Blog Archive (26) Posts Made in October 2019
Lots of Help
Thursday, October 31st 2019
Another good day, dry and no rain. The volunteers worked at a variety of tasks. A broken piece of boardwalk needed repair so Richard set to. He had a lot of assisstance! Many hands make light work springs to mind!
The task was completed with the help from Emma.
Another job that required much input was the replacing of a marker post in the woodland.
There is a bank in the woodland covered in Bluebells in the spring.
It soon becomes overgrown with Brambles and grasses and so must be cut and raked.
Whilst in the woodland a fallen tree was cut and tided into habitat piles.
Another tree required more than just a bow saw!
Once the woodland work was completed, it was back to the moor to continue to remove Gorse.
There were many ticks against tasks completed by the end of the day. Thank you so much for all your hard work.
Wednesday, October 30th 2019
The moth traps were out last night on the assumption that the moths would fly before the temperature dropped too low. Not so, only four moths in total. It was the last Wednesday of the month so it was a flower walk. Surprisingly over 40 flowers in flower were recorded, including Daisy, Devil's Bit Scabious, Meadow Sweet, Red Campion and Ivy.
Along the route the recorders were distracted by fungi. It is an excellent year for fungi. Wrinkled Club used to grow in a small area in the conifer woodland, but has now spread.
Another white fungus, not seen for two years was White Saddle.
Out on Plover's Pool further investigation amongst the wax caps.
Meanwhile Colin was keeping the hedge in the back garden neatly trimmed, before heading to the seed store to sieve some of the hopper seed. This removes larger pieces of chaff which block the netting in the hoppers so preventing the birds reaching the seeds.
There were plenty of birds to be seen in the back garden. A Nuthatch was busy collecting seed and taking it away to store. Bullfinches were feeding from the hopper, whilst the Nyger seed feeders were covered in Goldfinches. Out on the moor a Green Woodpecker flew over making its characteristic yaffle call. Blackbirds and thrushes were feeding on the Hawthorn berries.
Lesley and Carla ran our Wildlife Drop in Activity which was enjoyed by many children.
Thank you to all our volunteers for all the varied work carried out today.
Tuesday, October 29th 2019
There is always plenty of work to do at Foxglove and the staff and Tuesday volunteers were out strimming, raking and burning. The bright and at times warm sunshine cast long shadows across the ground.
Once the 'strimmers' had finished strimming the cut vegetation was raked into piles before being loaded into wheelbarrows and taken to the fire. This area is one of the places where the Early Purple Orchids flower in late April to early May. The stronger growing vegetation, Brambles and grasses, would out compete the orchids, so the area must be cut. If the cuttings were left, the soil would be enriched and probably some of the Bramble cuttings would root and grow!
The camera man ensured he was also in the photo!
Carla had a break from her bird ringing data and helped Alex clear an area that had been cut.
Brian was on fire duty and kept an eye on a small, neat fire.
A photograph of some of the volunteers. Again the long shadow of the photographer was included.
Many thanks to all the volunteers involved today. We really appreciate all your hard work, so will the orchids.
Work Experience in the Sunshine
Monday, October 28th 2019
Ella Wheeler is currently studying Level 3 Animal Management at Askham Bryan College and is carrying out her week's work experience at Foxglove. She visited Lark and Taurus, who are looking well in their new field. (You can see that they are growing their 'fluffy' winter coats!) During her time at Foxglove she will be helping with the habitat management tasks. Welcome to the team.
Although cold, the sun has brought out some insect life. A Red Admiral, rather battered looking, was sunbathing on the Bramble leaves.
Common Darters were also on the wing. At this time of year when invertebrate species are recorded on the observation board we add the date. This information is then entered into our species data base. Butterfly dates are forwarded to the VC65 county recorder.
After the Rain
Sunday, October 27th 2019
Walking across the moor in the sunshine the autumn colours are truly on display.
The Larch trees are turning gold and dropping their needles.
Sycamores were also dropping their leaves, which made a delightful crunching sound, as they were walked through.
More colours were seen at the lake.
Sun was making the Scrapes ponds sparkle.
All these photos were in total contrast to yesterday, when Bob was singing in the rain, examining the work he and other volunteers had carried out on the cascading ponds.
