Blog Archive (31) Posts Made in October 2018
Wednesday, October 31st 2018
There was another Halloween themed activity held today. The children made spiders, webs and ghosts to complete a spooky mobile!
There was a lot of hard work needed to complete each activity. Lots of concentration was needed, along with a fair bit of glue.
Sometimes some adult help was needed.
Once the ghost was made it needed to be checked. This ghost looked a rather unhappy one, although the one lying down had a smile.
The final part was making the spider before the mobile was completed
I am rather pleased that these spiders don't live in the Field Centre!
At the end of the session the children left the Field Centre with their ghosts and spiders and webs. They also had painted pictures and a ghost puppet.
A huge thank you to the volunteer who prepared everything so it was just to put out on the table and to those volunteers who helped decorate the room, help with the activities and then tidy up.
Wednesday, October 31st 2018
This morning, armed with the long reach chainsaw, regular chainsaw, loppers and bow saws, we set about pollarding one of the large Willow trees in Coupe 5.
Pollarding in this way allows the tree to rejuvenate and produce new shoots. When cut, epicormic buds lying under the bark emerge and produce new shoots, giving the tree a new lease of life. These buds usually lie dormant and are suppressed from growing by hormones released by the active shoots higher up the tree. However a sudden environmental change, such as pollarding will allow these buds to develop active shoots.
It won't be long until this tree is covered with new shoots!
After pollarding all the major branches, a small number of small stems were kept and were laid around the main tree. Laying is done by partially cutting the branches at the base, and pegging them down to the ground as seen below (peg partially knocked in).
A small area under the peg is scratched off, allowing it to root and grow up from where the stem is pegged down. This is a great way to produce new shoots around the current tree, and can be done with many trees like Willow and Hazel.
The Head of Army Basing visits Foxglove
Tuesday, October 30th 2018
Today we had a visit from Belinda Vern, the Head of Army Basing, who was given a little insight into what Foxglove is about. Starting with a short walk from the bus shelter to the Lake Hide, down through the Scrapes, then to the Field Centre to warm up and a look around the eduction room and bird ringing room. It was unfortunately too brief a visit to get any photographs.
A look back at yesterday with a sunny frosty morning on the drive onto the reserve.
We have been continuing with the Willow Carr coppice behind the Field Centre with our regular Tuesday volunteers. We have moved onto felling and pollarding the Hawthorn trees, which made for a hot fire.
Pumpkin Carving at Foxglove
Monday, October 29th 2018
Today Foxglove played host to all manor of ghastly gouls and ghosts during this year's Pumpkin Carving events.
There were many different designs and styles of pumpkins by the end of both two hour sessions…
Some being more sinister than others!
All in all there was a lot to be proud of; some of the finished pumpkins were things I've never seen before, like using the top or side of the pumpkin as the bottom, and stalks as noses!
Reminders of Summer
Sunday, October 28th 2018
Looking through photographs to use in the displays in the Activity Room brings back memories of our hot sunny suummer.
Zigzag Clover, one of three we have recorded on the reserve, fed many bees.
Brimstone Butterflies kept us on our toes as we waited for them to settle to feed, so a photograph could be taken.
Guelder Rose has produced much fruit from the white flowers, although not many birds seem to like them.
Red Campion always flowers at the head of the Scrapes first. Down along Risedale Beck it was still in flower last week.
Although the summer was hot and sunny, few records of the Common Lizard were noted.
Saturday, October 27th 2018
Over the last week the colours at Foxglove have noticeably changed. Along the Sycamore Avenue the fallen leaves have turned the path golden yellow.
Larch shows soft green colours in spring and are now just turning to yellow, as they are the only deciduous conifer. The needles will soon fall and the path towards the moor will become covered in a thick layer of them.
On the south side of Risedale Beck the Larch are a little slower to change colour.
The Coffee Morning is on Thursday the 8th of November in Richmond Town Hall, between 9 and 12. As usual there will be a cake stall, tombola and raffle. Please drop in for a cup of tea or coffee or if you would like to help then contact the Reserve Managers.
November 3rd is our Worky Day. If you are joining us then please let the Reserve Mangers know by Wednesday, as we need to know numbers to order the hot meal. Layers of old clothes will be needed!
