Blog Archive (11) Posts Made in June 2019
A School Visit
Monday, June 17th 2019
Year 5 from Hipswell Primary School visited Foxglove today. Their activities included pond dipping, a minibeast hunt and habitat walk. Damselfly larvae, tadpoles, 3 Spined Sticklebacks and Pond Snails were dipped from the ponds. The minibeast hunt revealed centipedes, woodlice, slugs and earthworms on the now damp ground and under the logs. A very large beetle was found, but its name as yet is not confirmed. It is a carnivore as you can see from its large jaws.
Sweep netting on the moor saw many flies of varying sizes and colours caught. Very tiny beetles that looked like weevils were plentiful as were green flower bugs. A Common Malachite beetle (hope the ID is correct!) made a splash of colour.
Bees were also caught but released immediately! Froghoppers and grasshoppers hopped about. A crab spider took the opportunity to have an easy meal of an insect in the net.
So that the children could see other habitats we walked down to Risedale Beck via the ponies. Eagle eyes soon spotted other bugs and beasties. This Cardinal beetle was not camouflaged, but bright red, to act as a warning to predators to keep away.
Cucumber Spiders are green and often blend in well with the background they are on.
The children showed their knowledge of carnivores and herbivores, camouflage and warning colours. A hover fly was studied as it looked like a wasp and the children decided that this was to keep it safe as it would warn predators that it was dangerous, even though it was not.
Sunday, June 16th 2019
Flaming June failed to live up to its name first thing this morning and the bird ringers were pleased to have a hot cup of tea waiting for them as they arrived back from raising the nets. It was good to see that many Great Tits, 36, ringed in the nest box have fledged successfully, despite the wet and cold weather. Bullfinches were also in abundance. Goldfinch are feeding from the Nyger feeders in the back garden and 12 adults were newly ringed. No juveniles yet.
A rare catch for the garden net, was a juvenile Grey Wagtail.
The weather forecast kept changing with rain due to arrive at 12, but it did not. Throughout the day it was dull, then sunny, warm and then cold, but we completed CES 5 before the rain came down. Thank you to everyone who helped.
John was out and about first thing and spotted the Little Grebes having a fight! The male Tufted Duck decided enough was enough and waded in to sort everyone out! By mid morning it looked like a truce had been declared as the Tufted Duck and the Little Grebe sat quietly just a little way from each other.
Spigot Mere has recently been visited by a Shelduck, today it was Little Ringed Plover, photographed by John, another new species for the reserve.
We are not the only species who use an umbrella, this soldier beetle was hiding under a leaf to escape the overnight downpour.
Every Little Helps!
Friday, June 14th 2019
Thank you to all of the supporters in the local community who kindly voted for Foxglove in the Bags for Help scheme. As a result, senior staff from Tesco presented Reserve Managers, Management Group members and volunteers with a cheque for £4000.
Our sincere thanks to Tesco Catterick Garrison for this generous grant. This money will go directly towards new interpretation panels and pamphlets to engage the community with their Local Nature Reserve. In spite of the perpetual rain, visitors have recorded Kingfisher and Tufted Duck on the lake and were lucky enough to hear a Cuckoo calling loudly.
Ponies, Potholes and Perfection!
Tuesday, June 11th 2019
Lark and Taurus, the two Exmoor ponies, have done a great job up at Plover's pool but their 'strimming' services were required eleswhere on the reserve. They were moved to one of the heathland paddocks today in order to manage some of the long grasses that are competing with the heather. Catching them proved to be a lot easier than anticipated, thanks to Emma's carrot sticks! Lark was happier to wear a headcollar than Taurus (on the left) who took a little more persuasion to folllow.
They behaved exceptionally well on the lead ropes as they wound their way along the woodland footpath between the different habitats.
On arrival at their new field, they had a good run about and tested out their new diet!
They soon settled down and began their important conservation role; to remove unwanted vegetation!
Volunteers helped with many tasks today including clearing the moss from the field centre gutters, planting Globeflowers, strimming footpaths, checking nest boxes and fixing the potholes in the main track.
Another main challenge was the installation of over twenty new signs to remind visitors that dogs must be kept on leads. This was done with great precision and perfection!