Exploring For Fungi
Friday, October 25th 2019
One advantage of the recent rain is that fungi have fruited all over the reserve. On Wednesday, a group lead by Christine Meek, explored Foxglove to see how many different species they could find. They found some beautiful specimens including this Conifer Tuft.
The well known red and white toadstool, Fly Agaric, was observed in several places. This photo shows the underside. When identifying fungi the structure of the gills is key.
Another common species is Candlesnuff fungi, also known as 'Stag's Horn'. It grows on dead or rotting wood.
Not all fungi lives on rotten wood; some species of bracket fungi are parasytic and live on live trees like this one.
Our thanks to Christine for leading the walk which was on a perfect crisp autumn day!
Since Monday, a further eight Redwing have been ringed and this Redpoll also made an appearance in the ringing room!
More Help From Heroes
Thursday, October 24th 2019
Another team of enthusiastic volunteers from Help for Heroes helped out on the reserve today. As this was a regular 'worky' day there were over eighteen volunteers working at Foxglove all together.
Weighing out bird seed, painting marker posts for net rides, raking and removing hay and cutting and burning Gorse were the jobs on today's list!
In some places on the moor the Gorse has almost taken over after a good growing year! This task will be ongoing during the winter months but the group made a good 'dent' in one of the worst areas.
It was a little chilly up on the moor but keeping active, having a small bonfire and sporting splendid bobble hats kept everyone warm!
Our thanks to the team who have yet again made a positive contribution to the habitats at Foxglove.
The Bluebell bank is looking very smart after it's 'haircut' thanks to lots of hard work strimming and raking. There is no need for any volunteers to go to the gym this week!
Letting In Light
Tuesday, October 22nd 2019
The main task for today was to clear back overhanging branches from a pond along Risedale Beck. A team of staff and volunteers tackled the challenge and with a chainsaw going for the first time this year progress was quick! A small fire was made to burn the brash while bigger logs were added to nearby habitat piles.
Working so close to the pond edge that was surrounded by trees was tricky and the only way to get from one side to the other was to wade!
By lunchtime, the job was done and so another one from the ever increasing list was chosen; cutting the Bluebell Bank. This will reduce the amount of competition from other plants such as Bracken and encourage more Bluebells to grow next spring. The Bracken had already been crushed at the end of the summer to knock it back.
Whilst waiting for the strimmers to get a head start, the 'rakers' made the most of a brief rest on the moorland stones.
It wasn't long until the rakes were required to make a start in tidying up the cuttings. Raking also helps to spread the wildflower seeds over the area.
Another productive day! Thank you to all involved.
Finally, there are lots of events planned for the autumn months. The Halloween trail is set out so come along and see if you can find and solve all of the clues hidden on the red route (easy access trail). Clues will be left out until the end of half term. Quiz sheets are available from the field centre for £1 and the answers can be found at the end.
Autumn Bird Ringing
Monday, October 21st 2019
With autumn migration well underway, it is an exciting time of year for bird lovers. The ringers from Foxglove have been busy over the last few days and have caught some really interesting birds such as this Cetti's Warbler. This was caught using mist nets on a different site in a well established wetland scrub area: it is the fifth to be ringed by the group in the last month. This is a species that appears to be moving north due to climate change.
At the same place, a well known favourite, a Kingfisher, made an appearance. It was a juvenile female, the males are even brighter!
Arguably, a more colourful bird still was a Green Woodpecker, also a young female. With its red, yellow and green plumage it was a real delight to see at close quarters.
Redwing have started to move through the area in huge flocks. A few were ringed at the reedbed and since then hundreds have been observed flying over the reserve. A further thirty were ringed there today! These stunning thrushes are arriving from Scandinavia and a good mix of both adults and juveniles were ringed.
The first Fieldfare of the autumn was also ringed. It was an adult female, a very attractive looking bird!
Some birds that are resident all year round were also processed including this young female Bullfinch.
Many smaller birds were ringed too; Long Tailed Tits, Blue Tits, Treecreepers and this gorgeous Goldcrest. The latter is the smallest bird species to be found in the UK and this one weighed only 6.2g (less than a twenty pence coin)!
