to sit on the fence to investigate!
There are many pools and even in the mist the Mipits were flying over them and walking along the edges. They do not appear to drink or bathe from these pools, unless they do so when the camera is not there!
In July a survey of The Crater recorded over 100 species of plants, invertebrates and amphibians. Today more species were noted. There were several groups of these red fungus. Slugs were browsing on them.
Toadflax was seen growing amongst the grasses and Brambles.
Although not new to the species list the Blackberries were doing well.
A beautiful Garden Cross Spider was found right in the middle of its web. Its legs spread to detect any movement that could be prey.
The nets were raised at 0600 and were taken down at 1330, by which time the mist had burnt off, the temperature was rising and some of the world could be seen. During this time over 185 birds were processed. There were three retrap Meadow Pipits, one from Tuesday, one from two weeks ago and one from an earlier session. This is most unusual. Two female Reed Buntings were newly ringed along with a tiny Willow Warbler.
At the end of the session one Mipit dropped in to say goodbye sporting its new ring!
Today's session brings the total of Mipits ringed this year to 602 with 7 retraps - and it is still early days. Additionally 3 Reed Bunting, 6 Goldfinch, 2 Willow Warbler, 2 Long-eared Owls, a Linnet, a Sparrowhawk, and a Whinchat have been caught up there too. We are the only site in the country where these numbers of Mipits are ringed.
As nets, poles and bird bags were being packed away, three Buzzards were heard and seen, of course they were 'our' Buzzards!
A grand day on top of the world!
Lots to see
Wednesday, September 3rd 2014
Today we had a busy morning with the regular moth group meeting to identify what was caught last night in the trap. We had eighty four moths over twelve species including this Frosted Orange that was caught on the reserve for the first time this year.
The Kingfishers have been spotted on multiple occasions over the last week or so, using our lake to fish. Today Jenny managed to sneak up on one taking a rest on the Mink raft and captured this amazing photo.
Fungi are coming out in this warm damp weather with numerous species spotted all over the reserve.
Eagle eyed Brian spotted this Seven Spot Ladybird pupae and then found the newly emerged Ladybird close by.
We also had the Dales School in for the first of their regular visits for this school year as well as an adult only pond dipping session this morning.
Heath Work Continues
Tuesday, September 2nd 2014
Today the volunteers got stuck into the ongoing task of removing invasive species from the heathland.
We are mainly removing Willow and Silver Birch saplings that are encroaching on the heathland habitat. We are digging them out to remove the roots rather than just cutting them back. This should reduce the amount that returns next year.
A big thank you to all the volunteers. They all worked hard in the warm conditions and made great strides into the mammoth task.
First Day of Autumn
Monday, September 1st 2014
It is the Met Office's first day of autumn. Summer can be stretched to the equinox around the 21st September, especially if the weather is warm and sunny, as it was today. There are still butterflies to be seen flying around feeding from the many flowers in bloom. This Peacock butterfly was hanging on tight in the breeze, as it fed from Devil's Bit Scabious.
A caterpillar, found by the Eco Club children on Saturday, remains in the same place, eating Purple Loosestrife leaves. Initially this was identified as a Grey Dagger Moth caterpillar, but as it is growing, the ID may not be correct. Further investigation needed!
Risedale Beck is our spring area for flowers. The Scrapes is more for late summer. (Please note autumn is not used just yet!) Areas of the Scrapes are yellow as the Fleabane opens its buds. Bees, hoverflies and butterflies feed from this flower. And yes you are correct in thinking this plant was once used to remove fleas, especially if Queen Elizabeth 1st was coming to visit!
Hemp Agrimony is another nectar rich flower used by many insects.