Keeping dogs on leads is especially important at this time of year because there are many species of ground nesting birds on the nature reserve.
Thank you to everyone who helped to make this another productive day, you can see the difference that has been made to both the wildlife habitats and the visitor experience.
Bugs, Bugs and More Bugs!
Monday, June 10th 2019
Hipswell Primary School visited today. They had a busy day hunting for minibeasts, pond dipping and then heading off to learn more about the habitats and the plants and animals that live in them.
Out on the moor, sweep netting caught many, many bugs of various sizes, shapes and colours. Large and small spiders were caught, including this crab spider, so called because it moves just like a crab!
A lacewing was also caught and was released into the grass where a more natural photo could be taken. Once viewed its brilliant eye is remarkable. Lacewings look so delicate but this hides the fact that the adult and larvae are carnivores with large jaws.
Talking of jaws, when pond dipping a Great Diving Beetle adult was caught along with several larvae. The adult is quite capable of flying from pond to pond.
This photo shows those very large jaws. Obviously they are carnivores and will eat many of the tadpoles in the ponds, along with anything else that moves. The Pond Snail was a little too large for it to tackle.
As the children walked back to the gate they saw the tadpoles all massed together.
All About The Birds
Sunday, June 9th 2019
During the fourth visit of CES bird ringing, there was an unusual find in one of the nets; a juvenile Dipper. These beautiful birds are unique among passerines for their ability to dive and swim underwater. This one must have come from a nest somewhere on the reserve.
The first Curlew chicks of the year have been ringed out on the training area. These are now on the red list. Red is the highest conservation priority, with species needing urgent action. This means that they are classed as an endangered species. Monitoring these young birds will help the BTO to target conservation measures in the future.
Many Kestrel chicks have also been ringed. This species is currently on the amber list as is the Dipper shown at the top of this page.
It was a productive day with over 160 birds ringed in total. The day began at 04:00 hrs as the team have to be up and ready before the dawn chorus! Our sincere thanks to all of the bird ringers and volunteers who made it possible. Scribing, making tea and coffee and helping to tidy up all makes a big difference to the running of the day. The collection of this data about the breeding bird population is extremely valuable for conservation. Finally, a special thank you to Ken and Linda for the amazing pie!
Pied Flycatchers, Plovers and Peregrines
Friday, June 7th 2019
With the bird breeding season well under way, members of the Swaledale Ringing Team are never bored! Some of the latest chicks to hatch out in the small nest boxes are the most interesting. Pied Flycatchers are summer visitors that winter in West Africa. They choose to nest in mature Oak woodland and will often make their home in a nestbox. This adult male was observed catching moths and returning to a box to feed them to its young.
The chicks, which appeared on an earlier blog as blue eggs, were just the right size to be ringed. They all appeared to be fit and healthy.
Out on the moor, many waders have had their chicks too. Recently, the first Golden Plover chicks of the year were ringed. These are extremely difficult to spot as they are so well camouflaged that they look just like a piece of Sphagnum Moss. It is hoped that they will survive the torrential rainfall and unusually cool night time temperatures for the time of year.
The team are privileged to monitor Peregrine Falcon nests too. In this one, only one chick was found and it was well developed, perhaps being an 'only child' has its benefits in the raptor world! The dark primary feathers were well formed and it won't be long before this bird can fly.
In another nest, two healthy chicks were discovered, These were much younger and were just the perfect age to be ringed. Here is one of them having been returned to the nest safely. You can just make out the metal BTO (British Trust for Ornithology) ring on its right leg. They are also fitted with orange plastic rings that have black letters on them on the left leg. This enables the individuals to be identified by a bird watcher through a telescope.
National Volunteers’ Week!
Tuesday, June 4th 2019
Strimming, mowing, repairing, painting, meeting & greeting, baking, surveying, identifying, photographing, bird ringing, recording and updating social media! These are just some of the activities that volunteers get up to at Foxglove, although it is also true that no two days are ever the same! This week has been no exception and as always the Foxglove team are very thankful for all of the help and support that volunteers offer in many different ways. Fixing a picnic bench was one of the jobs on the list today; these kind of tasks save the reserve a lot of money.