Kell Bank School Visit
Friday, October 26th 2018
Today we have been visited by the entirety of Kell Bank CE Primary School, all 19 pupils!
We've had a great time watching the ducks from the Lake Hide, hunting and searching under logs for Mini-beasts…
And also dipping in the ponds on the Scrapes!
A plethora of Three-spined Sticklebacks (Gasterosteus aculeatus) were caught, along with this rather impressive Dragonfly nymph!
The final part of today's school visit was to take a leisurely Habitat Walk in the general direction of the main gate onto the Reserve.
We had many a stop on the way, taking time to talk about the Vole Ponds and the invasive threat of American Mink (Neovison vison) to Foxglove's Water Vole (Neovison vison) population. We also stopped by the newly revamped Outdoor Classroom to talk about the life cycles of some of the invertebrates caught throughout the day. The new Seasons tabletop display really helps to explain what to expect of Foxglove over the coming months!
We look forward to future visits to the Reserve by Kell Bank, who are keen to come and help us with some coppicing and pollarding next February.
Pumpkin Carving MkII
Friday, October 26th 2018
Aside from the usual work on Coupe 5 where we have now moved onto thinning out and pollarding Hawthorn, we spent the early part of yesterday morning transporting pumpkins in preparation for next Monday.
Due to popular demand we've decided to put on an afternoon Pumpkin Carving event on Monday 29th October from 13:00 to 15:00.
The event is already booking up fast so if you want to come along book soon!
Reedmace pulling on the Wetland
Wednesday, October 24th 2018
Today we've been pulling Reedmace (Typha latifolia) from one of the Wetland Ponds, with help from the Risedale Rangers.
You're unlikely to meet two people that enjoy pulling Reedmace as much as Peter and Imogen.
As a treat for all of the hard work put in by the Risedale Rangers over the last few weeks we got a fire going and toasted marshmallows before presenting them all with certificates.
Meanwhile Peter and Imogen returned to the pond, where we managed to double the amount pulled in the afternoon.
A considerable amount was achieved today; where before there was only vegetation there is once again open water which can be seen from the Wetland Hide.
Volunteers at Foxglove have many skills. While some were working on the wetland, others were in the Field Centre continuing with preparations for the Coffee Morning. We wanted displays showing Foxglove and ways in which people can support the reserve, through the Friends group, 100 Club and the Adopt-a-Box Scheme. (More details of these can be found on the Support Us page.) Photographs were needed, which involved sorting through the many that we have.
Then came the more difficult task of trying to fit them all onto the display boards. The task was finally completed.
Thank you to all the volunteers who worked to support Foxglove today.
In other news this year's winner of the Calendar Photographic Competition is 'On Guard' by David Boakes.
The Management Group would like to thank everyone who entered the competition which as always was incredibly difficult to judge. The 2019 calendars with 13 of the best photographs displayed are now on sale in the Field Centre.
Art class with St Francis Xavier school
Tuesday, October 23rd 2018
For the last couple of mornings, we have had the lovely year 10 art class from St Francis Xavier School in Richmond on the reserve. They came specifically to draw the birds we have as taxidermies in our Field Centre and education room. This forms part of their coursework, and they will be producing prints from the images they drew today. We are looking forward to seeing the final product!
The Lapwing proved particularly popular, with some difficult colour combinations, as well as the beautiful European Eagle Owl and Waxwing below.
Meanwhile the volunteers have been busy continuing the work on the Willow Carr coppice. We have finished clearing all the birch, and are now moving on to selecting which hawthorn to keep, and of course, coppicing the willow.
We have also been thinning out the area behind the Field Centre, removing some of the birch trees, and clearing around this oak tree giving it a bit more space and light to grow.
Meadows and displays
Monday, October 22nd 2018
Another day, another meadow, or two! One of the jobs today was to continue with strimming the wildflower meadows and orchards around the reserve. The first one was along the path from our Water Vole pond, and was a simple strim and rake, apart from avoiding a couple of small self-seeded Oak saplings.
