Blog Archive (21) Posts Made in January 2019

Help for Heroes and Yorkshire Yaks

Thursday, January 31st 2019

Working on the current wetland restoration project for Coxon Brothers happens to be Adam, founder of Yorkshire Yaks fundraisers. He is truly inspirational having survived a rare form of cancer, pseudomyxoma peritonei. You can read more about his story and fundraising activities on his Facebook page. As you can see he is in fine fettle now! Work on this habitat is making excellent progress and is helped by the low temperatures (-6.5 this morning) as the frozen ground is easier to track along in diggers and dumper trucks.

Continuing to clear brash was another group of heroes, this time from Help for Heroes who worked all day to burn the pine branches. Our sincere thanks go to this team for giving up their time to lend a hand with this gigantic task.

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A Mighty Team

Tuesday, January 29th 2019

We were back in the coppice block today, and with seven regular volunteers and the Dales School to help us, we finished one section and made a start on the next!

While it was a slightly damp day with some drizzly snow, spirits were high as we tackled a large Birch and Gorse area to clear a fire site. Machetes and jungle hats may have been more appropriate!

Just when it was thought we might be getting somewhere, more gorse seemed to appear, but the volunteers persevered and managed to clear a large area. 

It was soon time for a well earned coffee rest, with delicious cakes from Sophie, and mince meat puff pastries from Ian.

Back to work, and it was time to start pollarding a couple of large Willow trees, which always brings a surprising amount of wood down!

Time for lunch, and Brian, our potato master, was in charge of cooking the baked potatoes in the fire to the children's delight from the Dales School. 

It was all admiration and amazement for Sophie's sandwich which was nearly bigger than her own head!

At the end of day, a hot pile of coals was the perfect way to dry off after the snow, steaming trousers are a sign of a good day.

Thank you to everyone who came to help today. 

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Fun in the Mud

Monday, January 28th 2019

Work had continued on the wetland today under glorious Yorkshire blue skies.

The dredging has begun, and the diggers were found in the ponds, extracting the overgrown vegetation and rebuilding the banks. It certainly is a muddy job!

Sophie and Elizabeth spent some time down on the wetland to mark out areas of Pillwort in the ponds so that it is isn’t disturbed. While it may only look like some slightly unexciting grass in the pond, Pillwort is a type of creeping fern, and is internationally threatened and only found on a small number of sites across the country. We are lucky to have it here at Foxglove, and we will make sure it is left untouched during the work.

Meanwhile Sean and David were back in the conifer woodland finishing off the Greenworks. With another dozen or so trees to fell and some timber to remove, they are hoping to be finished by the end of this week.  

The ponies enjoyed some hay after a cold night and day out on the Moorland. I’m sure they are glad to be well out of the way of the diggers and tractors!

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A Different Kettle of Fish!

Sunday, January 27th 2019

It was a bit of a family affair at the reserve today as members of Sophie's family were coerced into volunteering! Picture's are thanks to Hedley who has an eye for a good photograph and a much better phone than his Mum! Whin is always a favourite subject and never strays far from the picnic bag! The peach and rosemary campfire cake from Friday was a highlight, tasting even better cold than it did when it was hot.

A Different Kettle of Fish

Old Rhona was looking concerned at how much work was still to be done tidying the woodland after Sean's forestry work. This is due to continue this week so the woodland walk remains out of bounds for now. Once the work is completed the Reserve Managers and volunteers will be busy here for a few more days yet. If you would like to help then please get in touch, no experience is necessary and tools, protective clothing and cake are provided alongside lashings of tea and coffee!


Water in Risedale Beck was looking murkier than usual (it is normally crystal clear) after prolonged rainfall during the night. The rain is quite a blessing when burning brash in a conifer plantation. Until now the ground has been exceptionally dry for the time of year.

Risedale Beck

This photo, taken by lying on the ground, shows what a difference the recent greenworks have made to the woodland canopy and just how much more light will reach the forest floor during the summer months. It will be interesting to return later in the year to see which dormant wildflowers flourish here. Wood Anemone, Foxglove and Bluebells are some of the expected species.


