Blog Archive (28) Posts Made in July 2015
Friday, July 31st 2015
The Festival of Nature gave people the chance to learn a little more about the insects we have at Foxglove. Having realised the diversity, today two entomologists visited the reserve to start creating a species list. They spent a happy day on hands and knees identifying and photographing a variety of them, and are keen to return in the future to continue this valuable work.
Here is one of the Hawthorn Shield Bugs they found.
Flowers, Ponds and Pathfinders
Thursday, July 30th 2015
Yesterday was a busy day at Foxglove. We were visited by three Help for Heroes volunteers and their mentors as part of their Pathfinder programme. They had a guided walk of the reserve, and then spent some time pulling thistles on an area of heathland.
They worked very hard and quickly had the area cleared.
Afterwards they spent some time in the lake hide, and were treated to some good sightings of the Kingfisher darting up and down the lake, and the Greater Spotted Woodpecker on the feeders. It was great that they could visit and we look forward to welcoming them back in the future.
Also at Foxglove yesterday, our monthly wildflower walk was well attended, with a full census of all the flowers on the reserve conducted. A survey of flora and fauna of the ponds on the wetland has also begun, conducted by Martin from the Flagship Ponds Project.
Today’s volunteers have been strimming, mowing and cutting back overhanging vegetation from the paths and net rides, in preparation for our CES bird ringing on Sunday (weather permitting). We would like to thank everyone who has helped out on the reserve over the last two days.
Quite a Spread
Tuesday, July 28th 2015
After more than 24 hours of constant rainfall, the weather brightened up, just in time for the arrival of the Tuesday Volunteers. The seemingly endless task of thistle-pulling continued, this time on the moorland. Although thistles are a good food source for our insects, at this time of year there are plenty of other flowers for them to feed from instead, and it is important to remove the thistles before they seed.
Other volunteers replaced the wire on the steps to the Tower Hide, which had been removed to allow them to be painted. The wire stops the steps from becoming slippery after rainfall so it was important to get it back on, so we could re-open the hide.
At lunchtime all the volunteers, plus a few other visitors shared a communal lunch to bid farewell to Adam and wish him well in his future career as a teacher. This is Adam’s final week at Foxglove after four years here. Everyone had brought along cakes, quiches, pizzas and pies and by the time it was all laid out, it was quite a sight! No one went home hungry!
Thanks to everyone who braved the wet weather today to help on the reserve and came to show their appreciation for all of Adam's hard work.
Bird Watching Hides
Monday, July 27th 2015
Over the last two weeks Will and his workmen have been on site giving the bird watching hides a much needed coat of paint in order to help preserve the wood and their structure. This work is almost completed; we are just waiting for a break in the rain for the last section of the wetland hide to be finished.
The hides are now looking very smart and should be protected against the elements for years to come.
Our thanks to Will and his team for the brilliant job they have done.
A Quiet Sunday
Sunday, July 26th 2015
There was no bird ringing at Foxglove today as we carried out our regular CES ringing on Wednesday. After the excitement of the Festival of Nature last weekend, this meant the reserve felt particularly quiet and peaceful.
Despite this, there was still work to be done including strimming and trimming back some of the vegetation. Whilst out and about on the reserve we found the following:
Robin’s Pincushion, a gall caused by the larva of a tiny gall wasp
Visitors today came from far and wide to the reserve, with the record breakers having come all the way from Miami!
Saturday, July 25th 2015
We headed to the first pond dipping platform with bucket, plug and nets. Our catch here included Three Spined Sticklebacks and several very tiny beetles. Discussion ranged through camouflage to predators, including how a Kingfisher swallows a fish. We then moved onto the the bottom platform where a Great Diving Beetle larva was the catch of the day. It jaws were easily seen!
Last week during the Festival of Nature, tadpoles were caught, not a one was seen today, until we walked across the bridge over the lake. Not a brilliant photograph but you can see that this one does have its back legs. Initially it was thought to be a toadpole but looking closely it could be a frog tadpole.
