Blog Archive (9) Posts Made in December 2020
Wednesday, December 30th 2020
Willow coppicing has continued over the festive period and in all weather conditions; some of which have been quite challenging!
Invasive Silver Birch had crowded out the Willow and has had to be removed but there is still plenty of it elsewhere on the reserve.
Some of the brash was burned on a bonfire which also made a welcome source of heat!
The area is really taking shape and although it looks drastic now, by the end of spring it will all be green again as the Willow shoots back up with fresh stems and the wildflowers flourish in the additional light adding a splash of colour.
Staff also cared for the livestock over the break. This involved cutting back brambles to try and prevent them from getting tangled (their favourite pastime)!
All of this hard work in the cold and wet is appreciated; thank you to all involved from checking the sheep, coppicing the Willow, carrying out weekly checks, repairing boardwalk and keeping the Field Centre open.
Friday, December 25th 2020
To all Friends, Vounteers and supporters of the reserve, Best Wishes and a Merry Christmas from the Reserve Managers and the members of the Management Group.
Reasons To Be Cheerful!
Monday, December 21st 2020
Number 1: Today marks the Winter Solstice which means that from today the days will begin to slowly stretch out again. Summer is on its way!
2. The reserve is open everyday over the holiday period from 9.00am - dusk mid-week and from 10.00am - dusk on weekends. It is only closed on Christmas day, Boxing day and New Years Day! So grab your warm coats, wellies and a pencil and search for Edward the Elf along the Red Route to get some fresh air! Can you find all of the ingredients for his magic potion?! Spotter sheets are available from the Field Centre for only 50p. If you find Edward please take his photo and share it on our Facebook page.
3. The unruly Hebridean and Shetland sheep are where we left them on the wetland and haven't escaped or got tangled in brambles for two consecutive days!
Mink Rafts and Marshmallows!
Sunday, December 20th 2020
Newly constructed Mink rafts have been put out at key places around the reserve to help monitor for Mink. The rafts contain a clay pad inside a tunnel. As the animals are very curious, if they were passing by, they would most likely venture through the tunnel leaving their footprints behind. It is important to check for their presence in order to protect the Water Vole population at the reserve. The Mink in Britain are not native, they are American ones that originated from those brought here for fur-farming.
On their last visit before the Christmas break, a small group from the Northallerton Personalised Learning Centre made food for the wild birds. They left some of it at Foxglove where it won't last long! Their support is appreciated and we wish all of the staff and young people a Happy Christmas and look forward to seeing them in 2021!
Work continued in the coppice block; cutting back Willow and removing Silver Birch. Volunteers enjoyed a well earned break by toasting marshmallows on the bonfire. Much of the wood from here is being made into woodchips now too.
Here's Gerry testing out a 'smore' after a shift on the woodchipper!
A Special Glimpse!
Tuesday, December 15th 2020
The Foxglove bird ringers monitor over 100 large nest boxes. This year, a camera was placed inside one of the Tawny Owl nest boxes for a two week period. The resulting pictures are really special because Tawny Owls are strictly nocturnal and rarely seen during the daytime unless they are disturbed.
With Tawny Owls, incubation starts with the first egg, leading to asynchronous hatching – a clever plan which increases the survival of at least some chicks if food is scarce. In this box there were two healthy owlets and you can see from their size that they are slightly different ages due to the hatching strategy. The photographs were taken in the middle of May when the chicks were around 4 weeks old.
The pictures captured moments that show the close bond between the adult and chicks such as at feeding times.
The adults could also be seen preening their young.
The pair of chicks seemed to be well fed and content. They were both ringed and managed to fledge successfully.
The ringers received an email from the BTO (British Trust for Ornithology) today reporting that one of the Barn Owls that was ringed as a chick earlier in the year had been found injured in the road. It was cared for and then when fit and strong enough, it was released back into the wild. Another happy ending!