There are only two more weekend Winter Worky Days left. They are on Saturday 2nd February and Saturday 2nd March. If you would like to join in please contact the Reserve Managers or book through the website events page. There are also plenty of activities for families during the half term holidays.

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Wetland Work and Fire Experiments

Friday, January 25th 2019

Work on the wetland is making good progress, with the bank rebuilt, new pipes installed, the dredging has started on the nearest ponds. A difference can already be noticed, and we are excited to see all the changes in the coming weeks.

A little snow a few days ago didn’t slow the digging rate!

With an impressive ash pile left from yesterday’s fire, we decided to experiment a little. Having done baked potatoes and S’mores, it was time to step up our game and try to bake a cake on the fire.

The unbaked cake looked rather impressive, with a rather unusual combination of Peach and Rosemary.

The cake was placed on some hot stones on the ash.

Oven management as its finest!

While the finished product might look less than appetizing and lightly charred, it did taste delicious and wasn’t a bad result for a first try.

To add to a rather unusual day, a female Bullfinch was found this afternoon in front of one of our cabins. It looked rather stunned, and didn't fly away when approached. It was brought back to the Field Centre for a little TLC, and soon perked up again. 

After half an hour in the warm, and a few minutes posing for the camera, it flew off strongly and was seen preening in a nearby tree.


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Snap, Crackle and Pop

Thursday, January 24th 2019

With the Greenworks in the conifer plantation nearing completion, we were able to get in today to tidy up some of the brash that has been left behind.

Unfortunately a fire is the only realistic way of removing it all, although many of the larger branches are being kept to re-build the edges of footpaths and to make log piles throughout the woodland for all our minibeasts. 

It all started off small… 

...and soon became an impressive fire. The amazing crackling sound of the needles due to their high sap content could be heard right across the reserve. 

We were very grateful to all our volunteers who came and helped us today, including two new volunteers from the Beacon in Catterick Garrison who helped us shift a huge amount of brash. 

Meanwhile Ian could have been in the tree tops while posing with one of the very tops of the Spruces. 

Thank you to everyone who came to help, many hands make light work. 

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A Wintery Wednesday Medley

Wednesday, January 23rd 2019

Frost coated vegetation across the reserve making it look like a winter wonderland.

The Risedale Rangers helped out by marking out the special UK Flagship ponds on the wetland so that the contractors can avoid damaging them. They then took some hay to feed the Exmoor ponies out on the moor.

The ponies appeared to be most grateful although it was just a token gesture to get up close and check these hardy wild animals.


Later on, Oliver and Richard from MoD Conservation came to the Field Centre to present the team with a brand new moth trap. This will be put to good use once the weather warms up. 

The conservationists then headed up to see the green works in the woodland which is near completion.

Work also continued to restore the wetland with good progress being made by James and his colleagues. The sunny winter conditions have been perfect for all of these big projects to progress, all good news as it is now a race against time before Spring arrives!

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Machinery Mayhem

Tuesday, January 22nd 2019

It's been a day for tractors, dumper trucks, quad bikes and chainsaws. Work has continued up in the conifer woodland, with the timber being removed and stacked up ready for collection in the next few days. All the trees have been felled down the slope, so a tractor with a winch has been needed to drag them back up the hill, where they have been processed and stacked on the trailer.  

Meanwhile volunteers have been busy in the coppice block once again, pollarding Willows, removing Birch trees and thinning out many of the Hawthorns which were over-crowding the area. 

With lots of material to drag, we were very grateful to have help from the Dales School in the morning. Twenty potatoes were cooked in the fire, and everyone enjoyed them for lunch! 

The ponies also enjoyed some hay this morning after a cold night and a frosty morning!

Exmoor Ponies eating hay

In both photos you can see that they have now grown their thick winter coats.

Exmoor Ponies eating hay

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Interviews and Big Projects

Monday, January 21st 2019

Following a visit from BFBS Catterick (British Services Broadcasting Service) last Tuesday, the radio feature can be found on Twitter!