Sunday, October 20th 2019
Fungi are fascinating. Some years they appear, some years they do not. Weather conditions play an important part in their life cycle. We usually only see the fruiting bodies, whilst the hard work of feeding the fungus goes unnoticed in the organic material that they grow in or on. They come in all shapes, sizes and colours.
Fly Agaric is bright red and this year has put on a spectacular display.
The typical ones have white spots but just to confuse us some have none, as they have been washed off by the rain and so appear just red all over.
Verdigris Agaric, as the name suggests is green,
but pales to a yellow colour as it ages.
Waxcaps have also shown themselves. They like short cropped grass and Lark and Taurus have produced just the right sort of habitat for them. These ones are more mushroom shaped,
whilst this is conical shaped.
This group caught my eye as they were growing out of an old tree stump.
More Green Elfcup has been found.
Some catch your eye because they are a little different. This one has an almost frilly edge.
The logs along the access road and in the car park are covered in fungi.
If you would like to find out more about fungi there is a guided walk around Foxglove on Wednesday 23rd October from 1 till 3. More details and how to book on the walk can be found on the events page.
Saturday, October 19th 2019
Last week we were able to put the moth traps out on two nights and both gave successful catches, although some different moths each night. One moth was one of those that we all said 'We know that one!' then there was silence as we all tried to think of its name. Finally we remembered, with the help of the ID book, it was a Sprawler. Although common in the south of the country it is more local in North Yorkshire.
Moths do tend to 'stick' to their correct flight season and this is a great help when identifying them. When we catch one that does not then it is photographed and sent to the VC65 moth recorder, just in case we have the ID incorrect. A Green Carpet moth was caught on both nights and one was also seen on the Field Centre building. We could all ID this moth no problem, but out of curiosity we checked its flight season, which was May to mid July and then a second generation from August to early September. Concerned that the ID was incorrect the moth was photographed in the container. Of course trying to take one when it was released from the container was not possible as off it flew! The reply from the moth recorder was that this moth has been flying later in recent years, possibly due to changes in climate.
We take great care with the moths when we release them for photographing, trying to find a suitable place for them. It had rained heavily and the leaves were covered with water and some moths did not like getting their feet wet so flew off immediately. A fairly dry small twig was found to put a dark form of a Green-brindled Crescent onto and immediately it unfurled its proboscis and began drinking.
The Field Centre building often has a variety of moths on it and we found our first Mottled Umber of the season on the door on Friday.
The Fascinating World of Spiders
Friday, October 18th 2019
Earlier in the week, a member of the British Arachnalogical Society visited to deliver some staff training on spider identification. Jim Pewtress (aka Spiderman) spent the first part of the morning explaining the different types of spider that can be found in the UK (there are 680 species in total).
One way to differentiate spiders is by their webs which can be sheet, radial, tangle or hammock in design. The anatomy of the arachnid was also covered.
After a virtual tour of the spider world the team headed out into the field to catch some live specimens. Sweep nets were used in an area adjacent to the heathland.
Some with more success than others (better luck next time Gerry)! It was surprising how many spiders were lurking in the damp grasses and over twenty were found altogether in a short space of time.
The contents of the nets were emptied into white plastic trays and pooters were then used to lift the spiders carefully into pots.
Back at the field centre, a microscope was used to study the creatures in more detail.
A small glass dish filled with tiny white beads showed the spiders up well.
Identifying animals that are only 2.4mm in length requires a lot of patience and skill. Over half of the spiders in the UK are in the money spider family like the one shown here.
Jim explained the intricacies of spider identification; the males have larger palps than females (they look a bit like boxing gloves) and the shape of these amongst other factors is key to distinguishing one species from another. The photo below shows a palp of a house spider. The small dark object in the centre has a distinct hook shape.
This was compared to the illustration from a book to identify the spider as Tegenaria duellica one of a possible eleven species of Tegenaria found in Europe.
Our sincere thanks to Jim for providing a valuable insight into the fascinating world of spiders!
Thursday, October 17th 2019
With the sun shining, the levels in the cascading ponds were finally low enough for more maintenance work to be carried out. When the levels were at their highest, water had escaped along the side of one of the dams and the bank needed to be raised. Measurements were taken and then the team found some suitable timber to fill the gap.
It wasn't long until the wood was in place and perfectly level!
Clay was then used to pack the new structure into place.
The 'after' photo below shows the result.