The second was alongside the Heathland, which made it a little more challenging. With small Birch and Willow Saplings, it was time to get the big Brushcutter out. Lots of small hidden pockets of heather, as well as small Oak trees were avoided, which isn't the easiest with a spinning blade which wants to cut everything!
An Oak tree was planted here last year in celebration of the 25th Anniversary of Foxglove Covert, it is good to see it thriving.
We had the exciting delivery and installation of our updated map on the front wall of the Field Centre too, with 630 new species having been found on the reserve since the last one was installed.
First Winter Migrants
Sunday, October 21st 2018
Over the last few days there have been reports of Redwings and Fieldfares in Foxglove. They have come to feast on the good crop of Hawthorn and Rowan berries. We did not expect to catch any today but three were newly ringed. You can see where the Redwing gets its name from.
We also caught and ringed nine new Goldcrests. These tiny birds weigh about 5g. This is a male, which can be recognised by the orange feathers on its head.
Another small bird is the Long-tailed Tit.
IPMR, the data handling programme for the bird ringing data, picks up any anomalies in the data entered. By this time of the year it assumes that all the juveniles should be age coded 3, meaning that they were hatched this year. I received an automatic warning that I had entered incorrect data when adding this Bullfinch that was still a 3JP, meaning that it was still in post juvenile moult. I replied stating that the data I input was correct! As you can see from the photograph below, this young Bullfinch is still getting its adult feathers, so is in a state of disarray and looks like he has been in contact with poster paint! He will not be too long out of the nest!
Redpolls arrive on the reserve during the autumn and winter, sometimes in large numbers. Not having caught many so far this season nine were ringed today. The males have a red 'poll' (head) and a red breast.
Adding to the list of new birds ringed were 15 Blue Tits! Coal Tits, another bird that comes to Foxglove over the winter, are still arriving.
Thank you very much to everyone who helped today.
Strimming in the sunshine
Saturday, October 20th 2018
It was a glorious sunny day on the reserve, leaves falling and autumn Thrushes crowding the bushes.
The task this afternoon was to cut and rake one of the meadows behind the Field Centre, which is a haven for wildflowers and orchids in the spring and summer. We have been waiting for all the flowers to set seed before cutting it, giving the seeds a chance to fall to the ground.
The area was raked after being cut, which keeps the nutrient levels in the soil low, making it ideal for wildflowers and orchids. Higher nutrient levels would allow tougher grasses to thrive, which would outcompete the wildflowers.
Small pockets of Heather were carefully avoided with the Strimmer.
One of the jobs this morning was to check all the Mink Rafts on the Beck, Wetland, Ponds, and Lake on the reserve. Not much was found as many were quite wet after last week-ends rain, but one did have a few bird prints, possibly those of a Moorhen.
Outdoor Classroom Revamp
Friday, October 19th 2018
The big news of the day was the installation of new interpretation boards at the Outdoor Classroom.
The centre table is now split into four sections representing the four seasons at Foxglove…
The walls have undergone an upgrade too, with two new displays having been added just today!
The first shows the lifecycles of some of the more common Reserve residents and will prove a useful tool when teaching the many school children that visit the Reserve on school trips. The second is equally vibrant and useful, displaying the ways in which different animals benefit from being camouflaged.
In other news, Buzzards have been seen flying over head throughout the day, even landing on the Wildflower Meadow briefly before taking off again. Redwing have been spotted too, which is why I hotfooted over to a couple of our dormant net rides in order to give them a cut ready for Bird Ringing this Sunday (21st).
Killing them with a smile
Thursday, October 18th 2018
We're getting more and more adventurous with the way in which we carry out our stump treatment of Birch in coppice block 5…
Despite how overstood this current area was with Birch there's a number of Oak saplings that have survived which we are keen to protect from the many deer we have on the Reserve at the moment.
We also had a rather important delivery today, which will be unveiled tomorrow…
The Ever Hungry Ponies
Tuesday, October 16th 2018
Morning checks at Foxglove always start with a visit to see the ponies; as you may have guessed from the pictures below this visit also includes a few of their favourite food items.
Aside from being nibbled by Lark and Taurus we've been cracking on with yet more vegetation removal from the coppice block behind the Field Centre; including stump treating Birch.