While the Reserve Managers have been busy with a large workshop tidy up project, our two other big projects happening on the reserve are well under way.

The work on the wetland started just under a week ago, and the banks are being rebuilt first to provide support for the large diggers to be able to get in and move around. This means shifting an impressive quantity of clay around, thank goodness for big machines and dry weather so far!

The level of the ponds has been dropped by about half a foot to allow for easier access to the banks, but it will soon be back up to normal once the work is completed and the water is let back in through the sluice. 

The ponies have been enjoying watching the diggers at work from afar!

Meanwhile work in the connifer woodland is nearing completion, and it's fantastic to see the light coming through and reaching the forest floor. We are looking forward to seeing what grows up in the Spring!

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Sunday, January 20th 2019

It was the first ringing day of 2019.  The sky was shot with pink as the nets were raised.

Raising the nets

Net rounds returned several Bullfinches to the ringing room along with many Coal Tits that are obviously still coming onto the reserve.  Then a surprise, a Brambling, the first of this winter.  These migrants come to the UK, as the winter bites to the north and east of us.


Another first was the ice on the lake.  The Mallards were walking across it.  Around the tree in the lake, their footsteps could easily be seen.

Footsteps on the ice on the lake

Whilst washing up the Long-tailed Tits arrived for their evening feed.  Nothing unusual in that, but it was their method of feeding that amazed me.  Apologies for the not very good photo but it was taken through the kitchen window.  The Lottis were landing in the tree then dropping onto the ground.  There they searched for just the right seed, which they picked up and flew back to the tree. Hanging on with one foot they ate the seed that they were holding in the other foot!

Long-tailed Tit feeding

Whilst the bird ringing team were busy at Foxglove, Jack was ringing on Salisbury Plain.  He caught a Long Eared Owl in his mist net!  Jack has just sent this photo of his Long Eared Owl, apologising for the poor photo due to the light conditions.

Long Eared Owl

Thank you to everyone who helped today.

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New on the Observation Board

Saturday, January 19th 2019

December and January do not create too many enteries on the Observation Board, so we are always pleased when we can add something.  We know where to look for the first Hazel tree that has both male and female flowers and we were not disappointed.  Male catkins have been tightly closed until this last week when they have opened to release their pollen.

Male Hazel Catkins

The tiny red flowers often escape us until we 'get our eye in' and then we find them all over the branches.

Female Hazel Flower

The Moth Trap.  It is like a story that begins 'Once upon a time ....'.  Yes, we will trap all through the winter, we decided, but the weather has had its say, so no moth trap for weeks.  The wind has been too high, the temperature too low and or too much rain.  Even the Field Centre walls have been bare of moths.  Wednesday we found one! On identification it was recorded as Pale Brindled Beauty, with a flight season stretching from January through to March.  Larvae can be found from mid April to mid June on many of the deciduous trees including Downy and Silver Birch, Hawthorn, Blackthorn, Alder, Hazel and Goat Willow.  Newly hatched adults can have a pink tinge to their abdomens and if you look closely (and possibly squint a bit) you can just see a pink hint along his abdomen.  This is definately a male as the females are wingless, brown and not particularly hairy.

Pale Brindled Beauty Moth

On Tuesday we will take delivery of a second moth trap, kindly awarded to us from our grant application to the CSF Conservation Group Fund.  The Moth Group at Foxglove would like to thank Richard Brooks, Head of MoD Conservation, Dr Moira Owen (BSc PhD MCIEEM) and Hannah Mintram for their support and assistance.  All we need now is some good moth weather!

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Log Piles and Barn Owls

Thursday, January 17th 2019

It's been a glorious sunny day on the reserve, and what felt like the first proper day of winter with a cold wind and frost on the ground. 

The first job of the day involved taking away some temporary fencing which had been put up on the wetland to protect some planted reeds while they established themselves. The Foxglove team were not alone on the windswept wetland as staff members from Coxon Brothers  had begun to carry out some wetland restoration works with some impressive machinery!

A drive around the Training Area to collect the fencing meant we could have a look at the fruits of our foresters labour, quite an impressive log pile is building up from the tree felling in the conifer block!

