Blog Archive (30) Posts Made in November 2018

Roadwork repairs

Friday, November 30th 2018

No rest for Ian's last day. The first job of the morning was to fill all the potholes which had surfaced on the access road. This started out by filling the trailer with aggregate from near the bus shelter…

...and filling each hole up all along the road. 

The next job was to compact the aggregate down using a wacker plate so that it hopefully doesn't come loose again with future cold spells. 

The jobs this afternoon included preparing the coppice site for tomorrow's Winter Worky Day, including marking any trees to be kept and preparing the fire site. Meanwhile Ian has been busy tidying up the chainsaw store as well as sharpening all the chainsaws, the polesaw and hedgetrimmer. 

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Odd Jobs

Thursday, November 29th 2018

It has been an odd jobs kind of day today; from fixing mink rafts, to tidying the Bullet Catcher Store and cleaning the Porta Cabin in preparation for Saturday's Winter Worky Day.

We have spent most of the afternoon burning down at the Bullet Catcher, along with removing broken tree tubes.

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A Day for Ducks

Wednesday, November 28th 2018

We had a successful day for ducks over at Bellflask yesterday where we had the biggest catch of new birds in 10 years; catching 13 Moorhen and 5 Mallard (1 retrap). 

It was quite the operation, with bags dropped off for Imogen, rendezvous with Mick (who came all the way from Warcop!) and meeting up with Brian to empty the trap and bag the birds.

Between Imogen, Mick and Sophie the birds were quickly ringed and released back at Bellflask; the retrapped Mallard had been originally ringed on the 1st of January 2018.

Today was another day for ducks, with the rain constant throughout. I took the Risedale Rangers back up into the conifer block on the far side of Risedale Beck where we continued to burn brash.

Meanwhile Imogen spent most of the day giving Willie a helping hand with the new Cascade Pond dams.

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Hindu Pyre Habitat Pile

Tuesday, November 27th 2018

We finished processing the cut timber from the first two sections of coupe 5 today; some of which was made into rounds for firewood and transported to the Bullet Catcher Store. 

Others were used to create our second major habitat pile this winter which we all felt looked quite aesthetically pleasing! 

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Hot off the Press

Monday, November 26th 2018

Today we had a visit from Richmondshire District Council along with a photographer to take pictures of the new panels installed in the outdoor classroom for a future press release. They played a big part in securing the funding in order to install the panels, which will be of great benefit to hundreds of school children who visit the reserve each year.

The other tasks of the day included tidying up in the two coppice areas which are very close to being completed behind and to the right of the Field Centre. This included burning any remaining brash, and finishing building habitat piles like this one which will hopefully become home to many creepy crawlies and maybe small mammals too. 

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A Panoramic View

Sunday, November 25th 2018

It was a slightly damp but mild day on the reserve, and the first job was to check up on the ponies. For the first time they had ventured to the other end of the Moorland, and were there to greet me through the gate, although they soon followed me up to the Stone Circle in the hope of more carrots or apples. 

Today's jobs included burning a big pile of brash from Thursdays' volunteer work party, as well as filling all the bird feeders around the reserve. The Sparrow Hawk made several appearances around the Field Centre, swooping down to try and catch a snack off the feeders. 

The new hand rail in front of the Lake hide has been installed…

...and the first dam on the cascading ponds is taking shape with 15 wooden sleepers for the water to flow over. 

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Moth Trapping

Saturday, November 24th 2018

We made the decision that we would continue to put the moth trap out on a Tuesday evening, over the winter, weather permitting.  Since that decision was made the moth trap has been out once!  Heavy rain, cold and strong winds that could easily see the trap not where it was originally placed at the beginning of the evening, have been the norm.  I have just checked the ten day forecast and the trap looks like it will be staying put in the Field Centre!  Ah well fingers crossed we may get some good weather.

Looking at the weather made me go back and look at some of the moths we have caught over the year.  

The Ruby Tiger always stands out in the trap as it is very red.  The caterpillar feeds on various herbaceous plants including ragworts and plantains, Heather and also Spindle, which is a small tree.

Ruby Tiger

Straw Dot is a small moth and we caught many of them this year.  Grasses are the main food plant for the caterpillar.

