Blog Archive (11) Posts Made in August 2019
Meandering Around the Reserve
Sunday, August 18th 2019
Lark and Taurus were not bothered by the wind, although their tails and manes were blowing a little.
I was followed by Taurus hoping that I might just have a treat hidden somewhere, but when nothing appeared he began feeding on the grass.
Bees and hoverflies were out in force flying from flower to flower to feed. Devil's Bit Scabious is a favoured flower.
Wild Angelica and Wild Carrot (below) have large, mainly flat, umbels of flowers and these are often covered by many insects of all shapes and sizes.
Warm damp weather is ideal for the growth of fungi and some are begining to appear.
This polypore fungus grows around anything in its way.
Saturday, August 17th 2019
Setting off for a walk around I did not think that there would be much on the wing due to the very strong wind. I was wrong. However trying to photograph those on the wing proved interesting. Photographs include vegetation and no insect, totally out of focus vegetation and of course hands and fingers trying to hold the flower still! But some insects did co-operate and I was able to obtain some lovely photos.
I have seen Brimstone butterflies fly this way and that way but never close enough even to get a splodge, but I was lucky today.
Speckled Wood butterflies have not been common over the last few weeks but almost every sunny glade had at least one sunbathing.
I wondered what sort of leaf was waving in the wind, until I realised that it was a Common Blue butterfly hanging on tightly to a stem. It did not move as I crept closer to get a macro shot.
Hand rails of bridges, especially along Risedale Beck, can often reveal some interesting creatures. I spotted a tiny Pale Tussock Moth caterpillar crawling along. These moth caterpillars used to be a pest on hop crops in south east England. The pickers called them Hop Dogs and some claimed that they could cause a severe allergic skin reaction. We do not have hops on our species list but we do have a wide variety of deciduous trees and plenty of Bramble on which the caterpillars feed. They can take up to two months to reach a size of 40mm and they are then ready to pupate.
Saw-wort blooms in a hidden away part of the reserve and provides nectar for many butterflies and bees. Where once there was only one clump of this plant, now there are several.
Before More Rain
Thursday, August 15th 2019
Everything is continuing to grow! Volunteers spent some time on the heath removing invasive species. These include Bramble, Willow, Gorse and Silver Birch.
There were several small Oak seedlings which were dug up and replanted. I always stop and wonder how they came to be there, a Grey Squirrel hiding acorns for the winter and forgetting where they were, or was it a Jay, doing the same thing.
After much hard work in the sunshine, five trailer loads of brash were removed and the heath was looking so good.
Work on the back garden fence and gates also continued.
The overhanging branches in the back garden were trimmed and the pond was also given some tlc.
And finally before the rain arrives the lawns were mown.
Thank you to our volunteers for all their hard work.
A Wet Day
Wednesday, August 14th 2019
There is one thing to be said for our weather at the minute and that is, that it is changeable. I am not sure if the weather hasn't consulted the forecast or it is the other way around. A forecast of a dull day with some sun later in the afternoon turned out to be a thoroughly damp, soggy, wet day. The moth traps caught very few moths overnight so it did not take us long to ID them. As we had time we set to on indoor jobs. Some volunteers inputted species data whilst others sorted photographs for displays. Volunteers also supported the nest box building activity. Thank you to everyone who helped today. Foxglove volunteers have such a valuable and variable range of skills that help to keep the reserve looking so good.
Out in the rain for a quick walk it was obvious that everything had water droplets! Wild Carrot is a biennial and consequently does not always grow in the same place each year. There are several flower heads near the heath. Some of them have the red centre petals.
Seed heads are already beginning to develop. When I looked at this one it looked 'odd', as the bowl shape is full of water.
Instead of being covered in insects this Devil's Bit Scabious was covered in water droplets.
When you get the 'right sort' of weather a hidden world can appear. A spider's web was spun on a stem of Hawthorn.
Cutting, Strimming, Painting, Sawing and Pulling!
Tuesday, August 13th 2019
Hayley and Emma were busy cutting back yet more branches overhanging the access road and main paths. This is almost like painting the Forth Railway Bridge!
The fence surrounding the back garden was given some protective stain. At the same time a path was cut through the long grass avoiding the orchids that are setting seed.