We kept our eyes open and recorded Dark Green Fritillary, Common Blue, Ringlet and Meadow Brown butterflies. Grasshoppers were heard and seen along the boardwalk through the Scrapes. Bees were feeding from Spear Thistles.
Thank you to everyone who helped today.
Out on the middle moor the grasses and flowers are in full bloom. Rayed Knapweed has been seen along the Dog Daisy Avenue and the obstacle course. A new place can now be added, the middle moor.
The Yellow Rattle is nearly ready to rattle! Seed heads rattle when the seeds are ripe and ready to be dispersed, hence its name Yellow Rattle or Hay Rattle. This plant was grown in the ancient hay meadows and when it rattled it was time to cut the hay, usually around the middle to late July. There are not too many hay meadows left now but those that are, are protected and are not cut until the seeds have ripened.
Although the nesting season is over the bird ringers are still busy. They visited another site during the week and ringed Sand Martins, one of which was a control, a bird ringed elsewhere. It will be interesting to receive details of this bird from the BTO in due course.
Thistle Pulling Continues
Thursday, July 23rd 2015
Today the thistle pulling continued, this time we were concentrating our efforts on the heath. Thistles are removed before they go to seed to prevent them from spreading and taking over next year.
The volunteers worked really hard and by the end of the day there wasn’t a thistle to be seen on the heath.
Thank you so much to everyone who came and helped today continuing this hard but valuable task.
Wednesday, July 22nd 2015
As is becoming the norm the weather played a part in CES 8. It should have been held on Sunday but the forecast for wind and rain obviously meant that it was not possible. After careful scrutiny of many forecasts, today was decided upon for CES 8.
Amazingly a juvenile Mallard Duck was caught in a net! As you can see in the photograph, it had most of its feathers but its wings were hardly formed.
There were more Chaffinches ringed today, 22, than in recent weeks. Their numbers are also increasing in the back garden at the feeding stations. Bullfinches continue to visit the ringing room and another 13 left sporting their new rings. Other birds included Robins, Wrens, Willow Warblers and Blackcaps.
Another surprise, not in a net, was a Mole. Usually these are recorded as mole hills or sometimes a dead one, today a live one. Judging by its size, it too was a juvenile.
Overnight over 80 moths of 33 species found their way into the moth trap.
A busy day for bird ringers and 'moth-ers'. Thank you to everyone who helped.
A Thistle-stop Tour!
Tuesday, July 21st 2015
Over twenty volunteers turned out this morning to help us with jobs around the reserve. Three Johns started out at the lake hides removing wire from the steps so that these can be painted over the next few days.
The hides here sit in an exposed location and to protect them from all the weather can throw at them they need a regular coat of paint. Will is making good progress on this job and soon they will be looking as good as new.
Our other volunteers continued work removing thistles from the Scrapes and Wetland habitats. This job is left as late as possible as the flowers provide a rich food source for invertebrates. However, if allowed to go to seed areas can become completely over run with thistles reducing the diversity of the ground flora.
By the end of the day both of these areas were looking much better, and the volunteers had most definitely earned a piece of cake left over from the festival last weekend!
Thanks again to everyone who has helped out here today.
Festival of Nature, Day Two
Monday, July 20th 2015
A rainy start to the second day of our Festival of Nature meant we were unable to have bird ringing demonstrations but this soon cleared and the rest of the day was very successful with a variety of activities for all. A number of walks and talks took place during the day. On the butterfly and moth walk people were lucky enough to spot Large Emerald moths.
Our rare fern, Pilwort was found in the wetlands on the fern walk.
Back at the Field Centre, children tried their hand at dry stone walling.
Others dissected owl pellets to see what the owls had been eating.
Our Festival of Nature weekend finally drew to a close with the BBQ and raffle which was attended by over 70 people.
Over 300 visitors came to Foxglove during the weekend and helped us raise over £2000 to help keep Foxglove Covert running.
We would like to thank everyone who has supported us over the weekend, and particularly to those who gave their time and skills to help make this event such a success.