Straw Dot

From late August through to October we may catch the Frosted Orange Moth.  The larval food plants include Foxglove, Hemp Agrimony, thistles and figworts.

Frosted Orange

There are plenty of Willows and some Aspens on the reserve and these feed many species of caterpillar, including The Herald.  This moth hibernates as an adult and emerges from hiberation in March and flies through to June.  The second sightings are between August and October once the pupa has hatched.

The Herald

We do see moths on the wing whilst out for our ambles around the reserve.  The Antler Moth enjoys feeding from Ragwort, and usually sits still for a photograph.

Antler Moth

Whilst looking closely I noticed that this one had managed to get rather a lot of pollen on his antennae.  It is a male as it has feathered antennae.  This increases the surface area so that he can detect female pheromones to enable him to find a mate.

Well pollened antenna

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Checking Photographs

Friday, November 23rd 2018

Finding photographs for the web site, displays and blogs often means looking back through many that I have taken.  The lake changes with the seasons, daily and sometimes even through the day.  Sunshine and stillness are good for reflections, no matter what time of year. 

The lake

Spring, I think my favourite season, shows the surroundings of the lake clothed in all the greens you can imagine, with hints of colour here and there.

The lake in spring

By this time of year bugs and beasties are far and few between but there may be something lurking somewhere.  I did not think that this Kidney Spot Ladybird was in a sensible place.  It was covered in water droplets, one quite large one.

Water droplet covered Kidney Spot Ladybird

Water droplets make good photographs, even though the apple looks a little worse for wear.

Apple and water droplet

Checking the photographs I nearly always come across some of the ponies.  They now have thick fluffy coats.

Exmoor Pony

Exmoor Pony

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Dams and deluge

Thursday, November 22nd 2018

Despite set backs caused by generators and excessive rainfall over the last couple of days, Willie has managed to get the first of the Cascade Pond dams in place.

Meanwhile we've been busy tidying up log piles and finishing off parts of this year's coppice block, going so far as to completely pollard the large Willow near to the Field Centre.

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Waterworks on the Reserve

Wednesday, November 21st 2018

Today has been a day for all things water, with the rain to top it all off. Willie has been busy continuing work rebuilding the dams in the Cascading Ponds. He has been draining the ponds (which has been an ongoing task with the heavy rainfall over the last couple of days), and will be rebuilding them using clay and large wooden sleepers. 

Meanwhile at the other end of the Lake, work is being undertaken to replace the hand rails in front of the Lake Hide, another job which isn't made any easier in the rain, especially with the lake being higher than usual. 

And on the other side of the reserve again on the Wetland, we have cleared a large pile of reeds which were pulled from the pond a couple of weeks ago. The reeds were left to dry out on the side to allow any pond dwellers to escape back into the pond before being removed. 

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Back to where we started

Tuesday, November 20th 2018

We've been working on burning through brash, and coppicing the remaining Willow within the first section of coupe 5 that we started work on at the beginning of October (2nd). 

Despite a very cold and wet start Brian got the fire going somehow, and we had burnt through all but the last bits and pieces by 15:30.

Meanwhile John and Imogen have been busying themselves with many different odd jobs; from boardwalk and gate repairs, to fixing cameras and sorting out batteries. 

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Chainsaw Work

Monday, November 19th 2018

This morning was spent bringing all the net poles in from the net rides which won't be used over the winter. 

We spent some time this afternoon continuing work in the Coppice block, with Ian on the chainsaw coppicing a lot of the Willow, ready to be processed by our volunteers tomorrow. 

There are still a few spectacular Autumnal fungi around the reserve, including this bright orange Fly agaric

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The Elevator Net

Sunday, November 18th 2018

An early decision was made to open the elevator net in an area near the bus shelter where lots of Blackbirds and Redwings had been seen feeding on the haw berries.  It was a team task to ensure that everything was correctly positioned before the nets were raised high.

Raising the elevator net

The pulley system was used to get the net to the top of the poles.

Raising the net

Apologies for the photo, which makes the net pole look at an angle but I can assure you it was not!

Completed elevator nets

As the net rounds were carried out Redwing and Blackbirds were returned from this net.  We think that some of the Blackbirds ringed were migrants, due to their much larger size and darker hue.


At the other end of the scale Goldcrests were also ringed.


