Blog Archive (31) Posts Made in November 2016

Winter Moths and Flowers

Wednesday, November 30th 2016

Like every Wednesday I get into work and the first thing I do is open the moth trap. Lately the species have been very limited, with the numbers low so did not expect to find much this morn. However, considering the low, freezing temperatures, and also that it is December tomorrow, we were pleased with the haul. The bulk of the catch was Winter Moths, followed by the variable coloured Mottled Umber,

...below showing a dark form of the Mottled Umber.

Chris Meek, one of our dedicated moth team, came in with a Scarlet Caterpillar Club Fungi which she had found off site. Its mycelium colonizes the living insect and mummifies it, keeping it alive just long enough to generate the biomass it needs to produce the mushroom … a “spore factory” that allows this sinister fungi to reproduce. The caterpillar, quite often a moth caterpillar, is doomed once those spores take hold. The earth ball below contains the caterpillar, with the fungi sprouting on top, this was a fairly dry example.

Being the last Wednesday of the month we have a flower walk team hoping to find any flowering plant. Even this late in the year several were recorded


Red Campion

Herb Robert

Also recorded were Ivy, Ragwort, Creeping Buttercup, and Daisy.

Thanks to both teams for all the identification and recording.

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Moorhen we bargained for!

Tuesday, November 29th 2016

You only get out what you put in! Sometimes the bird ringers have to put in a lot of effort for little return. The duck trap was repaired on a nearby site on Sunday by a few of the ringing team members in fairly miserable weather conditions.  It was then placed in a new position where it was much more accessible to the birds.


Waders are necessary for this kind of work and are not especially insulating in cold, winter weather conditions!


Usually in a single winter season only a handful of birds are caught in the trap - largely dependant on the amount of feeding that is done and time available. Last night however, a single Moorhen was caught and ringed before being released back into the wild. Tonight the team received a phone call to say that there were more birds in the trap.


As it turned out there were eight Moorhen! One was a retrap from a year ago and the other seven were all new. Roger and Jennifer learned how to measure the biometrics of these beautiful water birds and were extremely lucky to experience a rare wildlife opportunity. 


The hard work has paid off already as the team have ringed more Moorhen in two nights than they did throughout the whole of last winter!  There were several duck seen feeding on the ouside of the trap today - watch this space!!

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A Frost Filled Day

Tuesday, November 29th 2016

The amount of work the team seemed to get through was fantastic, the day had an up-lifting feel from the start.

We were working on the Wetland for much of the morning finishing off the raking which kept us all fairly warm.

Even the Pillwort was touched by the morning chill.

The work was fairly physical as we dragged bags of rakings from the sun kissed bank where we hope the strimming will help the Primroses and Bluebells; much of this work was done by Eddie.

After lunch we headed down to Risedale Beck to clear up the mess from various work days, as well as having a fallen tree trunk across the Beck to clear.

While we beavered on with the work by the Beck, two Johns and Bob completed various jobs in the workshop.

The frost hung around for most of the day, and refroze as the sun started to dip, leaving an early festive feel.

The sun was dipping on the horizon as we picked up the tools and headed back to the workshop before starting the end of day jobs.

Thank you to all our volunteers today, and the Dales School for a great work day.

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Ponds and Photographs, Birds and Rings

Monday, November 28th 2016

I was working on our wetland again today. This is an area of Foxglove which is not open for the public to walk around, but can be viewed from our wetland hide, or from the ‘milk crate’ hide (from where, after some recent clearing work, one can now see across a number of ponds). As some of you may know ponds on our wetland are Flagship Ponds, meaning that this is one of the best pond sites in England and Wales, but did you know that the Freshwater Habitats Trust have a Flagship Pond Photo Competition running at the moment?

The competition is open until 31st October 2017, but as they would like to see photos reflecting the different character and activity of Flagship Pond sites through the seasons why not try for some winter shots sometime soon?! Bring your camera and look out from a hide… A frosty morning, frozen ponds, a snipe rising, a sunset or just a view across the ponds with the ponies or activity on the military training area in the background…

In other news, we’ve had some more reports from the BTO about birds we’ve ringed or processed – we get these every time we process a bird ringed by someone else (a control) or someone else records one of the birds we’ve ringed (a recovery). Some of the more exciting ones are on interactive maps on our interesting recoveries page. We’ve had new reports telling us that sand martins we processed in July this year were originally ringed in Icklesham in Sussex last year and in Gibraltar Point, Lincolnshire in 2013. I’ve also learnt that a great tit which I processed was ringed in the nest 7km away in West Applegarth earlier this year.