Later, Raye visited with a handsome Barn Owl that he has been caring for which was found by a member of the public having been knocked by a car. Fortunately, vets found no injury so it was ringed and will be released later today or tomorrow depending on the weather conditions. A happy ending for this beautiful bird in what has been a rather poor year for this species. One theory is that the dry summer lead to a decrease in the mouse and vole population leaving the owls with a scarce food supply.

It was then Sophie's turn to do the tea and cake round up to the contractors in the woodland!

What was left of the afternoon was spent felling a couple of large Birch trees behind the Field Centre. Ian aimed them perfectly down the path and managed to avoid several small Oak sapplings and Hawthorns! This will significantly reduce the number of future Birch saplings in the Willow Carr.

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Team Wednesday

Wednesday, January 16th 2019

Team Wednesday were hard at work today organising the Field Centre. At times it looked as though they were making more mess but as the saying goes 'You can't make an omlette without cracking eggs'!

At the same time out on the wetland, the Risedale Rangers from Risedale Sports and Community College helped to remove some old fence panels that were protecting a reed bed a few years ago. This is the first step to one of our latest projects in the pipeline which is to restore the series of ponds on the main wetland. There will be more on this over the next few days.

The students worked really well as a team and had the job done before lunch. The task involved lots of problem solving! 

Thank you to all of the volunteers who gave their time both indoors and out, it is appreciated.

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A Visit From BFBS

Wednesday, January 16th 2019

Welcome to our new and improved website. This was a Management Group initiative which they see as the reserve’s shop window reflecting the enormous array of activities and quality community work that takes place consistently within the reserve. This is thanks to months of hard work behind the scenes by Jez from MakeHay  Ethical E-Media Ltd to whom we are extremely grateful.

Yesterday work continued in the coppice block with the pollarding of several large Willow trees. This ongoing project will prolong the life of these mature specimens and allow more light to reach the ground.

The brash needed to be dragged quite a distance and Eddy felt a bit like a cart horse (in his own words)!


Later in the morning, Chris Kaye presenter of the Breakfast show at BFBS (British Forces Broadcasting Service) came to do a feature on the reserve and began by interviewing the Reserve Managers.


The volunteers were interviewed next, with Naomi first in line on her first day volunteering at Foxglove, talk about being chucked in at the deep end!

It was time for a cake and tea delivery in the woodland, armed with two hard hats and two high vis jackets for extra safety, Imogen headed up to the conifer plantation. 

Next to be interviewed was Sean from Yorkshire Tree Specialist who can be seen here orchestrating the Green Works in the conifer block. He takes all this in his stride having been on TV several times in the past!

Meanwhile Brian cooked up a feast of baked potatoes on the fire!


And finally, some proof that our Exmoor ponies like the taste of fluffy Gorse!

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If You Go Down To The Woods Today…

Sunday, January 13th 2019

You're sure of a big surprise as Sean and his team from Yorkshire Tree Specialists have certainly left their mark!

Felled conifers

They have been felling mature conifer trees to make space for dormant wildflowers to grow.

New glade

The timber will be extracted over the next couple of weeks; the area will then be tidied up and all the brash burned before the plantation is made safe for reserve staff and volunteers to make good the upper paths which criss cross the extraction route.  At the moment part of the green route continues to be out of bounds due to this work.

Meet the team behind the forestry operations. Here they are enjoying a brew and a slice of cake from the Field Centre!

Tea and cake

The garden at Foxglove has been teeming with birds today, at one time eleven Long-Tailed Tits were seen feeding. There have been many flocks of these beautiful birds around for sometime. At times this afternoon they struggled in the extreme windy conditions and on occasions their long tails were blown over their heads! It is incredible that such tiny, fragile animals can survive the cold winter months. Peanuts and fat seem to be their favourite food.


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Working for Wildflowers

Thursday, January 10th 2019

Team Thursday's first task was to move a huge log back into place after it had been 'nudged' by a delivery wagon! Thanks to Ian and his pickup this didn't take long!