Looking out of the kitchen window, along with Coal, Blue and Great Tits there is often a Marsh Tit feeding. We caught some of these today also.

Marsh Tit

During the early afternoon the sky was blue showing the Scrapes in their full autumnal colours.

The Scrapes

No wind was ideal for reflections on the lake.


Reflections in the lake

At the end of the day the elevator net had to be taken down and again a team was needed for this task.

Taking down the elevator net

As the bird ringing team headed back to the Field Centre to tidy up the sky had a hint of pink.

An evening sky

A good day with a variety of species of birds to ring.  Several visitors spent time in the ringing room..  Many thanks to everyone who was involved today.

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A Wednesday Walk Around

Saturday, November 17th 2018

No moth trap again to empty on Wednesday morning due to the forecast wind, which actually seemed very variable depending upon where you lived.  It is not looking good this Tuesday night either.  On checking the Field Centre we did find several moths including November Moth, Spruce Carpet and Mottled Umber.

We fed the Mallards and wached as they climbed out onto the bank, accompanied by Moorhens and the male Wigeon.  As usual the camera had to be pushed beyond its real capabilities, but you can see the three species of water bird in the photo, all enjoying the food.

Water birds feeding

Walking through the Sycamore Avenue, we were reminded of our childhoods, as we enjoyed the sound of rustling leaves.

Sycamore Avenue

Sitting tightly on the bark of a tree was a harvestman.


Oak leaves caught our attention, not showing holes, the probable tell tale signs of a caterpillar, but the veins of the leaf.  A leaf mine had eaten the leaf leaving behind the veins.   A close look and there was an insect almost camouflaged against the damage. (Bottom left ish.)

Leaf mine damage

Some species have regular habitats and we can almost guarentee that they will be there at certain times of the year.  Fly Agaric grows on the bank of the beck, leaving the wetland.  Yes, a large one was growing through the vegetation.

Fly Agaric

On the beck, Water Crickets continued to dance amongst the overhanging vegetation.  Not a brilliant photo as it was rather dull and the vegetation was casting shadows and making patterns on the water.

Water Crickets

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Ponies and Diggers

Friday, November 16th 2018

An introduction to our ponies, including our two new arrivals. They have settled in nicely as a herd, and are enjoying exploring their new home. 

Taurus and Lark are our year-round residents and are on loan from the Yorkshire Exmoor Pony Trust (YEPT); they have been with us for just over a year.

Taurus, a 14 year old Gelding is smaller and more ginger than Lark with quite a fringe on him. He has quite the appetite and never says no to a carrot or apple. 

Lark, officially Northcroft Skylark, is a 15 year old Gelding that has been sharing his home with Taurus for a number of years. With just the two of them, Lark is quite the boss, and makes sure Taurus is aware of that, however, that has all changed now with the arrival of our two new residents. 

Fawn, officially Anchor Fawn, is one of our new residents who we are slowly getting to know. She is very calm and sweet natured and is the youngest of the pack at 8 years old. She looks quite similar to Taurus, however she is taller and has a darker mane.  Finally, there is the old man Corvus, 23 years old and the new boss of the pack. He is probably the easiest to recognise, a dark mousey brown, small and stocky, usually the first one to food!

From left to right: Taurus, Lark, Fawn and Corvus. 

Meanwhile Willie has begun work on rebuilding the dams in the Cascading Ponds. The old dams were leaking, so they are being completely rebuilt to waterproof them. 

The first job is to drain all three ponds and dig out the current dams, to then install new wooden sleepers supported up with clay.

It's been a foggy day on the reserve, which makes for quite magical woodlands. 

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Risedale Rangers

Wednesday, November 14th 2018

The Risedale Rangers were in again today, tidying up broken down dead hedges.

Meanwhile Imogen has been hard at work clearing routes through to the Cascade Ponds at the head of the Lake ready for work to begin tomorrow morning repairing the dams.

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More Coppicing

Tuesday, November 13th 2018

Today has been another day of coppicing around the Field Centre with the volunteers. With blue skies overhead, Birch was cut and treated, Willow was coppiced, and Hawthorn was pollarded. 

Ian was busy with the chainsaw and pole saw getting some of the bigger trees, and pollarding some of the Willows and Hawthorn. 