Saturday, July 18th 2015
Today was the first day of our Festival of Nature. It has been a fantastic success with over a 150 people coming to the reserve. There has been a great variety of activities and a lot of fun has been had by all.
The day started with a moth identification session first thing this morning. We had three traps out around the reserve and our willing volunteers diligently identified them.
There have been a number of guided walks throughout the day focusing on different elements of the flora and fauna to be found at Foxglove.
Children have been out and about pond dipping, on minibeast safaris and looking for identifiable bones in owl pellets.
The visitors centre has been a buzz with our bee keepers on hand to give everyone a brief introduction to the fascinating life of our bees.
Everyone who has visited has been amazingly well fed and watered with an arrays of cakes, biscuits, sausage sandwiches and burgers by Anne and her fantastic helpers.
There are too many people to thank individually, so thank you all so much for your help and support to make today possible!
Tomorrow is day two of the festival when we will do it all again and then have our summer BBQ. We hope you can come and join us.
The Festival of Nature
Friday, July 17th 2015
Everything is now ready for the Festival of Nature at Foxglove Covert this weekend. Our volunteers have been busy baking cakes, moving furniture, setting up displays, buying supplies, setting moth traps, cleaning the field centre and strimming to make sure everything is ready for the weekend. The reserve looks very smart thanks to everyone's hard work.
The Festival begins with a moth morning at 7:30am, with events, walks and activities running throughout the weekend.
Do come along and enjoy the weekend.
Cattle on the Wetland
Thursday, July 16th 2015
As part of the survey of the wetland conducted on Tuesday, we were discussing the best management of this habitat. Martin, an experienced freshwater and invertebrate ecologist, advised us that the best management for the area is grazing and cutting; following the same regime that we have over the past few years.
Grazing with cattle allows scrapes to develop in the sward as well as helping to control the growth of coarse grasses; this provides open space for seeds to germinate and promotes a diverse ground flora. As the cattle walk in the edges of ponds they create small, open areas of water surrounded by mosses and sedges, this creates ideal conditions for invertebrate life to flourish. This afternoon Duncan from Big Sheep Little Cow in Bedale delivered two Dexters to the wetland to help us manage this habitat over the next few months.
Willow Spiling Update
Wednesday, July 15th 2015
Earlier this year with the help of some willing volunteers we started a project to restore part of the bank of Risedale Beck using willow spiling. Willow spiling is a traditional technique used for stabilising river banks which involves driving willow stakes into the stream bed, weaving willow withies between the stakes and then filling in behind to create a new stabilised river bank.
It is always touch and go whether a project will be successful as the willow needs to grow in its new home before the water has a chance to wash it away. We are pleased to report that 100% of the stakes have now managed to sprout new growth.
A good percentage of the withies are also growing.
We are really pleased with the progress of this project and will hopefully be completing another 30 meter section this winter. Thank you so much to everyone who was involved.
Tuesday, July 14th 2015
Foxglove was a hive of activity as volunteers continued preparations for our Festival of Nature this coming weekend. Overhanging branches were cut back around the car parking areas and access track.
We also worked our way along the footpath network clearing over grown paths, allowing easy access for visitors. Ron spent much of his day strimming along pathways clearing long grass from the edges, making the reserve look really smart.
We were joined by Hannah from BFBS, who came to film a short feature to help us advertise the Festival. She spoke to volunteers as they worked removing invasive thistles from the orchard, and was impressed by their dedication to the reserve and their hard work.
Martin and Ann from the Freshwater Habitats Trust could be found on the wetland conducting a survey of the area as part of the Flagship Pond Scheme. This turned up some fantastic results including Pilwort, a rare aquatic fern; Ombiscura glabra, a rare mud snail, and many more rare and unusual invertebrate species. They said that the habitat here is top quality with an uncommon mix of moss and sedge giving rise to excellent conditions for diverse plant and animal communities to develop. They would like to return to complete a more systematic survey of the area to find out what other interesting creatures can be found.
Thank you to everyone who has helped out on this very busy Tuesday!