However, it’s not just bird ringers who can report a ringed bird: we also had a recovery of a meadow pipit which we had ringed in September 2014 from a veterinary surgery in Oxfordshire. A couple of phone calls later and we know a bit more. This bird was brought to the vets having been found in poor condition on The Ridgeway by someone walking their dog. The vets passed it to their local wildlife rescue, but it didn't pull through. A sad tale, but still interesting to know what happened.

On a more cheerful note, don’t forget it’s our December Winter Worky Day this coming Saturday (3rd December) - if you’re planning to come and haven’t yet let us know please do so, as we need to make sure we order enough food for everyone!

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Conversations and Communications

Sunday, November 27th 2016

Conversations at Foxglove are varied.  To those involved in them, they make perfect sense.  Sometimes visitors must wonder.  Its page 234 in the old one.  It has pointy leaves.  No it hasn't, that is not it, try page 237 in the new one.  And so it goes as moth-ers discuss moths and flower walkers discuss flowers. 

Discussing flowers

How do you know that it is Zig Zag Clover?  Well it's pink and big and has more pointy leaves.  A very scientific answer!

Zig zag clover

Then there are the bird ringers.  Have you collected them all?  Where to next? 56 or 9 and 10?

Net rounds

Checking bird boxes can be equally as stimulating.  Have you checked the back corner?  Have you got the box number?  Where are the rings?

Checking the nest box

Who's bright idea was it to put a box right under the bridge?  The water is cold!  Never mind have the net ready and the ladders!

Checking a nest box

Conversations are easy when everyone is together, but on the visits to Cape Wrath communications can be a little difficult and there are still some photos floating around in the ether!  We have to wait for their return to view all the fantastic photographs that have been taken.

Cape Wrath

Cape Wrath

Being of the generation that was not brought up with technology, the ability to 'talk' to Stacey down south on Signy, through email and receive photos from her is just mind blowing!

She has arrived safely and everything has survived the winter.  Although with a storm and snow over the last few days, she thought winter had returned!  The first Adelie chicks should hatch any day now.  Chinstraps, who are always about a month behind have just started laying. They don't mind the cold.

Down South

These are Elephant Seals at the bottom of the snow field.

Around Signy

And I could not resist sharing this snoozing Weddell Seal.

A snoozing Weddel Seal

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Cold, Frosty and Sunny

Saturday, November 26th 2016

Windscreens had to be scraped and locks unfrozen before many of the ringers could set off from home.  A different sort of Winter Wonderland awaited them.  No snow but a really heavy frost covered all the vegetation.  Golden light could be seen through the conifers and out onto the moorland.

Golden lght

The heath was white.

Frost covered heath

Leaves were covered in spectacular ice patterns.

Ice patterns on a leaf

Nothing escaped the frost.  Hawthorn berries are still plentiful for the winter migrants, Redwing and Blackbird, both of which passed through the ringing room today.  As soon as the sun started to rise, its heat began to melt the frost on the berries!

Frost melting on the berries

Birds ranged from the 5g Goldcrests to the 100g migrant Blackbirds, with Chaffinches, Goldfinches, Redwing, Song Thrushes, Marsh Tits and Brambling in between.  Lesser Redpolls, now known again as Redpolls, are beginning to spread into the reserve for the winter.  The Mealy Redpoll, below, was newly ringed.  A five year old Coal Tit and Chaffinch were among the retraps.

A Mealy Redpoll

235 birds were processed today.  Ringing is not a numbers game, but the variety of species and totals of birds processed does give an indication of the health of the populations and their movements.  Not many Greenfinches have been seen or recorded over the last year so it was really pleasing to ring 28 new ones today.  Blackbirds have also been scarce.  They made up for it today as 20 were ringed.  The majority of these were migrants from Europe.

Ringers were kept busy carrying out net rounds and ringing the birds.  Thank you to all of them and to those volunteers who supported the day with cups of tea, biccies and sausage rolls!  It was a very productive session!

PS We have received a recovery of a Meadow Pipit that was ringed at the The Crater in the late summer two years ago.  More details to follow.

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Book now!

Friday, November 25th 2016

Today was a fairly quiet day for us and it started and remained cold and still.

Colin came and filled the feeders (thank you) in readiness for bird ringing tomorrow. We dug up a few of our spare trees to be moved to their new home as part of a small wood for wildlife on a local farm.

We continued clearance work down by Risedale Beck with help from Ben and Charlie.

We also decided to offer another Festive Crafts session (on 5th December) as the two we had are now fully booked. Book your place now to make a beautiful Christmas wreath to take home!

The ponies are still getting on well by Plover’s Pool and we now have the photographic evidence – they eat gorse! Just what we want them to do!