The area is looking a lot clearer, with the exception of a few more Willow trees to coppice. Thank you to everyone who came and helped today. 

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Two New Residents!

Monday, November 12th 2018

Today marked the exciting arrival of two new additions to the Foxglove team, meet Fawn (left) and Corvus (right), our two new Exmoor ponies. They will be with us throughout the winter, not only keeping our two current ponies, Lark and Taurus company, but also playing an important role in grazing the reserve. 

Fawn is about seven years old, making her the youngest of the pack, while Corvus is about twenty years old, making him the eldest and wisest (maybe…) of the group. 

All four ponies will now spend the winter on the Moorland, where they will help deliver our conservation grazing. Grazing by ponies, as well as sheep and cattle in some places, is a great natural way to manage many different habitats, including the Moorland, Wetland and Heathland here at Foxglove. 

Lark and Taurus (below), our year-round resident ponies, were excited to not only move onto the Moorland, but also to meet the two new arrivals. 

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A Redwing Day

Sunday, November 11th 2018

The nets were opened as the mist hung around the reserve.  I had hoped that it was the right kind of mist to highlight many webs, but only a few were on show.  This one was spun on the fence surrounding the heath.

Spider web

Redwings were in abundance and it was not long before the first one arrived in the ringing room.  They migrate from Scandinavia as the winter closes in and the berry crop decreases.  Once they reach Foxglove they feed on our berry crop, particularly the Hawthorns.

Hawthorn Berries

Redwings are beautiful thrushes and this one looked rather majestic!


There were also Blackbirds and Blue Tits amongst the birds caught.  A Great Tit ringed in a nest box in Stone Cutters Wood, just outside Foxglove was retrapped.  Long-tailed Tits, Goldfinch, Goldcrest and Coal Tits all made an appearance in the ringing room.

Just after lunch the mist had cleared and there was blue sky, showing off the autumn colours around the lake where the Wigeon remained in evidence.

The lake

A check on the walls of the Field Centre revealed several moths, including Winter Moth, Mottled Umber and Angle Shades. The more we work with the moths to identify and photograph them, the more we have learnt which ones co-operate and sit still and which are likey to fly off.  Angle Shades nearly always begins to flutter its wings ready to fly off so trying to get an in focus photograph of its patterned wings is almost impossible.  I opted for a sideways shot!

Angle Shades

Many thanks to everyone who helped today, despite some drizzle it was rewarding and fun.  

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That and This

Saturday, November 10th 2018

Recent weather has been variable, with sun and warmth, cool and cooler, rain, wind, snow and frosts.  Each type of weather shows the reserve in a different light.  Frost left lichens coated, making them look like Christmas decorations.

Frost coated lichens

Bramble leaves were covered too.

Frost coated Bramble leaves

It has to be the right sort of rain for water droplets to form and Sloe berries were ideal hosts.

Water droplet on Sloe berry

Larch trees are turning yellow gold and can be see standing proud against the other dark green conifers.  Soon their needles will fall, coating the ground and paths a beautiful warm autumn colour.


Our lake is attracting some visitors.  A Pintail has been recorded and now a male Widgeon.

Make Widgeon

The Mallards were ignoring him as they sat on their tree resting and preening.

Mallard on the tree in the lake

If you are beginning your Christmas shopping there are new books, for adults and children, for sale in the Field Centre.

Book shop

New books

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Duck Traps and Tree Pulling

Friday, November 9th 2018

It's been a rather damp and misty day on the reserve, although this does make it rather mysterious and magical. 

One of the jobs this afternoon was to clear the duck trap on the Lake, which will hopefully be used during Sunday's ringing session to possibly catch Mallards, Moorhens, or maybe even our two new visitors in the last couple of weeks, a Pintail and a Wigeon.

One of the jobs this morning was to start clearing an area filled with Willow and Birch saplings. The trees were pulled up by the roots, in the hope that they won't come back quite so quickly. Although the area is surrounded with Birch and Willow trees, all patiently waiting for me to clear it to then drop their seeds straight into the nice open space. And the whole process is repeated again!

I had a competition (with myself which didn't make it all that exciting) to try and get the longest root, this Birch took the crown…  

Meanwhile, our volunteer Colin has been filling all the bird feeders up in preparation for Sunday's ringing session, quite a big job with so many feeders around the reserve. 