Monday, July 13th 2015
Much of the major habitat work here at Foxglove is done through the winter months when plants are dormant and there is minimal disturbance caused to wildlife. Three of our projects from the winter have shown brilliant results in the wet and warm weather over the past few weeks.
The coppice block, our biggest project during the last winter, is now coming on really well. After clearing out invasive species such as Silver Birch and coppicing willow the ground flora has developed with a rich assemblage of flowering plants. The willow has also grown back with several stools showing over a metre of growth already. Roe Deer, damselflies and butterflies are frequently seen in the glades by our excited visitors.
The area in front of the wildfowl feeding platform is now greening up with grass and flowers growing across much of the area. Geese and ducks have been seen feeding on the lush new growth.
Finally, our wild bird food crop has grown well this season, and is now awash with small flowers and insects feeding from these. In only a few weeks these will seed and become an important food source for birds over the autumn and winter months.
All of these projects would not have been possible without the tireless hard work of our volunteers; it is brilliant to see and enjoy the results of our labours as we walk the reserve.
Sunday, July 12th 2015
At this time of year flowers are coming into bloom almost daily. Colours range from yellows to reds, whites to blues and many shades of pink.
A flower that is spreading its range is Ragged Robin, and it can be found through the Scrapes and on the moorland. The Green Veined White butterfly can pollinate these flowers.
Betony enjoys the open sunny aspect of the heath and orchard and dark pink patches can be seen.
On habitat walks with school children we allow them to smell a leaf of Hedge Woundwort. They are surprised that it smells so awful! This plant has been used throughout history to treat wounds and stem bleeding. As is often the case with 'old wives tales' there is some truth in this fact, as experiments have revealed that the volatile oil in Hedge Woundwort does have antiseptic qualities. Toads apparently enjoy sheltering under the leaves!
It is a fervent wish that the orchids at Foxglove should grow with a bar code that gives details of their parentage and their exact species! Common Spotted Orchids are pink, well light pink through to dark pink, depending upon their parents! This one may have a Northern Marsh Orchid somewhere in its ancestory.
Whilst this one looks like a Common Spotted Orchid, the petals of the flowers are very small.
Away from pink a female Horntail (Wood Wasp) was caught in the mist nets during ringing. The long 'tail' is an ovipositor. She will use this to lay her eggs in rotten wood of Scots Pine, Silver Birch, Larch and Spruce. It can take the larvae up to three years before hatching as an adult.
Amongst other news CES 7 saw 64 new birds ringed including Willow Warblers and Chiffchaffs. Twelve Robins were also ringed.
The bees formed a small swarm, called a cast. Our bee keepers came to inspect it and found that there was a queen with the bees and so took it away. We think that there are still unopened viable queen cells in the hive.
Damselflies are showing their brilliant blue as they fly amongst the vegetation hunting. Broad Bodied Chasers have been seen and on a secluded pond an Emperor Dragonfly was hunting. Butterflies are out in numbers and Ringlet, Common Blue, Speckled Wood, Dark Green Fritillary, Red Admiral and skippers have all been seen.
Saturday, July 11th 2015
Although not brightly coloured or scented the grasses are putting on an excellent show.
Grasses are wind pollinated. The purple stamens are fixed at a central point and are able to move easily in the wind and so release pollen. To enable the (white) stigmas to catch pollen they have an increased surface area.
Whilst some grasses are producing pollen, Cotton Grass, which is actually a sedge, is releasing its seeds.
Fruit and Vegetable Quiz
Friday, July 10th 2015
We have been delighted by the response to the latest quiz and would like to thank all those who have supported us again. More forms were returned this time which gives us useful feedback. Each issue raises approximately £100 towards Foxglove Covert funds.
Answers to the Fruit and Vegetable Quiz are as follows:
17. Runner Bean
23. Sweet Potato
25. Spring Onion
26. Kiwi Fruit
33. Sugar Snap
38. Garden Pea
We are pleased to announce Ray and Eileen Ellis as the winners of the July 2015 Fruit and Vegetable Quiz.
Don’t miss our new quiz; a special edition for the Festival of Nature, which will be on sale from this weekend at £1 each.