With the realisation this morning that it’s only a month until Christmas – get your bookings in now for the Foxglove Christmas Party at Wathgill on 14th December for an evening of festive fun! 

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Smiles All Round

Thursday, November 24th 2016

It was a fairly mild day on the reserve, what I would call perfect working weather. This was a good thing, especially as we had our Thursday volunteers in today, and we wanted to break the back of work on the Wetland, which involved strimming and cutting back some of the dense, choking plant matter surrounding the ponds.

With the carting away of various plant matter which we were clearing we were kept warm, and in great humour.


In the afternoon we got a few more outstanding jobs done. The picture below is making the most of the dry weather to get the ‘milk crate’ hide , which looks out onto the Wetland, stained and preserved for another year.

Folk cleaned items we had used, such as Mike on the trailer which was thick with mud

and tidied around the Field Centre, like Christine sweeping out front, but generally folk just got on around the reserve clearing drainage pipes, oiling benches.

 At times the jobs we do may not seem important, but it is all part of keeping Foxglove Covert LNR running to the high standard that is expected. Thank fully we have a dedicated bunch of Friends that help us to maintain those standards, again thank you !

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As the days shorten

Wednesday, November 23rd 2016

We put our moth trap out throughout the year and the moths we catch and identify on our Wednesday ‘moth mornings’ change with the seasons. This morning the beauty of our catch was this male mottled umber, Erannis defoliaria. The female of this species is flightless, with tiny, barely visible, wings.

Work around the reserve today included fixing a leak in the scrapes…

…and doing some more clearance work on our sedge warbler patch.

Although there’s less time to get the outdoor jobs done than in the summer due to the shorter days the earlier sunset does mean we are around to take photos!

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Work Continues at the Beck

Tuesday, November 22nd 2016

After yesterday’s deluge we were pleased that the rain held off for most of the day. However, the wet ground did dictate where we were to work with the Tuesday volunteers. We have a number of jobs on the go at the moment, and all are fairly big. As we have to get the Bank at Risedale Beck completed before Christmas, so we do not damage the fresh shoots of bluebells and Primrose, we decided to continue down there especially as it seemed one of the drier areas to work.

With tools in hand we continued the clearing around the Hazel, and removed a few crowded Common Alder to allow more light to the ground. Soon we had another 6 folk from Dales School helping with the clearing work.


This Robin made the most of our presence ready to pounce on any unearthed worm. Note the ring on its leg, probably put on by us!

With the movement of foliage we exposed these mating Caddis Flies.

Caddis Flies come to our moth trap throughout the year, of which there are about 200 different varieties in the UK, all with differing flight times.It was fairly mild in comparison to the past few days, so with the putting out of the moth trap this evening we have our fingers crossed for a few more moths than last week, which was a six.

Thanks to all that attended today, we certainly got a lot done and will sleep well tonight.

This above is Stuart trying to be incognito.


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Attention to Alder

Monday, November 21st 2016

It seems to be getting dark much earlier now than even a week ago – the cold, grey and very wet day probably didn’t help! We started the day with the outdoor jobs, before the worse of the rain struck, removing some of the vegetation cleared from ponds on the wetland and making sure the gutters on the Field Centre were clear, before retreating from the weather to indoor jobs, including maintenance of some of our equipment.

So rather than tell you in great detail about the minutiae of our day, instead how about a focus on one of the species we’ve worked with quite a bit recently in our habitat work down by Risedale Beck: Alder, Alnus glutinosa.

Alder is a native tree to Britain. Its wood is durable – but ONLY if kept wet, where it withstands rot under water. This property made it useful historically in the manufacture of water pipes and it is still the preferred wood for clog making. Alder coppices well, which is what we were doing with some of ours down by Risedale Beck, and the wood can be used to make an excellent charcoal – as well as, apparently, a very good gunpowder! Dyes can be obtained from various parts of the tree, including the bark, cones and catkins.

Alder is also a useful pioneer tree as it has root nodules containing a nitrogen fixing bacterium and so improves the fertility of the soil on which it grows, by helping provide nitrogen for other plant species. It is therefore often planted on former industrial wasteland and brownfield sites. However, evil was thought to lurk within the alder tree, as when cut, the pale wood turns a deep orange/red, giving the impression that the tree is bleeding.

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Out and Around

Sunday, November 20th 2016

We often say that there is always something to be found whilst out and around at Foxglove, no matter what the season or weather.

On Wednesday whilst exploring for fungi, Chris and Brian found this caddis fly.  After we had all taken photographs and checked them, we suspected that people would say we had placed it so perfectly, on a branch with moss and lichen on show.  We did not, honest!