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Richmond Coffee Morning

Thursday, November 8th 2018

It's amazing how quickly the Coffee Mornings come around, it seems like just yesterday that we had the last one!

We began setting up at 08:00 taking with us a large portion of the Foxglove Shop along with a huge quantity of cakes and plants for sale (thanks to everyone who donated plants and cakes to sell today).

We seem to be getting pretty good setting up as we were ready to go as of 08:45, with our first customer coming in ahead of schedule.

We experienced the usual slow start with the majority of people coming in around 11:00 and filling the hall quite nicely. All in all we entertained over 55 people!

I would like to take this opportunity to say a big thank you to everyone that turned out to help Foxglove today, especially Colin, Pauline, Janet, and Kate who expertly manned stalls, tables and tombolas to raise £350 for the Reserve.

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Coffee Morning Prep

Wednesday, November 7th 2018

Wednesdays before Thursdays Coffee Mornings are always busy.  Donations stored in the bunk room over the last couple of weeks were carried into the Activity Room and sorted into 'tables'.  The Christmas table was checked and repacked.  If you are looking for Christmas pressies then please visit our table.

Christmas Table Goodies

Although late autumn there is also a Gardening table with bulbs and plants. 

The tombola and raffle were organised, not forgetting the raffle tickets.

Organising the tombola and raffle

Cakes had been baked and were neatly placed together.

Preparation for the Coffee Morning

When it was all sorted and packed we did a double check to make sure that we had not forgetten anything.  We realised that it would be helpful if we had some tea and coffee!

Thank you very much to the volunteers who helped this morning.  Your contribution is really appreciated.  Thank you also to everyone who has made donations and baked cakes.

If you would like to come to our Coffee Morning it is held at Richmond Town Hall from 9 till 12.  A warm welcome will await you.

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Willow Carr Coppice Overview

Wednesday, November 7th 2018

Over the last month I have been refering to Coupe 5 of the Willow Carr without properly defining what, where and how we manage it as part of our biennial coppicing and pollarding work.

Firstly, what is Willow Carr? Carr, or kjarr, is an old Norse word for swamp and is defined as being a waterlogged wooded terrain with the potential to develop into a climax woodland via succession. The Willow Carr here at Foxglove is the largest such area in Swaledale and is managed so as to prevent succession towards Birch and then Oak woodland by removal of scrub and through the process of coppicing and pollarding. For more information regarding coppicing and pollarding see our previous blogs!

Coppice woodlands, referred to as a copse, are split up into areas called coupes which are cut on rotation creating a mosaic of different woodland ages structures that can support a diverse array of species.

This winter's activities are centred about Coupe 5 (shown below in orange), stretching from just south of the Field Centre all the way up to the west of the single Heath paddock; an area of around 2.8 acres of mostly overstood and Birch dominated Willow Carr.

We're now almost one month into activities in Coupe 5, having cleared the majority of Birch and thinned most of the Hawthorn within the area shown in green hash below. 

Within the area there is still a lot of work to be done coppicing and pollarding Willow, a task which is likely to take some time as we are having to take a tree by tree approach to managing the Willow stools so as to maximise the amount of viable Willow to coppice and pollard in the future.

One way in which we will achieve this is by 'layering'. The principal behind layering is that when you 'wound' certain species, nature responds by exaggerated regeneration. If a sapling is both wounded and then bent horizontally, the regeneration takes the form of dozens of fast-growing vertical shoots, which will provide a rich source of timber over a cycle of about 10 years.

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Another Late Finish

Tuesday, November 6th 2018

We continue to work on coppicing and pollarding an area of Willow Carr near to the Field Centre, processing four large Willows today alone!

Meanwhile work has also continued on the Green Route boardwalk, spearheaded by John and Imogen who are yet to finish at the time of writing.

Fixing a boardwalk that was made off site and dropped in place, as opposed to one made in situ is always more difficult; especially when the original boardwalk lacked a proper approach to begin with.

It has been this approach which John and Imogen have been working on today, along with new mesh covering for grip and cladding around the outside. 

This picture of the finished product (sent by Imogen via email at 16:50) gives a sense of the scope of the project, but not of the many hidden complexities that a job like this throws up.