Volunteers have been busy all week with all kinds of jobs. From recording fungi to clearing out the field centre gutters and everything in between! Cutting and raking has been a priority in between rainfall and today the reed bed was cut back from the path and net ride. It was more like working in a remote jungle than in the middle of Europe's largest army garrison; a refreshing break from studying Bullfinch data!
As quite often is the case, a small job turned out to be much bigger than expected when a board had broken in the boardwalk close to the lake.
Several repairs were necessary along this stretch.
Once again, our sincere thanks to everyone who has contributed this week in whatever way!
Risedale Rangers Return
Thursday, October 17th 2019
This term a small group of students from Risedale Sports and Community College have returned weekly to help out with various conservation tasks on the reserve.
So far, they have helped out with path maintenance and this week they assisted by removing the hay from a wildflower meadow that was cut by volunteers earlier in the week.
Using tarpaulins, tonne sacks, wheelbarrows and plenty of elbow grease the team transported the hay away from the meadow.
It wasn't the most fun task in the 'liquid sunshine' however, they got stuck in and did a fantastic job.
Making More Hay
Wednesday, October 16th 2019
An area between the hay meadow and the newly created Spigot Mere was a beautiful patch of wildflowers this summer. It was decided to cut it in an effort to encourage even more flowers to flourish there next year. The plan was to bring a quad bike and flail to speed up the process however, the ground was too wet after the recent rain and this was no longer an option as it would cause too much damage to the soft ground and there would be a risk of getting stuck! An enthusiastic team of volunteers decided to tackle the problem with strimmers!
Here is the before photo:
With four strimmers on the go, the job was achievable.
Using old fashioned hay rakes, the cuttings were dragged into neat lines and piles.
The 'after' photo shows the impressive end result, not bad at all for a days work! This would not have been possible without the hard work of the regular Foxglove volunteers.
After lunch, Carla, an intern from Teesside University, shared some of the findings of her research project with staff and volunteers in a powerpoint presentation. Later on in the day she revealed a hidden talent when she presented Bob with a handmade sign. There have been a lot of jokes lately as he has spent some time sorting out one of the Foxglove cabins which closely resembles an icecream van!
Thank you to everyone for giving their time and using their many skills so generously, it is all appreciated!
Mowing, Mending and Moving!
Sunday, October 13th 2019
On the only dry day last week, some of the large glades (mini wildflower meadows) were cut. This is important to allow new growth next year.
The cuttings were raked into rows. In a few days time the rows will be scattered and raked again before the hay is made into a pile. This will help to scatter the wildflower seeds. All that is needed is for some sunny weather to dry out the grass!
With many major habitat types there are always management jobs to be done. A lot of conservation involves cutting back vegetation and this is where Lark and Taurus, the two Exmoor ponies have been very helpful. However, with so much rain recently they were starting to damage the ground at Plover's Pool and alternative grazing was required. A suitable field was found nearby and all that was needed was some repair work to the fencing. Armed with fencing pliers, strainers, hammers and staples the team went on a fence fixing mission!
In some places the wire was raised to make the fence just that bit higher.
Then the wire was tightened all around to make it safe.
In no time at all the two acre field was safe and secure.
The next job was to clean out the water trough, not Alex's favourite task! Ragwort was also pulled from the area as it is poisonous to ponies.
The following day, the ponies were caught (this took a lot of patience, time, apples and spearmint flavoured herby treats)! They then had to be walked through the reserve on their halters. This sounds easy but the ponies are wild and were unsure of the different surroundings. A particular problem was the wooden bridges that Lark was reluctant to cross as his hooves made a lot of noise on the decking!
A bucket full of treats did the trick though and soon the group were heading to the edge of the reserve.
The ponies were lead out of Foxglove and over some of the neighbouring training land.
All the time keeping the bucket at the front of the convoy!
As soon as they were let off of the leads inside their new home, the pair had a good gallop about and Taurus enjoyed a good roll in the grass.
He seemed to be very content!
The ponies will stay here for a few months to give the land at Foxglove some respite. They will return in the spring to continue with their important conservation role!
A Better Than Good Day
Saturday, October 12th 2019
At last the weather was suitable for ringing to be carried out at Foxglove. It was a lovely sunny day although at times on the cool side. Nets were opened and the bird ringers, as always, carried out regular net rounds returning an unexpected variety of birds to the ringing room.