The conservation volunteers then headed to the fallen Silver Birch along Risedale Beck which needed to be cleared from the Hazel bank before the Primroses flower. An old Willow had been badly broken by the falling tree and also needed to be removed.

Start of the day

As can be seen from the picture below, the stump wascompletely rotten on the inside.


As there was so much wood, some of the brash was burnt on a fire.

Twisted fire starter!

The team worked all day long in the unusually mild weather conditions. It isn't very often that you can work in T-shirts in January in North Yorkshire.


At lunchtime, it was decided to have a picnic by the fire. Freshly cut logs made fantastic seats!


A highlight was Elizabeth T's homemade lemon drizzle cake! It went down a treat! As did the hot potatoes cooked in the ash of yesterday's fire.


After lunch, Peter coppiced a Hazel which had been caught in the path of the falling Birch tree. The Hazel stems were not put on the fire but instead they were woven into a nearby 'dead hedge' to give it a new lease of life. Living Hazel was also 'laid' into the structure to try and make it a more attractive feature in the future. This type of hedge or 'fedge' (a cross between a hedge and a fence) is a great habitat in itself.

Dead hedge

By the end of the day the bank was cleared apart from some large pieces of timber that will be removed at a later stage.


Finally, here is the 'after' photo of the newly exposed bank. It will be interesting to revisit this patch of land in the springtime to see which flowers are flourishing. Many thanks to all of the Foxglove volunteers who worked outside today and also to those who worked both inside (stock taking) and outside (marking out the wetland dams and pipes) yesterday, your support is much appreciated.


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Surveys and Sunsets

Wednesday, January 9th 2019

It's been a day for hard hats and high vis jackets.The woodland work is continuing, with an impressive number of trees felled so far!

We had an assessment of the Wetland for work to be carried out this winter, clearing away some of the vegetation and re-building the banks and dams. 


To continue the theme of yellow jackets, we also had an assessment of the bridges over Risedale Beck, with some work to be carried out in the coming weeks while the Woodland Walk is closed. 



And the day finished off with a rather lovely sunset over the woodland. 


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Fires and new gadgets!

Monday, January 7th 2019

It was a blustery day on the reserve, and this morning was spent clearing up some brash that was cut down on the Winter Worky Day last Saturday. 

The fire was still red hot from a couple of days ago, and with plenty of wind, it didn't take much getting going. 

In other exciting news, we now have a card reader in the Field Centre so card payments will be accepted. Better late than never! 

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Coppicing, Curry and Cakes!

Monday, January 7th 2019

Sunny weather made Saturday's task a lot easier than it was on the last winter worky day when volunteers got rather wet!

Work continued in the coppice block alongside the access road. 

Low winter light along with smoke from the fire made conditions for some interesting photographs.

Lesley was inspired to do some yoga around the fire!

While Steve tried his hand at water divining!

Captions on a postcard please for this photograph…

The usual delicious curry and cakes helped to fuel volunteers for the afternoon. Our sincere thanks to everyone who gave their precious weekend time to improve one of the reserve's most important habitats.

If you would like to take part in the next worky day, please book a place, details on our events page.

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Best Laid Plans

Thursday, January 3rd 2019

Volunteers began the morning with the task of cleaning out the small seed store which happens to be the original building from 1992 when the reserve was first set up.

It soon became apparent that the job was more complicated than first anticipated as the shed itself was rather tired and in need of extra support!

Thanks to some handy chainsaw work by local farmer Ian, the newly supported structure  was put back together. A job well done, thank you to the Thursday team!

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New Year’s Day Walk and Talk

Tuesday, January 1st 2019

Several families enjoyed a guided walk around the whole reserve in the sunshine to celebrate the first day of 2019. The wild ducks on the lake were fed and counted. Many Moorhens and around twenty Mallards enjoyed Ken's special mix of duck feed and corn! Later the children gave the Exmoor ponies a New Year treat of carrots and apples. All four ponies appeared to be in fine fettle!

The group finished off their visit with a well deserved hot chocolate in the Field Centre. Same time next year everyone?!

Happy New Year to all from the Foxglove Team!

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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

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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