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Honeybee Houdini

Monday, November 5th 2018

Work has continued on the coppice block near to the Field Centre today, with five Willows pollarded ready for processing tomorrow with the volunteers.

Meanwhile we had some escapees in the Field Centre this afternoon…

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Things Various

Sunday, November 4th 2018

Ferns were found in the coppice block.  This one was tall but as yet, it remains un-named.


The second we found is much smaller and is Hard Fern. 

Hard Fern

Whilst out wandering around a Kidney Spot Ladybird was spotted on top of a bridge rail, not the best place to be.

Kidney Spot Ladybird

A very co-operative Frog or Leaf Hopper obliged by sitting still and not living up to its name by 'hopping' away.

Frog or Leaf Hopper

This tiny insect also sat still and it is quite amazing.

Tiny insect

Down on the Lake the Mallards were enjoying their feed.

Mallards feeding

After a drink and a bathe they found that the duck raft was the ideal place to finish their preening and have a rest.

Mallards on the duck raft.

A reminder that the Foxglove Coffee Morning is being held in Richmond Town hall on Thrusday, from 9 till 12.  If you have any donations for the raffle, tombola or cake stall please bring them to the Field Centre or take them to the Town Hall on Thursday morning.  Thank you.

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Winter Worky Day

Saturday, November 3rd 2018

Today was our first Winter Worky day of the season, thank you very much to all the volunteers who came to help. 

We started work on another section of the coppice, just to the right of the Field Centre, firstly removing all the Birch trees, followed by pollarding large Willow Trees. Small oak saplings, as well as a Rowan, a Field Maple, Alder Buckthorn and some impressive ferns were found in the area. 

Before: the area was dense with small self-seeded Birch trees which were swamping some lovely trees in the centre, and even growing into a dried up pond on the corner. 

After: we managed to clear a significant area which suddenly looked a lot more open this afternoon. A large bonfire was had, even if slightly early for Bonfire Night. 

Now all we needed was a Guy and a few fireworks… 

We have our next Winter Worky Day on Saturday the 1st of December from 10:00 to approximately 15:00, with a cooked lunch provided. Feel free to get in touch with us if you were like to volunteer, we wouldn't be able to do all the work we do without the help of volunteers. 

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A Pintail on the Lake!

Friday, November 2nd 2018

We've had an exciting new arrival on the Lake this week, a very smart male Pintail. Its white front stood out among the Mallards and Moorhens, we hope he sticks around for a little longer. 

We had our Owl Pellet Discovery for kids event this morning. After a walk around to see some of the Owl boxes around the reserve, the children began their Pellet dissection. 

The first task was to dissect the pellets to see what could be found…

Next was to glue what was found onto a card for display. The children found bones and skulls of both mice and voles, tasty snacks for owls. 

We were missing our regular volunteer Colin today who is having a well deserved break in Scotland. This meant it was our turn to do the seed and peanut round of all the feeders. The birds at Foxglove sure seem to be able to get through some food! 


One of the jobs of the day was to check the mink rafts around the reserve. One of them, by the bullet catcher pond, had quite a few different prints, including a brave Grey Squirrel and a regular domestic cat, amoung others which are yet to be identified. 

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Boardwalk repair and Oak trees

Friday, November 2nd 2018

Today a couple of us have been busying ourselves continuing with the repair of the boardwalk in the woodland. We reinforced the frame, screwed the ends onto the frame and started to attach the boards onto it.

It is starting to come together, a few more boards and some chicken wire and the boardwalk will be open for business again.

A few holes yet to fill, but the first walk across proved successful!

Meanwhile, the rest of the Thursday volunteer team continued work in the Willow coppice, including felling Hawthorn and coppicing the Willow. Lots of oak saplings were found scattered throughout the coppice, which were protected from the deer with tree tubes.


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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.

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Upcoming Events

Winter Worky Day

Sunday 10th December 2023 | 10.00am - 3.00pm


Join our staff and volunteers for a fun day of practical habitat management. Will be coppicing willow, burning the cut material on a bonfire (a great way to dry out and keep warm!) Please bring along a packed lunch, come ready for all weather conditions and bring your oldest outdoor clothes as tasks will be mucky. Booking is essential for this FREE event.


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