Ragwort is poisonous to stock and some had grown around Plover's Pool so was pulled up and removed. Where there is no stock we leave this flower as it is excellent for bees, butterflies and day-flying moths, not forgetting the Cinnabar Moth caterpillars.
The volunteers then headed to the woodland, where a bridge needed some attention.
There was plenty of advice given to Richard as he repaired the boardwalk.
Our volunteers worked hard and by the end of the day some tasks could be crossed off the 'Job List'! Thank you very much, all your effort is really appreciated.
The winner of our 'Guess the Number of Sweets' competition was Mrs Kerry Bell with a guess of 380. Thank you to everyone who supported us.
Cascading Ponds and Risedale Beck
Sunday, August 11th 2019
Volunteers have been working on the Cascading Ponds and their work is achieving its purpose, to help prevent erosion. The reserve receives most of its water from the moors and rainfall can cause the levels to rise quickly. This was shown by the bubbling water cascading over the falls of the ponds. They also provide habitats for a variety of species.
Common Frogs and Toads were found here earlier in the year and now 'dragons and damsels' (dragonflies and damselflies) can be seen flitting across the water.
Roe Deer sometimes walk across the area and the Kingfisher was seen here recently before heading to the Lake.
Risedale Beck also rises quickly after rain and often the water is coloured brown. This dam which creates deeper water so that the pipe can take water into the pond, next to the beck. If the flood is very high then the dam can have some of the stones washed away.
Some members of the Swaledale Ringing Group have headed to Dividalen for a week. There is no communications so we will have to wait until their return to hear which birds they have ringed. They were there last year and there is information about their visit on the blog https://www.foxglovecovert.org.uk/blog/northern-norway.
Friday, August 9th 2019
It was the 10th CES (Constant Effort Scheme) of 2019 and a start time of 0500. The sun rose with the promise of a dry, warm, sunny day.
Net rounds were carried out and many birds were returned to the ringing room. In total 251 birds were processed. The majority of the birds brought in were youngsters. Bullfinches, Chaffinches and Robins were all starting to moult and grow in their coloured feathers. Coal Tits visit Foxglove for the winter and some are already beginning to return. They will always find plenty of food available for them.
Some adults that were processed gave us some smiles. A Long-tailed Tit was first ringed in December 2016, so was at least two and half years old. A Great Tit was ringed as a juvenile in June 2014, and a Chaffinch was four years old.
There were some surprises too. After seeing some Marsh Tits earlier in the year one arrived to be ringed. They are on the Red List of UK Species, meaning that they are of the highest conservation priority, needing urgent action.
A Whitethroat, a rare vistor to Foxglove, was also ringed.
As the bird ringers returned from net rounds they commented on the number of butterflies, mainly Peacocks and Painted Ladies. They were as usual feeding on the Hardheads.
But there is always one. A Small Skipper decided that the seed head of a grass was much better!
Thank you to everyone who worked at Foxglove during the day, those in the ringing room and those carrying out a variety of habitat management tasks. A special thank you to Team Thursday who weeded out the Heather paddocks in the morning and then gave the reed bed a much needed 'short back and sides' to open up the footpath through the scrapes!
Many thanks too to Abbie and Kate for stepping in last minute to help with the wildlife craft activity on Wednesday. More of these are planned in the next few weeks, no need to book, just pop in. See the events page for details.
All your hard work is very much appreciated and makes a huge difference to the reserve. Finally, the latest Undergrowth newsletter is available. Friends of Foxglove will receive theirs by post but you can view it (in two parts) on the website too.
Flowers and Moths
Wednesday, August 7th 2019
Volunteers were busy today dealing with species. The flower walk records all the flowers in bloom. Hardheads or Black Knapweed is flowering across the reserve and it almost seems that every clump of these flowers has several Painted Ladies feeding from them.
Another late summer flower is the Devil's Bit Scabious.
When the ringing team were at Cape Wrath they saw Grass of Parnassus in flower. At Foxglove it does not flower until mid August. One flower was open but there are several in tight bud just waiting.
The moth team would like to thank the Reserve Managers for putting the moth traps out on a Tuesday night. It is much appreciated. Scalloped Oak fly during July and August.
Canary-shouldered Thorn begins its flight season in July but this is our first of the season. We can catch these moths right through to October.