Some of our summer migrants are still heading south and two Chiffchaffs were ringed before being released to continue their journey. At the same time our winter migrants are arriving to feast on the large berry crop on the reserve. Three beautiful juvenile Redwings were processed, presumably not long after leaving Scandinavia.
Long-tailed Tits were also ringed and some retrapped.
When ringing is taking place, making tea and washing up are an essential part of the day. This is not the hard work that it appears as you are able to look out of the kitchen window and see the variety of birds at the feeders and may be lucky enough to watch a flock of Long-tailed Tits arrive. They flit from feeder to branch, to feeder and back again, not staying long before flying off. Taking a photograph through the window does not result in a brilliant photo but you can see that the Lotti below already sports its ring.
By close of play 125 birds had been processed. More new Bullfinches were ringed and a grand total of 35 Goldfinches also. One of the Blue Tits checked had been ringed in a nest box.
So all in all, it was a better than good day. Many thanks to the volunteer bird ringers.
Friday, October 11th 2019
After the recent heavy downpours and high winds the cascading ponds were in need of some TLC.
More boulders were added to the tops of the dams to prevent the clay from being washed out.
Stones at the base of the structures were also added to. This work was done during a welcome dry spell while the levels were low. Since then more heavy rain has put the newly landscaped structures to the test.
As usual the team worked well together and the results have been a success.
Not far from the pools, a large bough of an old Oak tree had partly fallen and was dangerously overhanging a pathway. Using a pole saw, Ian carefully removed the dying limb to make the area safe again.
The branch and the brash were made into a new habitat pile close to the original tree.
Whilst working here, Gerry noticed another job for the list! The steps into the Hazel avenue had rotted and needed to be replaced.
Where possible the timber from the Oak tree was used to make the new step edging.
Everybody chipped in and by the end of the day the steps were as good as new!
Our sincere thanks to all of the volunteers who helped to carry out these 'extra' unforeseen but essential projects.
Wednesday, October 9th 2019
After double checking the forecast we decided not to put out the moth traps. This gave us plenty of time to walk around and explore and discover what was about. There were tiny 'gardens' of lichens to be found on marker posts and bridge rails.
There were plenty of fungi around to be examined and discussed. This fungus had a web protecting the gills and it only broke down when the spores were ready to be released.
One fungus that I hoped to show to everyone today was Meadow Coral, that I had photographed on Sunday. Disappointingly it had totally disappeared.
We know where to look for Kidney-spot Ladybirds but they have hidden away, however some were walking about on a willow tree in the sunshine.
Last dates for butterfly sightings are being recorded and Red Admiral and Speckled Wood were added to the observation board. Also on the wing were Common Darters.
Peter was out and about strimming the path edgeways, possibly for the last time this year.
State of Nature Report 2019
Monday, October 7th 2019
Recently, one of our volunteers has been attempting to trap and record small mammals on the reserve. With fifty Longworth traps on loan from the Mammal Society it was hoped that several different species would be recorded. Hours were spent setting the special traps correctly and with the right kind of food to keep voles and shrews going for several hours.
However, the results have been really disappointing with so far only one Wood Mouse turning up! This is maybe not such a surprise as a lack of small mammal sightings was definitely the case over the summer months. In previous years Field Voles and Pygmy Shrews were often seen out in the open and there was plenty of evidence of them such as 'runs' (tracks and trails) in the grass. The ringers have noticed a lack of owls this year and this was thought to be linked with poor vole numbers. Although Barn Owls have been seen more regularly in the daytime perhaps giving the impression that their numbers were good, this could have been a sign that they were hungry and out hunting when they should have been sleeping. Eighteen dead Barn Owls were handed in to reserve staff during the summer and most of these had been found in the road having been hit by a vehicle. All of them were very thin indicating a lack of food. In nest boxes where chicks were raised the number of young was down too with several not surviving (when food supplies are low owlets will resort to eating each other).