Caddis fly

On Saturday, Brian, doing the weekly jobs found some Honeysuckle in flower.  Unfortunately I do not have his photo, so one from earlier in the year will suffice, as an example.  I hasten to add that Brian's had no insects around it!


Walking quietly onto the bridge two Mallard were spotted sitting on the tree.

Mallard on the tree

Many of the Oak leaves are now brown but the sun was catching these making them and their shadows stand out amongst the vegetation.

Oak leaves in the sunshine

Autumn is heading into winter but Hazel is already preparing for next spring as its catkins are beginning to increase in size.

Catkins on Hazel

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Cubs and Conservation

Saturday, November 19th 2016

Yesterday evening was our second event with John Webster giving a photographic presentation called ‘A Tree, a Leaf, a Blade of Grass’ for the benefit of Foxglove Covert LNR. With 70 folk supporting the event it was a busy evening with the excellent presentation covering stunning landscapes of Iceland, Namibia, USA, and France amongst others.

Glennis who had organised the event received a bouquet of flowers from Sophie our Management Group Chairman as a ‘thank you’.

After the massive meal the raffle was called. Susan Shaw, the winner of the main prize, was presented with a limited edition print by John Webster.

Thank you to all that attended, but particularly to John Webster for his time.

Today, being Saturday, was a mixed bag especially as we had 20 of the 1st Wensleydale Cubs attending the reserve in anticipation of working toward various conservation badges. We had prepared for the day earlier in the week, with the additional bonus of a ringing demonstration.

The group was split into two, with one team going to Risedale Beck to do some manual conservation work, and the other to learn about garden birds, as well as a tour and an explanation of bird boxes. After an hour of these activities they swapped over.

Once back at the Field Centre there was a brief explanation of moth trapping, and also wildlife monitoring.

before finishing the day with making bug hotels,

and pine cone bird feeders.

All in all it was a good day for everyone.

Thank you to Tony, Jenny and Joel for their time with the Cubs during the ringing, and to all that helped with the event last night.


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Imagination Required

Friday, November 18th 2016

I started this morning by scraping my car of the thick ice coating the windows. It seemed a little unfair somehow, as otherwise where I live it appeared a cold but clear morning. However, on my drive in to Foxglove the closer I got the more snow there was on the ground and I arrived to a sparkling and beautiful morning, a thin crust of ice on the snow.

The ponies seemed at home in the snow with their thick coats and were still finding vegetation to tuck into.

Colin came in and filled our bird feeders – thank you very much!

With our newly-improved (with more upgrading to come) camera system I discovered live-action bird feeder filling was available in fairly good definition in the Field Centre!

The snow can be handy for showing us which animals have been around – here we can see that a rabbit has been using our boardwalk.

There were, on the other hand, downsides to today’s snow: The thin crust of ice made moving quietly difficult, so as I headed back to the Field Centre through the scrapes the kingfisher heard me coming and all I saw was it flying away…but I went back to the scrapes later, to collect some materials for a children’s event tomorrow. This time I was extra careful and quiet. I got lucky! It had returned and I got close enough to see it perched on the rail by the dipping platform, looking intently for (presumably) our stickleback. I even got my first ever photo of a kingfisher before it spotted me and departed. However, my camera was not on board with my plan to focus on the kingfisher, so please use your imagination - it’s the blue/orange out-of-focus blur in the middle of the picture!

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It was a dark and rainy day…

Thursday, November 17th 2016

Not a dark and stormy night, but a dark and rainy day (with occasional sleet) at Foxglove today.

We and our intrepid volunteers (thank you!) braved the weather in small doses (wherever possible) to complete some of the outdoor jobs: Swapping benches through the workshop for new coats of oil, a little bit of tree work, rodding drains, checking water flows, adding grip to some steps…

But it also seemed a good day to tackle some jobs under cover: oiling benches, repairing leaks in waders, a bit of office work, filing bird ringing records, cleaning the outdoor lights and signs on our verandas and redoing the Foxglove logo on our blackboard.

Our camera network is undergoing improvements at the moment. Thanks to David and Steven who braved the wild weather to continue this today. I caught them on my less-fancy camera outside our office checking a junction box…

We also updated our latest interactive map of our bird ringing recoveries –which includes quite a few storm petrels from our ringing at Faraid Head, near Cape Wrath. Perhaps of particular excitement were the one we caught which was originally ringed in Norway and the one that was caught again the day after we ringed it over 200km away on Fair Isle, Shetland!

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A Pathfinders Day

Wednesday, November 16th 2016

What a contrast to yesterday’s mild weather! I drove down the track this morning in heavy rain, and a fair gust of wind against me. My first thoughts were how the weather would affect the work party coming in today. On arrival I was disappointed at the moth trap catch from last night, having only 6 moths in total for the team to record. This below is a Scarce Umber.