Many children went home with bird feeders for their gardens from the event held this morning. Thanks to Kate and Abigail who helped.
Tuesday, August 6th 2019
Tuesday volunteers have been busy carrying out a variety of tasks. Peter, Ian and Bob continued work on the Cascading Ponds. It was very hard work in the summer sun.
The blog has mentioned that the volunteers have been pulling thistles and cutting back overhanging branches. Warmth and rain are encouraging growth all over the reserve. Much of the brash has been taken to the bullet catcher where Brian used his fire lighting skill to produce a controlled fire.
Bob set too, to repair a small piece of the boardwalk.
Emma and Sophie gave the bus shelter some tlc,
while Richard attacked Brambles and overhanging branches around the Stone Pile car park.
Decorating the door hangers in the Activity Room has been very popular with the children, so Ian needed to cut more.
Catherine carried out the butterfly survey today and numbers were a little lower than she expected, but it was windy and the butterflies prefer calmer conditions. After huge counts of Ringlet butterflies their numbers were reduced as they have come to the end of their flight season and only one was seen today. Peacocks are still flying and 26 were recorded. Painted Ladies topped the list with 32. In total ten species were recorded and 90 butterflies in total.
Many thanks to all the volunteers who worked really hard to carry out and complete so many different tasks around the reserve.
Plenty to See
Sunday, August 4th 2019
After their excursion to Spigot Mere yesterday, Lark and Taurus were checked to make sure they were where they should be, Plover's Pool. A sigh of relief when they were both feeding quietly.
During the hot summer of last year the flowers bloomed but did not stay in flower for long. Although we are having some lovely warm sunny days, it is not the intense heat of last year and also there is rain at times. Some of the last species to join the observation board are Common Centaury
and Harebell. Usually there are just a few of these delicate flowers on the moor but this hugh patch is unmissable. Many flowers provide nectar and pollen for invertebrates or provide places for carnivores to await prey. Right in the centre of the photo is a ladybird, no doubt hoping for some juicy greenfly.
Hemp Agrimony mainly grows around the Scrapes ponds and is a valuable nectar source for butterflies and other insects. A Comma was enjoying a feed.
A damselfly alighted on a branch, an advantage of having tiny feet, you can fit them between the prickles!
Dragons and Damsels
Saturday, August 3rd 2019
The weather was just right for our Dragonfly and Damselfly walk this afternoon. Plover's Pool is an excellent place to just stop and stand and stare and be amazed at their antics, as they hawk across the water.
Keith and June, supported by Tony, shared their knowledge as well as catching some of these fantastic insects, although it must be said that probably the dragons, particularly, out smarted those with nets. Some were caught and expertly handled so that everyone could see the detail on the dragons.
This one was a Black-tailed Skimmer. Unfortunately they do not always sit in the best places for photographs to be taken, so apologies for the thistle. I will let it off as it is yet another new species for the reserve.
In the morning Keith and June had also recorded Golden-ringed Dragonfly and Keith was able to take this beautiful photo. Thank you.
We also saw Broad-bodied Chasers along with Emerald, Common and Azure Damselflies. Whilst watching all of these beautiful insects I was wondering why Lark and Taurus were not being curious. I peered around the trees but no ponies. I was beginning to wonder if they had been moved.
As Anne, Barry and I headed to Spigot Mere to check on the Pillwort I realised that Lark and Taurus were enjoying standing on the island in the middle of Spigot Mere.
A phone call to Gerry confirmed that they should not be there. Out came our own 'horse whisperer', Sandra. Armed with apples and carrots she lead them back to Plover's Pool where they should be. Thank you very much! A reminder please to close all the gates.
Whilst looking for dragonflies and damselflies we also noted the butterflies and the list included Brimstone, Dark Green Fritillary, Small Copper, Common Blue and the butterfly making all the headlines, Painted Lady.
Everyone enjoyed the walk around the reserve hunting for the dragons and damsels and seeing so many other species. Thank you to Keith and June for leading this walk for us.
As an extra piece of information our Pillwort is growing really well in Plover's Pool and Spigot Mere. Anne and Barry took GPS readings and recorded the approximate size of each area. We will watch these carefully over the next few weeks and hope that they continue to thrive. Thanks again to Anne and Dave for their valuable work supporting us with this rare fern.