In the hope of ensuring their speedy demise I've been getting a little creative with the chainsaw too!
Boardwalk repair or replace?
Monday, October 15th 2018
This morning we had the fun and games of an LPG tank replacement, you've got to feel for the guys over at Landmarc who have over 25 of these to swap in the North alone, some of which hold 25 tonnes of gas!
Despite the scale of the job it didn't take very long until the road was free from tanks, trucks and tired workforce.
Meanwhile we've been continuing to dismantle one of the Green Route boardwalks on the South side of Risedale Beck, and have even now been able to start cladding and joist work between the two remaining sections.
Work should continue on Thursday depending upon the progress made on coppicing the Willow Carr tomorrow.
A Glorious Day - Part Two
Sunday, October 14th 2018
We had moths in the morning and then in the afternoon sunshine we had butterflies. Michaelmas Daisies were planted in the back garden for such days as these. A Small Tortoiseshell arrived but was shy and disappeared before a photograph could be taken. There were several Comma butterflies feeding.
Soon they were joined by Red Admirals.
Once the sun moved off the daisies the butterflies moved off too. Out on the reserve Speckled Wood butterflies were still fluttering around in the sunny glades.
Blue sky was an ideal background for the Hawthorn berries. These are just waiting for the winter migrants to arrive, although our own Blackbirds and Song Thrushes may well have a feed first.
There are still plenty of apples around the reserve.
Down on the lake the Mallards were also making the most of the sunshine and sitting out on the tree. The males now have iridescent green heads.
There were also sightings of flowers, fruits, fungi and Common Darters, all enjoying and making the most of the sunshine.
A Glorious Day - Part One
Saturday, October 13th 2018
No I am not referring to, today but Wednesday. Being poetic, the light, driving into Foxglove was bright, hazy, shimmering, misty and a bit strange. Rays of sunshine were stretching down onto the heath.
The 'misty bit' had caught the spider webs across the heather.
A close up of the webs showed that each silken strand had caught tiny droplets of water. As the sun rose and the temperature rose so all of the webs disappeared.
After early morning photography, it was back to the moth trap. Due to the weather, it had not been out for a couple of weeks. There were some lovely moths to identify. It is thirsty, hungry work identifying moths.
Unfortunately the five Feathered Thorn moths caught did not co-operate and flew off immediately they were released!
A moth that we gave many names to before its final ID was agreed, was Green-brindled Crescent. You can just see a hint of green on its wings.
Another individual caught was much darker, although it had the same markings. On closer inspection we noticed the green colour in just two areas across the wings. We rather liked it striped 'stockings'!
Some moths are very easy to ID and also easy to remember. The Red-line Quaker, as its name suggests has a red line on it.
Yellow-line Quaker has a yellow line. We normally trap more Red-lines than Yellow-lines.
Many moths do not feed, but both of these moths do, feeding from Ivy flowers and overripe berries. The larva of the Red-line feeds on the catkins and leaves of Willow, whilst the Yellow-line has a much more varied diet including Oak, Poplars, Beech, Hawthorn and possibly Heather, in the north.
Thank you to everyone who helped with a variety of tasks on Wednesday.
Ponies on the Windy Wetland
Friday, October 12th 2018
We put Lark and Taurus back onto the Wetland first thing this morning in the hope that they'll munch their way through more of the vegetation in the run up to winter.
Afterwards we got around to putting up the new signs for the main access gate; there has been some confusion of late so we're hoping that the new sign makes entering and exiting the Reserve a lot clearer for new visitors.
On the way over to carry out our evening check on the ponies Imogen noticed an amazing crop of Fly Agaric (Amanita muscaria) in the conifer belt.
Although still relatively small some were the largest ones I have ever seen, however this species has been known to reach heights of 30cm and widths of 20cm!
This fungi often forms mycorrhizal associations with birch and is predominantly found on light soils around Birch, Pine or Spruce.
You may recognise Fly Agaric from the Disney Movie Fantasia, or as the character Toad from the Mario Bros video games.
Coppicing and Kestrels
Thursday, October 11th 2018
We've been hard at work removing yet more Birch from the first section of this year's coppice block (Coupe 5).