Luckily the rain stopped as the ‘Help For Heroes’ Pathfinders work party arrived at 10am, leaving clear skies and just the wind to contend with. After a greeting, cup of tea, and an intro to the reserve we were able to escape the bulk of the wind as we popped unwanted saplings from Risedale Beck.

This was a continuation of the habitat work we were doing along the beck on the Worky Day recently.

After a lunch, presentation and a guided tour of the reserve the Pathfinders left us about 3pm.

Back at the Field Centre all the entries from the Calendar Competition were being put on the display boards for folk to look at. The winning photographers have been notified, thank you to all that took part.

Thanks also to our merry band of volunteers, and Pathfinders, who helped out today with the various tasks.

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Wetland Work

Tuesday, November 15th 2016

With help from volunteers we focused our efforts on the wetland today, continuing to cut and remove the vegetation the Dexter cattle and the Exmoor ponies didn’t fancy or hadn’t got around to.

We also started to remove some of the reedmace (Typha sp.), commonly known as bulrush, where it had been taking over.

One of the things we noticed while doing this were a number of these spiders.

They would run fast on the surface of the water, but probably lived in the vegetation. When disturbed they would lie with the four front legs pointing forwards, and the four back legs pointing backwards – in doing so, camouflaging very well as a small, floating stick.

A bit of research later and we think the spiders were of the genus Tetragnatha. These are stretch spiders and have this behaviour of stretching their legs out in front and behind to produce a stick like effect.

A group from the Dales School also joined us, here shown helping to cut back encroaching vegetation.

Elsewhere Ann and John filled bird feeders and John gave a little TLC to some of the benches from around the reserve.

Glennis also went out and about around Foxglove with her camera, coming back with this enchanting photograph of a roe deer!

Thank you to all who came and helped today.

In other news: We need to finalise numbers for the catering, so book now for A Tree, a Leaf, a Blade of Grass! It takes place this Friday (18th November 7pm for 7:30pm start) and is only £10 for an evening of entertainment, to include an audio-visual presentation by John Webster ARPS, MPAGB and a meal! Tickets are available at the Field Centre.

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Moving Water and Ponies

Monday, November 14th 2016

The sun had trouble coming out today, it actually felt like a Monday morning.

One of the first jobs of the day was to fix a Water Vole hole, which like I mentioned before in earler blogs can put water where we do not want it! In this case the leak was obvious, and made for an easy fix, but in the past finding the leaks which are under water is not so easy.

The new arrivals, the two Exmoor Ponies, seem to fit in really well, munching some of the ground cover both the sheep and the cows shunned. Surprisingly they seem to enjoy the spikey Gorse. The photo below was taken on the weekend.


Although the two horses have only been on the Wetland for the weekend their hooves were really making an impact, so it was decided to move them into Plovers Pool near-by (below pic).

After a few manual jobs were carried out we were blown into the office to complete some admin jobs which had been waiting for the right weather conditions.

Thank you to David and John who were busy sorting our Field Centre monitor and cameras.

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More Autumn Colours

Sunday, November 13th 2016

The autumn colours are hanging on.  Larch show yellow/orange in stark contrast to the dark green of the other conifers.

Larch in autmun colour

One of the maple trees has already lost many of its leaves leaving a brightly coloured palette on the ground.

A brightly coloured palette of maple leaves

Some trees, like this old Ivy covered Ash have already lost all their leaves, leaving only the outline of the branches against the sky.

An old Ash

Volunteers just love the Silver Birch trees that grow wherever they can, all across the reserve, but their yellow/gold colours can be enjoyed.   

Yellow/gold Silver Birch leaves

The winter migrants still have some Holly berries to eat.

Holly berries

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Stars in Clay

Saturday, November 12th 2016

Another day passed by, and it’s been another day of varied happenings at Foxglove.

We checked the footprints in the clay pads on our mink rafts. These are to monitor for the presence of American mink, an invasive species and voracious predator of water voles. So far, so good – no mink footprints or evidence of mink, but this clay pad from the mink raft in the scrapes shows lots of water vole footprints! In the top left of the photo is a particularly neat example of the classic ‘star shaped’ footprint from a water vole forefoot.

A walk around the site showed plenty of water moving through after the precipitation of various types earlier in the week.

Brian showed me this Amber Jelly fungus, Exidia recisa. This small but striking fungus grows primarily on the dead twigs of standing or fallen willows. 

We also carried on with our nest box maintenance: We installed some new replacement bat boxes. Thank you very much to Barry Evans who built and donated us a range of beautiful habitat boxes including some of the bat boxes we put up today! (Sorry we didn’t manage to get one of your boxes in an action shot for this blog).