With a network of several miles of footpath, repairs are necessary to maintain the trails in tip top condition. The group are a dab hand at this now, come rain or shine! The edging had completely rotted on this section so new boards were installed.
Once again, stone was transported to the site, this is a strenous task (no need for gym membership)! Extra care was needed to avoid trampling on the orchids that are starting to appear almost everywhere.
Here is the end result!
Foxglove's longest standing volunteer was hard at work again tidying the gardens around the field centre and filling bird feeders. So far this year there have been well over 700 volunteer days. If each was paid £50 for a day's work then this would equate to a staggering £35, 000!
Throughout this week (National Volunteer Week) we will be celebrating with regular volunteers in various ways to thank them for all of their efforts. Volunteers don't have the time, they make the time! If you would like to get involved or have a particular interest or skill then please get in touch as with one hundred acres to manage there are always 'things to do'!
Pupils from the Dales School helped out by releasing the tiny froglets from the classroom aquarium back into the wild. It seems that they can jump quite a distance even at this young age! Once fully developed the young frogs sit on the miniature raft in the tank to have a rest from swimming, this makes them easy to catch.
Willow seeds have been blowing all over the reserve and where they have piled up on the paths they resemble a light dusting of snow!
Finally, the display of orchids should be spectacular this summer; this cluster is growing right next to the main access track!
All About The Bees
Monday, June 3rd 2019
Visitors to the reserve over the last couple of weeks may have heard a strange sound coming from the observation beehive inside the field centre. This was the singing or rather 'piping' of a newly hatched Queen bee who was trying to discover whether or not she was the only one of her kind! However, it transpired that there was a second Queen bee which led to another swarm on Friday afternoon. Here you can see the cluster of bees developing on the outside of the building close to the entrance to the hive.
The beekeepers were quick to respond as usual and came fully equipped with beekeeping suits and a skep to put the honey bees into.
They were encouraged gently with a soft brush.
Once contained in the special basket, they could be taken away to another hive. Apologies for the somewhat blurry photographs which were taken from a safe distance!
In some ways this was good timing as the Richmond and District Beekeepers' Association (RDBKA) held a two day course at Foxglove over the weekend!
Does anybody know the collective noun for beekeepers?
Other Recordings from the Flower Walk
Sunday, June 2nd 2019
Whilst out recording the flowers we did rather get waylaid looking at other things along the way. Orange Tip Butterfly eggs on Cuckoo Flower are relatively easy to find, now that we know what we are looking for. With some searching we can now find Brimstone Butterfly eggs on Alder or Alder Buckthorn. Hopefully we will soon find the caterpillars of both species.
Some, possibly Peacock or Small Tortoiseshell caterpillars, have hatched and are feeding on the Nettles. In the rain they hide underneath the leaves.
Adder's Tongue Fern grows on the wetland but some years ago we found some growing in another area of the reserve. Unfortunately it was next to the fence with the camp and for security reasons the area was sprayed with weed killer and the fern disappeared. Information says that Adder's Tongue is an annual. Other sources says that it spreads by underground roots. However it grows, it has re-appeared and is growing strongly. It is also next to a path so another area that the volunteers who strim the path edges will have to avoid - thank you!
There were not many butterflies flying but we did see a Green Veined White
and a female Orange Tip.
A green beetle was photographed on a dandelion like flower. So far it has not been identified.
Saturday, June 1st 2019
Over 70 flowers were recorded during the monthly flower walk. Thank you to the volunteers who walked around the reserve recording the flowers. Each flower has to pass the 'flower test'! This means that it must be open and in flower.
Wild Garlic along Risedale Beck was showing its white flowers.
May blossom is covering the Hawthorn trees, so hopefully there will be a good crop of berries for the winter migrants.
The stamens begin pink but as they release their pollen change to white and dark grey.
At the far end of the reserve Wood Cranesbill is spreading through the lighly shaded areas of woodland.
The Dog Daisies (Ox-eye Daisy) are just opening their buds.
Ragged Robin always lives up to its name and appears 'ragged'!