With the State of Nature Report 2019 findings this seems to be just a part of a depressing 'big picture' of biodiversity in the UK. The report is written by the NBN (National Biodioversty Network). According to the document there has been a 13% decline in the average abundance of species (8,418) studied. Since 1970 60% of priority species have declined. A quarter of moths have been lost, and nearly one in five butterflies. 48% of moth decline is due to climate change, which also accounts for 60% increase in aphids. The intensification of agriculture is also cited as a key driver of species loss.
Almost one in five plants are classified as being at risk of extinction, along with 15% of fungi and lichens, 40% of vertebrates and 12% of invertebrates. Habitat loss is a big issue for example 97% of the UKs wildflower meadows have been lost in the last century.
The NBN recognises the importance of volunteers who record and collect data such as the moth group, butterfly recorders and bird ringers at Foxglove and the experts who verify this data at County level and on a more positive note according to them the number of people recording wildlife data has swelled over the last 50 years and technological advances will only make it easier for people to record and share data. Furthermore, structured citizen science projects are growing in popularity and other projects are focused on engaging more people with the wildlife around them and making nature more accessible. Plus, studies have shown that being outside in green spaces has a positive impact on our mental health. So, there are multiple reasons to get outside and multiple ways to get involved with recording wildlife so that even more species and records can be included in future reports.
Here is a statement from the NBN:
“We owe a debt of gratitude to those devoted people in their wellies and raincoats with their notebooks and mobile phone apps, without whom we would not know which species had declined or increased over decades. Without this, it would also make it difficult to know what practices were detrimental to the environment or whether conservation projects were working.
The data these dedicated recorders collect should not be underestimated. It plays a vital role in increasing knowledge about the UK’s wildlife, which is so important, not only for scientists, but for all of us.”
So keep up the good work folks!
Finding the Fence and Learning New Skills
Sunday, October 6th 2019
Last week a group of students from Risedale Community and Sports College began the task of finding the wooden fence on the edge of the reserve by Plover's Pool. Gorse from the training area had completely grown over the fence from the other side. The spikey bushes were not only keeping the wooden posts damp but the structure also needed to be checked to ensure that was stock proof (to keep the sheep out and the ponies in)! The students did an amazing job and found the first fifty metres. Later in the week, volunteers armed with loppers and pruning saws continued with the work.
Where possible the stumps were cut down to ground level, a back breaking job!
Larger branches were dragged to the edge of the wetland to a designated fire site.
Smaller pieces were transported in tonne sacks over the boggy ground.
Working as a team with some people cutting, some dragging and others burning, the job was made a lot easier. There were lots of comments about not needing expensive gym membership!
The fence was soon cleared and attention turned to removing the young Gorse from the banks of Plover's Pool itself.
After lunch, the team split in two with half cutting one of the mini meadows and the other half remaining on the moorland.
Volunteers are always encouraged to have a go at something new and one of our volunteer students decided to strim for the first time. In no time at all, one of the large glades along the Easy Access trail was cut!
A new glade was also created where Bracken had tried to take over. The cuttings were raked into hay piles on the edges and left to decompose.
This work is necessary because without some form of management, the wildflowers would become swamped by grasses and would be unable to survive. As always, all of this help with habitat management is really appreciated and will make a difference to the wildlife.
A Weather Mixture
Saturday, October 5th 2019
The weather is variable to say the least. A mixture of everything but snow! Hope I haven't spoken too soon! Flower quantity is low but there are still many species in flower. Hemp Agrimony is one and will still be available for some days yet, for any brave butterflies and bees who venture out on warm sunny days.
Some of the clumps have already set seed. I think the seed head is more atractive than the flower.
Devil's Bit Scabious is also flowering in the more sheltered areas. It is ideal for catching those fine drizzly rain drops.
Rain drops on grasses sometimes defy gravity.
Scrutiny of the forecast on Tuesday night suggested that we could have a good catch, mild early then cold. Not to be. We recorded four moths and one of those was on the Field Centre. A Red-line Quaker was released and was well camouflaged on the log.
Some moths on the wing at this time of year rely on Ivy for food and it is just coming into flower. Other insects also value it as a food source and a tiny fly can be seen. If you look closely there are silken threads across parts of the flower, so a spider is hiding somewhere.
Conditions are improving for fungi and small ones are beginning to appear. A small clump was growing on a decaying log, providing food, probably for slugs or snails.
Whilst examining this fungi we spotted a rare find, Green Elfcup. This fungi stains the wood green but we do not often find the fruiting bodies.