We’ve continued cleaning out our bird boxes ready for next year. We remove old nests like this one as they can harbour fleas and other parasites, which could otherwise remain to infest birds using the box the next year. 

If you’re looking for a Christmas present with a difference, or something for that person who has everything why not sponsor a Foxglove Covert bird or bat box in their name? To find out more click here!

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‘Lest We Forget’

Friday, November 11th 2016

It was obvious that it was Armistice Day from the smart uniforms and buffed boots as I drove through the camp today. A moving, and a great sign of respect for all those individuals that have given so much.

When I finally got to the Field Centre I was pleased to have Charlie and Colin help me filling up the bird feeders.

As the morning ticked on I got a lot of the end of week jobs done as we would be ringing birds this afternoon. Jenny, and Jennifer came in specially to put the nets up, and process the birds which turned out to be mainly Blue Tits, Great Tits and the odd Brambling amongst others.

Below Jenny is seen extracting one of the garden birds from the mist net, pleased she was wearing wellies!

This afternoon we had two Exmoor Ponies arrive from the Yorkshire Exmoor Pony Trust. They will be staying on the Moorland/Wetland for the next couple of months as part of our grazing regime.

The one on the right is Sydney, a gelding, and on the left is Sky who is a mare (it's also her in the photo below).

A photo from yesterday did not make it to the blog, so here it is .... Keith and John having repaired and re-stained a bird seed hopper. With all the snow now gone it seems strange that this was only yesterday!

Elizabeth sent through a few photos of her success at growing Pillwort, seen below on her bedroom window sill, these ferns can grow 1mm in a day. A fine example of what  lengths folk go to for the benefit of the reserve.

This tiny plant is a type of creeping fern. It is hard to spot because it has thin, grass-like leaves and often grows with water grasses or small rushes. The ‘pills’ are tiny round spore cases at the bases of the stems. We are blessed to have this on our reserve as this fern is in decline elsewhere, the causes being habitat loss and pollution. Luckily our water is a pure as it can be. The plants above will be transplanted into a new pond, and we will keep you informed of their progress.

Thank you to Ursula Wells for her kind donation of some wonderful saplings, and also to the whole team that came in today.

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At the Turn of the Seasons

Thursday, November 10th 2016

It’s been another beautiful day at Foxglove in the snow, yet sun glasses wouldn’t have been out of place crossing the scrapes this morning!

The snow also showed us who else has been crossing the scrapes – the deer left behind their footprints!

Today was also our Thursday work party. This week saw a big list of achievements, with lots of jobs of many sorts getting done across the reserve with help from volunteers. Overhanging vegetation was cleared from paths, trees pruned, a hopper repaired, benches maintained, brash burned, punctures repaired, water flows measured, filters cleaned, cameras maintained and upgrades started, new stock (come and see – lovely model birds and animals!) priced, trees pulled, new chairs collected and records updated. Thank you very much to you all!

Julie took this lovely picture of the lake today, capturing the turn of the seasons with a glorious mix of autumn and winter.

Foxglove is beautiful at any time of year and for me it’s a joy to watch the reserve changing with the seasons and weather – the different outfits for different times of year and the moods of weather.

Even with a snowy mantle there’s still plenty to discover: Look big, with views across our moor, or small at a crack in a log or the colours of a leaf. Come and watch our visiting winter birds, come and listen to the Beck flow, come and smell the pine needles on the woodland floor. Come and explore!

Make time, as in the poem ‘Leisure’ by W. H. Davies

What is this life if, full of care,
We have no time to stand and stare.
No time to stand beneath the boughs
And stare as long as sheep or cows.
No time to see, when woods we pass,
Where squirrels hide their nuts in grass.
No time to see, in broad daylight,
Streams full of stars, like skies at night.
No time to turn at Beauty's glance,
And watch her feet, how they can dance.
No time to wait till her mouth can
Enrich that smile her eyes began.
A poor life this if, full of care,
We have no time to stand and stare.

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Winter Wonderland

Wednesday, November 9th 2016

It was a strange day all round. Firstly a new unexpected President of the USA, then the shovelling of snow on the drive at home followed by a pleasant walk from the reserve entrance gate

via the Lake, 

via the Scrapes and Reed Bed, where the weight of the snow flattened them to about 3ft. 

To the snowy blanketed Field Centre. 

Thankfully the weather did not affect the Owl Pellet event held at the reserve by Glennis, and some folk actually made it in. Usually this event is for children but the adults have enjoyed it so much that we made this event an “Adults Only”.

While the snow kept falling during the morning we were able to get a few inside jobs completed before going outside to cut back some heavily laden branches over hanging the paths. Here a cross between autumn and winter.