Weekly Round Up
Thursday, December 10th 2020
Most of the focus this week has been on the Willow Coppice as expected. Another swathe of Willow and scrub has been cleared to encourage rejuvenation. This work is carried out on a ten year rotation and it is hard to believe that this area was cleared back in 2010. Back then, the team was working in deep snow!
Today, there was extra assistance from a group from Help for Heroes. Although the organisation is no longer operating out of Catterick Recovery Centre they are focusing on community delivery instead and volunteering at Foxglove is a great way to get involved.
Aside from the coppicing, Mink rafts that have been recently made were kitted out with trays of oasis and clay and will be installed soon.
Many other tasks were carried out too including step repairs, sign renovation and newsletter editing and even packing of Reindeer food! Another fun and productive week at the reserve, thank you to everyone involved whether you braved the mud in the coppice block or worked from home, it all makes a significant difference.
Finally, No week at Foxglove would be complete without a 'sheep story'; this time two of the Hebrideans had got completely tangled and stuck in brambles! Fortunately, they managed to free themselves when they were approached by staff.
At least they are in the right location for a change!
Sunday, December 6th 2020
Over the past 28 years, hundreds of native trees have been planted at Foxglove. Close to path edges you will find several Spindle trees. This small tree is most striking in the autumn when its narrow, oval leaves turn reddish-orange and clusters of bright pink-and-orange berries hang from its twigs. These berries provide food for all kinds of wildlife. This picture was taken on the Red Route (close to where Edward the Elf was last seen).
It isn't just Edward the Elf who has a habit of moving about when people aren't looking; four of the Hebridean sheep had a jolly out on the training area last week!
They are back where they should be now and the gate that they went under has been modified to prevent them from escaping again!
Christmas at Foxglove
Saturday, December 5th 2020
The reserve is open all year round and is only closed on Christmas Day, Boxing Day and New Year's Day. The Field Centre is open again and there are lots of Natural History themed gift ideas from bespoke bird boxes, hedgehog houses and bat boxes to wildlife books and charts. The elves have been busy packing reindeer food too (sprinkle it on your lawn for Rudolph and his friends)! If you are stuck for a gift to post you can sponsor a bird box on the reserve and the certificate can be sent directly to the recipient with a personal message.
There are new Christmas cards in stock too, illustrated by Brigadier Mark Conroy. All proceeds from sales in the Field Centre go directly Foxglove Covert Foundation (Registered charity 1197745). There are several designs to choose from including this Redwing in the snow.
To have a bit of 'screen free' family time, have a go at the Christmas Elf Trail; a self guided trail around the Red Route (pushchair and wheelchair friendly) to look for natural clues. Help Edward the Elf to find all of the ingredients for his magic potion and learn some fun facts along the way. He needs lots of items including twigs, feathers and autumn leaves.
No need to book as this is a self guided activity, just pick up a clue sheet from the Field Centre (only 50p) and bring your own pencil from home to tick off the items when you see them. If you spot Edward the Elf on your adventure then please take his photo and upload it to our Facebook page!
Working in the Willow
Friday, December 4th 2020
Sunshine and showers summarise the weather this week. In between the wintery rain the blue sky contrasted greatly with the reedbed in the Scrapes.
Only a stone's throw from here, work continued on the main task for the winter which is to coppice one of the areas of Willow Carr. Although it looks quite drastic the vegetation soon grows back and by spring next year it will be green again.
Useful wood was carried out to the roadside to be used on other projects, it was quite a trek!
It was a good work out and although everyone is encouraged to work at their own pace it did get a little competitive!
Invasive Birch was cut down to make more space and light for the wildflowers such as Betony that flourish here.
By the end of the week, almost a third of the Willow was cut. Fingers crossed for some drier weather next week when the team hopes to get the job 'bossed'!
On the wetter days, the team thinned out more conifer plantation and edged the woodland walk path, this winter's 'wet weather' job! Inside the workshop, Mink rafts were built and signs were painted, it looked a little like Santa's workshop!
Thank you to everyone who has worked on the reserve this week.