In the process we came across this interesting little fellow, one of the Looper Caterpillars, presumably a moth, if anybody has any ideas please email and let us know (firstname.lastname@example.org).
Aside from cutting and burning we were called out just after lunch to attend to an injured Kestrel not far from Cambrai Lines Guardroom.
Holding for photographs was made difficult due to a suspected injury to its leg.
The ring number on the leg shows that this beauty was ringed, alongside five siblings, in the nest on the Garrison by Stacey Adlard on the 1st June 2017. Here's to hoping that this young Kestrel recovers quickly!
Burning brash in the woodland
Wednesday, October 10th 2018
Before I talk about brash burning in the conifer woodland I'm going to mention yesterday's visit to the Reserve by the Harrogate U3A Naturalist Group.
The morning of the group's visit was led by our very own Christine Meek, who took the group around the Reserve hunting for fungi, for which they were very much rewarded!
Here are just some of the fungi found by the group on their mid-morning walk about, some others are yet to be ID'd by our Monitoring & Surveying Volunteers as we speak.
Today we have been working with the Risedale Rangers in the conifer woodland over the other side of Risedale Beck.
This is a continuation of previous work carried out with the group, only today we started to burn the brash collected over the past month.
Willow Carr and timber collection
Tuesday, October 9th 2018
We continued our work on the Willow Carr coppice today with the volunteers. It is starting to look a lot thinner, and while there is a fair way to go, we are making good progress.
We have kept some of the thicker Birch wood to make bird feeders, and some of the thinner Willow wood to make pumpkin carving tool handles.
All the Birch stumps have been cut about a foot off the ground, and will be cut again down to ground level, after which they will be stump treated.
We also had a trip to our store to collect some long lengths of timber to repair the boardwalk in the woodland. After removing some of the tread boards with the children from Risedale Sports and Community College last week, we realised the whole supporting lengths were rotten and need replacing.
Little jobs and path cutting
Monday, October 8th 2018
Countless little jobs that keep the Reserve up and running have been carried out today, from events and school bookings, to reports and infrastructure inspections.
Of more interest, and considerably more blog-worthy, has been the work carried out by Imogen to keep paths open and clear of vegetation.
One of the paths in need of cutting is affectionately known as Dog-Daisy Avenue, due to the wonderful display of Ox-Eye Daisy (Leucanthemum vulgare) that line the path and put on quite a show in late Jun, July and August.
As with any meadow, ride or wildflower patch, removing cut vegetation is highly important as it acts to reduce the fertility of the soil and the proclivity of competitive grass species to take over, giving wildflowers like the Ox-Eye Daisy as chance to shine.
The First Frost
Sunday, October 7th 2018
Windscreens had to be scraped before the bird ringers headed to Foxglove due to the first frost of the autumn. However there were only some pockets of frost around the reserve.
These fungi were covered in frost.
A spider's web built amongst the red Bramble leaves was also caught.
Nets were raised and net rounds carried out. A Blackcap and a Chiffchaff were ringed, presumably on their way south. Long-tailed Tits arrived in the ringing room.
As did a Treecreeper, whose beautiful markings help to camouflage it against the tree bark, as it searches for insects.
The frost soon lifted and the day was cool with a mixture of sun and cloud. The wind increased so the nets were taken down early in the afternoon. In total 144 birds were ringed including 22 Blue Tits and 24 Coal Tits. Two Great Tits ringed in the nest boxes in the spring of 2017 were processed.
Many thanks to everyone who helped today.
Saturday, October 6th 2018
Last week we searched the area where the Elfin Saddle Fungi grow. Not a one to be seen. This week there were plenty. Not the typical toadstool type at all!
These, more typical fungi, were releasing their white spores and as they were almost stacked one on top of the other, so those lower down were coated white.
Hardheads or Knapweed can still be found in flower if you search for them.
Sycamore leaves over the beck was a change of colour to those more associated with autumn.
Even more searching and some insects can be still be found. A Common Green Shield Bug was well camouflaged.
Tracks and Signs
Friday, October 5th 2018
Today we've been getting all of the odd jobs done, from maintainign chainsaws and other equipment, to updating signage and checking mink rafts.