The thaw was well set in as we made our way around the reserve amazed at the transformation.

Signs of wildlife were very noticable, here Squirrel

A mix of birds, mainly Pheasant

All this snowy weather had us thinking of Stacey, our summer Reserve Manager. As I type this she is making her way south to her Antarctic Signy destination to study penguins. 

The ship is the James Clark Ross and its webcam can be found at:

The ships actual location can be found at:

It should take about 3 days sailing to then get to Signy. The ship will be there for about 2 days while she opens up the station, and then will leave her and her team. After this you can keep following the ship but she will not be on it.
Once set up there she will get her blog going which is:
But, she will only get time to update it about once a week.

We wish Stacey all the best , and hope to see her back here late Spring.

Thank you to Glennis, and Joan we are thinking of you!

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Aftermath Work

Tuesday, November 8th 2016

Today was a day of trying to finish off from the Winter Worky day at the weekend. This time it was a matter of clearing pre-cut brushwood and continuing the process of allowing more sunlight to reach the woodland floor.

This is never an easy job, fairly physical and very labour intensive. Below you can see the amount of clearance from over the weekend and today. Bracken and brambles were cleared around the Hazel, and crowded young trees were thinned out to allow for more structured growth, this will also improve flower and fauna at ground level.

When removing a tree guard from a sapling we discovered this White Legged Snake Millipede, it was probably 40mm in length. They love leaf litter and other dark decaying vegetation, but also climb trees to browse on mosses and algae.

Dales School were a great help with the large amount of brushwood to be carried to the fire site….

.....where Stuart was kept busy feeding the fire.


While the heavier work was going on down by Risedale Beck, Peter continued on the more delicate bank thinning out the Hazel and other growth to allow more sunlight to the bank where Bluebells and Primroses grow, all of this needs to be done before Christmas as after that damage by footfall could be done to the fragile shoots.

Some of the trees that had to be felled were Common Alder, which when cut is off-white in colour, but it soon changes to give a beautiful red/orange hue.

Insects are not that common at this time of the year so we tend to note anything that are found crawling. Here is a variety of Mirid or Capsid Bug. These tend to be herbivorous feeding mainly on seeds and fruits. As yet we are unable to pinpoint the exact name of this little chap.

Thank you to everyone who helped today.

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2017 Foxglove Calendar coming soon!

Monday, November 7th 2016

Thank you to everyone who entered our photo competition to find photos for the 2017 Foxglove Covert Calendar. Professional landscape, nature and wildlife photographer Ian Short has now selected the photos for the calendar and judged the best adult and child (16 years and under) photos. Thank you Ian!

If your photo has been selected for the calendar we will be in touch (by email in the first instance). Thank you again to all who entered. We plan to put all entries on a display in the Field Centre in the next few weeks so they can ALL be enjoyed. In the meantime the preparation and printing of the calendar is in progress so watch this space!

In other news – do you like owls and want to find out more about them? Why not come along to our Owl Pellets for Adults workshop this Wednesday? There are still a few places left – book on our events page!

It’s been fairly quiet today at Foxglove, so we’ve been catching up on things we need to do like tool maintenance:

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Reflections from the Worky Day

Sunday, November 6th 2016

Today for want of a better word, the weather has been horrible!  We were very lucky with the weather yesterday.  The sun shone and the rain showers did not appear and even the wind was kind blowing over the top of the valley and only occasionally swirling along the path.

The beckside is so overgrown it was difficult to know where to start.  Some obvious trees were coppiced which also made room for the brash to be piled up, ready to go on the fire.

Getting started

An old fire site was found and the fire was lit.

Lighting the fire

Unfortunately even our fire lighting experts could not get the fire to burn.  All the while brash was building up around them. Eventually flames!

The fire burning

The bankside is a very sensitive area where our spring flowers flourish.  By the end of the year we will be able to see the new growth of Primrose leaves and not too long after Cuckoo Pint and Bluebell leaves appear.  To keep disturbance to a minimum only two people were carefully coppicing Alder and Hazel, selectively cutting out about two thirds of the growth.  This will allow more light and air onto the bank which will benefit the ground flora.

Coppicing on the bankside

Along the beckside coppicing soon had a lot of brash to move, but the area looked so much better as the autumn light filtered through.

Opening up the beckside

By now the fire was really going and those loading it were beginning to clear the wall of brash that had grown even taller around them!

Burning the brash

Towards late afternoon the setting sun showed through the trees and highlighted the smoke and volunteers.

Burning brash

As the cutting stopped and the brash was all cleared to the fire site, volunteers gathered and watched as the fire was made safe. 