Well done to everyone else who took part, the high scorers were;
With 38 Correct;
Ray and Eileen Ellis,
Val and Ted Darwin,
And with 36;
Carol and Frank Broughton.
Thursday, July 9th 2015
Today our volunteers were busy once again pruning branches and trimming vegetation along the paths and net rides. This is a task that has to be done very regularly at this time of year to keep up with the rapid growth of the vegetation.
By the end of the day the reserve was looking very neat and tidy, part of the preparation for our Festival of Nature which is now only a week away.
Snape and Thornton Watlass Primary Schools visited the reserve and staff and volunteers took the children pond dipping, minibeast hunting and on a nature walk.
A big thank you to all the volunteers who helped with both the school group and on the reserve today.
A Date for your Diary
Wednesday, July 8th 2015
It is now less than two weeks until our Festival of Nature on the weekend of the 18th and 19th July. Foxglove will be a hive of activity with naturalists leading guided walks and events to explore the reserve and discover what wildlife make its home here. Local groups including the drystone walling association and The Richmond Beekeepers will also be running activities for young and old alike to enjoy.
Our volunteers will be out in force leading pond dipping sessions, minibeast safaris and other activities. For those interested in traditional crafts the Foxglove Bodgers and other artisan craftsmen will be based at the car park demonstrating their skills, and allowing visitors to have a go themselves.
Food and refreshments will be available in the Field Centre. For more information on the events we have planned please visit our events page.
We hope to see as many of you as possible during the festival!
Tuesday, July 7th 2015
Today our volunteers spent most of the day Bracken bashing. This is a popular job and involves smashing swathes of Bracken with a long metal sword-like implement with a sharp blade on either edge. The task is quite satisfying as large areas can be cleared in a relatively short period of time.
The work is valuable as bracken is very invasive, and if left to develop quickly overshadows most other plants that grow beneath it. Slashing at this stage, removes this year’s growth from the plant and over a number of years weakens the root system. It has been noticeable how much less bracken there is this season, compared to previous years. The only down-side to today’s task was the large number of biting Midges and Cleg Flies that seemed to be taking advantage of our presence.
Some of our volunteers spent time this morning tidying up the edges of the paths around the Field Centre garden. The heavy rain and warm weather we have had at Foxglove recently has produced a nice display of Common Spotted Orchids in the garden. Thanks to all the volunteers who helped us get so much done today.
Pond Dipping, Bug Hunting and Nature Walks
Monday, July 6th 2015
The three youngest classes of Masham C.E. Primary School visited Foxglove Covert today. 41 children and their teachers piled off the bus at the gate and walked through the reserve to the field centre. Some of our more timid reserve species were nowhere to be seen due to the children’s noisy enthusiasm, but they got good views of the family of Moorhens on the lake and butterflies and Damselflies sunning themselves along the boardwalk.
The children spent time minibeast hunting under logs, and found a range of creatures including Slugs, Woodlice, Newts and Toads. They learnt about different habitats on the reserve and how creatures camouflage themselves to avoid being predated on a nature walk. They practiced their skills at pond dipping, with the highlights being a Water Scorpion, Sticklebacks and a large Leech.
These amazing underwater pictures, taken for us by Ian, show some of the underwater creatures in Foxgloves ponds.
The grey clouds looming at the end of the day managed to hold off long enough to allow the children to get back on the bus without getting wet.
Thank you to those who helped out with todays visit.
Flowers and Birds
Sunday, July 5th 2015
One of the net rides is awash with colour. The bright Red Poppies stand out against the greens and yellows of other flowers, many of which will provide food for birds as their seeds ripen.
Whilst in flower, they provide food for the bees.
During the weekend CES 6 was carried out. Another new Kingfisher was caught. Also there were 6 Wrens and 6 Treecreepers processed. After lower numbers during the last two ringing days, fifteen Bullfinches were ringed.
Two juvenile Grey Wagtails were welcome additions to the more routine species caught, but in keeping with other sites around the country 2015 will not be remembered as a very productive year. Numbers of small passerine species have been somewhat diminished and may be the result of the long spell of cold, Northerly winds experienced over the past two months.