The mink raft near the entrance to the Reserve shows signs of predators, notice the difference between the cat and fox prints, the most obvious being the retracted (and therefore lacking) claws on that of the cat.
The UK is home to 7.4 million domestic cats, which are thought to kill around 55 million birds a year. The number of mammals killed by cats is likely to be around three times greater according to most studies, including that by Woods, McDonald & Harris (2016).
It's not all doom and gloom though, as we have found recent evidence to suggest that our Water Vole population is still persevering near to the site at which these tracks were found!
Elsewhere we have a similar story, with numerous domestic cat tracks found on the mink raft located on the Scrapes. I guess we should be thankful that we have not seen any signs of Mink on the Reserve of late!
As always, Colin has been in filling up feeders in preparation for bird ringing, which will be taking place from 0800 on Sunday (7th), and which all are welcome to come along and see what the Swaledale Ringers Group get up to.
The grass is always greener
Thursday, October 4th 2018
The morning was spent surveying the boundary fence with the volunteers for any sheep sized gaps, through which they have been making their way onto the reserve. The grass is always greener on the other side as they say!
Following this, we continued working on the Willow Coppice that we started on Tuesday, although most of the work involved removing Birch and some Hawthorn. It is a job which will keep us busy throughout most of the winter, although we are making good progress with all the enthusiastic volunteers.
Most of the cut vegetation was burnt on a bonfire, with some being left to build habitat piles. And we even managed to finish working just in time to avoid the drizzle.
Although most of the work could be done with hand tools, the chainsaw made short work of some of the larger Birch and Willow trees.
Woodland tidy with the Risedale Rangers
Wednesday, October 3rd 2018
We've been working with children from Risedale Sports & Community College in the woodland on the other side of Risedale Beck again today. This has involved a continuation of the tidying up that we were doing last week whilst also starting work on repairing some of the boardwalks.
In order to renovate the said boardwalk it has been necessary to remove all of the tread boards so as to be able to assess the condition of the joists underneath. This was a job the boys relished as it involved a degree of controlled destruction.
In the afternoon Imogen and I have busied ourselves with removing detritus from the Outdoor Classroom roof.
The job may sound a little mundane, however any jobs in which you can see what you've done as you go along is an enjoyable one!
Willow Carr Coppicing
Tuesday, October 2nd 2018
The day has finally come for us to start coppicing Coupe 5 of the Reserve's Willow Carr.
Coppicing is a traditional woodland management technique whereby you cut a tree (typically Willow, Hazel, Birch or Alder) at the base from which new shoots will grow. A wood that is managed in this way is called a copse and is split into different areas called coupes which are cut on rotation (here at Foxglove we cut biennially).
In doing so a crop is available every couple of years and the lifespan of the tree extended well beyond it's usual lifespan. The benefits of coppicing for the environment are many; management in this way creates a mosaic of different woodland ages structures that can support a diverse array of species, whereas the constructed habitat piles become home to many small mammals and invertebrates. For more information on the benefits of coppicing for wildlife see Fuller & Warren (1993).
The picture above shows a newly coppiced Willow tree, the remaining cut tree is called the stool.
Although we burn a fair amount of the cut material we ensure that a lot is kept aside for the construction of habitat piles.
The section that we have started on within Coupe 5 has many unwanted Silver Birch saplings that are beginning to crowd out everything else. At present these have been left cut high, but will be re-cut lower down and stump treated.
Imogen’s First Day
Monday, October 1st 2018
Today was Imogen's first day as Trainee Reserve Manager at Foxglove having previously worked with the RSPB at Bempton Cliffs as a seabird researcher and with Berkshire, Buckinghamshire, Oxfordshire Wildlife Trust (BBOWT) as a Wildlife Trainee. Although the majority of the day was taken up with induction admin tasks we managed to get stuck into some practical work during the late afternoon.
We have busied ourselves with cutting a few of the mini meadows where the wildflowers have finally gone to seed.
This would now be categorised as a very late hay cut, which is advantageous when trying to allow some of the later emerging species (such as Devil's-bit Scabious) to break through heavy grass sward.