Welcome To The Team!
Friday, October 4th 2019
There are two new faces at Foxglove this week as we are joined by two graduates from Teesside University. It has been a pleasure to welcome Alex and Carla to the Foxglove team and they will be working at the reserve fulltime for the next three months.
Alex will be involved in the day to day running of the reserve as Assistant Reserve Manager and has already carried out a huge variety of tasks from assisting with ringing Meadow Pipits, clearing reeds from the lakeside to burning unwanted gorse on the wetland! Carla has a different role and is working on a research project, she is currently studying the bird ringing data to learn more about the survival and migratory behaviour of Willow Warblers. 10, 047 of these birds have been caught and processed at the reserve over the last twenty-eight years so there is plenty of data to analyse! Carla has already discovered that over 6, 000 of these were new birds and that over 3, 000 of them have returned to breed here at least once since they were first ringed. One of the birds returned for eight consecutive years! In between hours spent indoors number crunching Carla has joined in with the regular volunteers to get a bit of fresh air, well at least that's the theory!
We hope that their time at Foxglove will be a fun and worthwhile experience to enhance their CVs.
Wet Weather Work
Wednesday, October 2nd 2019
Over the past few days volunteers have braved all kinds of different weather conditions. Tasks have been varied and many of the indoor jobs that have been on the 'to do' list for a long time have finally been completed. Hides have been cleaned, tools have been sharpened and stores have been reorganised! In between heavy downpours the team have been toiling away to improve the visitor experience. The car park by the information shelter has received a complete makeover!
Firstly, the huge pile of aggregate was removed to make more space. Next, wooden poles were set into the ground to mark out distinct parking bays.
Finally, staples were hammered into the poles to make them less slippery in wet weather.
Pot holes in the road have been filled in too (several times)!
Other jobs included taking down bird ringing equipment ready to be stored in the dry over winter.
Work has also continued on improving the surface along the Easy Access (red) trail.
Last but not least, Lark and Taurus had a token gift of hay to cheer them up in the prolonged heavy rain.
Exmoors are extremely hardy and you can see that even though they had been out in torrential rain for days their undersides had remained dry!
Wet and Wild!
Wednesday, October 2nd 2019
Yorkshire has had more than its fair share of rainfall over the last few days and this has had a huge impact on the series of ponds and lakes all over the reserve.
The cascading ponds at the head of the lake have been quite spectacular!
It is good to see that the newly renovated dams have stood firm as have the boulders that were added by volunteers at the base of each one.
The roar of fast running water could be heard almost everywhere, here is the outflow from the main lake.
Risedale Beck has also been very high but fortunately, so far there has been no real damage to any of the footpaths and bridges.
Tuesday, October 1st 2019
If plants are to survive they must produce cones, seeds, berries or fruits. These in turn must germinate and so grow into new plants. Some seeds only require to drop on the ground and the following spring new shoots appear, like the Yellow Rattle on the moor. Some have a much more complicated pre-germination process and can take many years before new green leaves appear. Certain seeds, berries and fruits need to pass through the digestive system of birds or other animals. To make themselves appealing to be eaten many berries turn red. Foxglove's Hawthorn trees are covered in red berries and these will soon be eaten by our own Blackbirds and Thrushes and later by the winter migrants, mainly Redwings and Fieldfares.
Whitebeam are often planted in towns and on housing estates, showing their white flowers in early summer and red berries in autumn. During this year we set ourselves the task to find the Whitebeam planted on the reserve. We found one. Walking along the path near the lake we spotted a tree covered in red berries, we had found a second one. How we had missed this in the spring is a total mystery. Possibly we were walking along looking at other things! These berries will also provide food for the birds.
Holly berries are just turning red. Like some fruits that we eat that can taste sweet or sour, I suspect that these berries are the same. Some years trees are cleared of every berry, other times not a one is eaten. Also this can happen at various times through late autumn and winter.
The female Juniper trees around the heath have produced a good crop of blue cones, which take several years to ripen. They do not appear to be eaten by anything. Very special treatment before being set to germinate is required and then it may take two years before they actually show any signs of growth.
When walking around the reserve keep your eyes on these berries and you may be lucky to see a variety of birds having a feast.