Grey Wagtails have been seen at the head of the lake, on the new pools, and down by the weir.
Saturday, July 4th 2015
It is pleasant to walk around Foxglove and enjoy the peace and quiet. You can amble between so many different habitats and the vistas change. At other times it is nice to walk around with your eyes glued to the ground although you do miss the deer standing relatively close!
On entering the reserve a tree covered in cream 'fruits' was very obvious and a closer inspection was needed. The fruits of Blackthorn were not as they should be at this time of year, green and round! Some research has shown these strange 'fruits' to be caused by a fungus and they are called Pocket Plum Gall.
Hardheads are still tight in bud. We have the ordinary Hardheads and the Rayed variety one of which, growing in a different place, (as some flowers are this year and therefore keeping us on our toes) is in flower.
Eyes have to be raised slightly when passing Kidney Spot (Ladybird) Corner. Only a few adults have been seen here this year but we were delighted to find 'babies' on one of the Ash trees. There is sure to be a scientific name for the structure of the larva but little brushes sounds much better!
Out of the corner of your eye Speckled Wood Butterflies can be seen flitting through sunny glades and sometimes settling to allow a photograph to be taken.
On the middle moor Common Blue Butterflies were feeding.
A once in a life time photograph, a damselfly, a skipper butterfly and a fly all together. Truly amazing what you can see with your eyes looking down.
Festival of Nature
Friday, July 3rd 2015
Following the success of our Bioblitz weekend in 2013, Foxglove will once again host a weekend of nature events on Saturday 18th and Sunday 19th July. Local naturalists will be joining us for the Festival of Nature to lead guided walks where you will be able to discover more about the beautiful flora and fauna found here on the reserve.
There will be a range of activities for families including, pond dipping, minibeast safaris and natural workshops where you will be able to explore the fascinating lives of our animals. Volunteers will be on hand to lead guided walks where you can experience the reserve, learning how Foxglove has developed since its conception in 1992.
We will also have artisan craftsmen demonstrating their skills, and running workshops over the weekend including pottery, rope making, felt making and green woodworking. Local botanical artist, Karen Innes, will be running an art workshop for beginners over the two days.
Freshly made cakes, sandwiches and lunch will be available from the Field Centre as well as a range of hot and cold drinks.
There will be an entrance charge of £2 per adult and £1 per child for the weekend. Our annual summer BBQ will also be held during the Sunday afternoon, with tickets available from the Field Centre.
We are very excited about this event and looking forward to seeing as many of you as possible on the reserve to enjoy the festivities over the weekend.
Some News from the North
Thursday, July 2nd 2015
Adam reported 'Having a good time up here and catching some good birds, we managed to kayak out to Faraid Stack today to ring some Guillemots, Razors (Razorbills) and Shags. Sea is very calm.'
Leanne took this photograph at Loch Torridon. She had just ringed this Herring Gull chick.
The team have one more full day ringing before heading home on Friday. We look forward to hearing how the seabird colonies have fared during the breeding season.
As Busy as a Bee
Wednesday, July 1st 2015
First thing this morning our bees were at it again leaving the hive in large numbers. They once again settled on a tree in the back garden.
We searched inside the hive to try to find the queen but this time she was nowhere to be seen. This indicated that the hive was swarming, a process by which the resident queen takes a proportion of the hive away with her leaving a fully functioning hive behind for a new queen. So we once again called in our bee keeper Alison to catch the departing bees.
This time they didn’t head back into the observation hive so we were able to successfully remove them from the tree and place them in a skep (wicker basket for transporting bees).
We then left the skep full of bees in the back garden for a few hours so the bees could settle.
Alison then came back this afternoon and we wrapped the skep up in a sheet and she took it away to be relocated into one of her empty hives.
We are now expecting that a new queen will emerge from one of the queen cells in the hive in the Field Centre in the next few days.
Once again we would like to extend our thanks to our friendly bee keepers for their help.