Gathering around the fire

Although the cutting looks severe, come spring and early summer we will reap the rewards of this work.

A huge thank you to everyone who helped yesterday.

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Curry and cake (and lots of work!)

Saturday, November 5th 2016

Today was the second of our Winter Work Days. We had over 30 volunteers (of all ages!) to help us and together we made a big difference in a short time. Thank you to all those who turned up and mucked in.

Today’s task was clearing and thinning along Risedale Beck. This area of the reserve features an outstanding display of primroses and bluebells in the spring, but over recent years the Beck and adjacent bank have become increasingly overgrown diminishing this yearly spectacle.

Everyone assisted with the work, according to their size and capabilities. 

We were fuelled through the day by curry, cake and numerous cups of tea!

A special thanks must go to those who helped with refreshments and (crucially!) washed up afterward.

And of course there was the customary bonfire which was even seasonally appropriate!

This blog was guest written by volunteer Peter B. Our next Winter Work Day is Saturday 3rd December - book your place through our events page.

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Au revoir Liquorice and Fern

Friday, November 4th 2016

Today was collection day for the Dexter cows on our wetland. Liquorice and Fern have been with us since July, on loan from Big Sheep, Little Cow at Bedale – thank you. They have done a good job of grazing our wetland.

They also seem to have enjoyed being here as both bribery and an improvised head collar were required to persuade them into the trailer…

Au revoir until next year Liquorice and Fern!

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Coffee Morning and Afternoon Leaves

Thursday, November 3rd 2016

Today was our off-site coffee morning in Richmond Town Hall on the Market Square. There is a lot that goes into getting this up and running and as always a team of volunteers called Team Cappuccino pull out all the stops to make this happen.

It is not just the coffee that is poured, but bric-a brac, home produce, tombola, and raffle. We would like to thank Tony Cooper for organising this event and bringing all components together.
These are his words –
“Team Cappuccino would like to express their sincere thanks and appreciation to everyone who helped in any way at today’s coffee morning , nurturing plants, providing cash donations and items for sale or raffle, supporting the event and most particularly by setting up, manning the door and stalls, and cleaning up afterwards.
After deducting expenses and the hire of the hall there was a healthy profit of £382.97”

With the event over we returned to the reserve to put away the various items and get on with the rest of the day. The first job was to get the silage sheet, brought in by Charlie, to act as a weed suppresser on the invasive New Zealand Pigmyweed which we have had a full on blitz this year in an attempt to eradicate it from one small isolated pond on the reserve.

This Frog was caught on our black sheet we had just put down.

While we limited the foot fall on the area to avoid speading the pond weed John was dealing with the fallen leaves on the paths.

Thanks again on behalf of the management to ALL that attended our coffee morning and gave up their time to assist, and to all volunteers who stayed at the resverve doing the day to day jobs.

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Odds and Ends and To and Fro

Wednesday, November 2nd 2016

A day of odds and ends today including preparation for the coffee morning tomorrow. It’s at Richmond Town Hall 9am to 12 noon – come along and join us. We also had Charlie here on his placement from Askham Bryan helping us move the benches at the front of the Field Centre to give some of the grass a rest…

….making repairs to grip on one of our boardwalks…

…and finishing clearing up from the cut near Plover’s Pool.

Chris has labelled fungi left over from the Botanical Painting of Fungi course (if they were still in reasonable condition). These will be on display in the activity room at the Field Centre for a few days to have a look at if you’re popping by – thank you Chris!

We weren’t the only one busy today. This small rodent was to and fro tidying up under one of our bird feeders!

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Raking and Trees to Go!

Tuesday, November 1st 2016

It was a another beautiful day on the reserve which always makes the day easier for all with the jobs we had on for the Tuesday volunteers.

 I feel I am repeating myself when I mention the value of these folk who constantly help us with the management of the reserve, but at the same time we would not be able to keep to what we consider a high standard without them. Here are some of the volunteers on the moorland raking off bracken and gorse cuttings(above), and beyond Plovers Pool ( below ).

We had Goose Moor Nature Reserve attend the site who were taking Birch and Willow to plant on their new reserve,

also oak saplings like the one below kindly donated by Howard and Rachel Walker.

Sadly it was the final day of the Botanical Fungi Art Class held by Karen Innes with some fantastic results.

This one was of Elfin Saddle using the Shaggy Inkcap ink instead of water colour.

Thank you to Karen and the volunteers that attended today.

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Help Support Foxglove

Friends of Foxglove

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

More Details

Upcoming Events

Access to the Reserve: CLOSED

Monday 20th May 2024 |

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

Dragonfly Walk

Sunday 21st July 2024 | 1pm-3pm

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

Booking essential. Donations welcome.


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