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Blog Archive (9) Posts Made in April 2021

Stake and Chips!

Friday, April 16th 2021

Visitors who haven't been for a while will notice a big difference at the Outdoor Classroom where the removal of diseased Ash trees has opened up the area. There are usually lots of Bluebells here in the summer so hopefully these will spread now that more light is reaching the ground.

The tidy up operation was a mammoth task with most of the brash being made into woodchips.

In this area the woodchips were scattered thinly around the bracken where they will soon decompose.

The team of newly qualified 'woodchippers' have also been busy in the woodland where they have shredded brash from conifers that were thinned out during the winter months.

These woodchips were perfect for path surfacing so were loaded up and moved by wheelbarrow to the wettest parts of the woodland trail.

Some of the brash was used to line the footpath first to prevent the woodchips from sinking!

The finished section of path looked very inviting!

Conifer trunks had also been saved to edge the paths further along the green route. The long lengths ensured that the volunteers stuck to social distancing rules!

The poles were installed and pegged into place with wooden stakes. This is a great way to define the path and reuse materials from the reserve.

The work is ongoing but already has made a good difference to the woodland walks. Thank you to everyone who has helped out over the last few weeks.

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A Warm Welcome!

Wednesday, April 14th 2021

This week, due to the easing of restrictions, we were able to welcome back a regular group from the Northallerton Personalised Learning College. The students were pleased to be back at the reserve and out in the fresh air and sunshine.

It was the perfect opportunity to look for some early signs of spring and where better to start than in the Scrapes where there is plenty of Toadspawn. The group collected some fresh pondwater and a small amount of Toadspawn to put in the classroom aquarium. 

Once it had been collected in a clear container, everyone could have a closer look at the long ribbons of jelly with black dots. It will be interesting to watch these develop over the next few weeks before the young Toads are released back into the ponds.

Parts of the reserve are now open to members of the public again however, only the outdoor trails, carparks and toilets are open for now.  It is hoped to reopen the Field Centre and hides at the next phase of the government's roadmap on May 17th. You can hear more about this in an interview with Dales Radio on a podcast. Thanks to Jennifer Scott, the member pioneer at Leyburn Co-op, who invited us to attend her slot to explain how the Co-op Local Community Fund  has helped Foxglove during the pandemic. The money has made a huge difference! We are still part of this scheme and it's easy to do ... simply log on to your Co-op account and follow the links supporting your local causes.  You'll find us in the SPACES category. If you don't live locally, you can still choose Foxglove as your cause by quoting the reference number: 35823

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Red, White and Blue

Monday, April 12th 2021

Scarlet Elf Cup was found growing on an old log pile down near to Risedale Beck. In European folklore, it was said that wood elves drank morning dew from the cups!

Once again, Barn Owls are breeding on the reserve. Last year, the female was buried by Jackdaws several times who covered her with twigs and sheep wool (their nesting material). This year, a close eye will be kept on the box to make sure there are no intruders! This owl was ringed by the bird ringers last week and had an especially bright white chest. Associated with the night the Barn Owl has also been called the Ghost Owl, the Church Owl even the Death Owl. This one was more sleepy than scary!

Although not in flower yet, the Bluebells on the bank in the woodland are looking promising with plenty of green leaves. In a few weeks time this area will be a beautiful sight. In folklore, Bluebells were said to ring when fairies were summoning their kin to a gathering; but if a human heard the sound, it would be their death knell. Not surprisingly, it was considered unlucky to trample on a bed of Bluebells, because you would anger the fairies resting there!

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Relaxation of Restrictions April 2021

Sunday, April 11th 2021

Following the Government Roadmap guidance, the car parks, outdoor trails and toilets will reopen from MONDAY 12 APRIL (The main part of the Field Centre and viewing hides will remain closed for now).

Government guidelines mean that anyone entering the Field Centre must wear a mask and check in to Foxglove Covert LNR on the NHS Track and Trace App or fill in their contact details on the sheet provided.

Hand gel will be provided in the entrance way to the toilets.

The two metre rule will still apply everywhere on the reserve.

Opening times will remain as follows:

Mid-week 9:00am - 5:00pm

Weekends and Bank Holidays 10:00am - 4:00pm

All organised groups must book in advance by contacting a Reserve Manager on 01748 830045 or 07754 270980 or by emailing: foxglovelnr@btinternet.com.

The safety of our staff, volunteers and visitors remains paramount and the Management Group will keep the situation under continuous review. Should the situation change it may be necessary to consider further appropriate measures. 

The Management Group and staff thank you all, for your continued support.

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A Special Thank You

Wednesday, April 7th 2021

The members of the Management Group would like to thank the staff and volunteers who have been hard at work for the past few months preparing the reserve for the re-opening on 12th April.

The only volunteers who have been able to help during the latest lockdown have been those issued with a security pass as they do not have to book into the guard room. However, after April 12th we look forward to welcoming more volunteers both old and new to assist with the day to day running of the reserve. 

Over the last fortnight work has focused on the final tidying after the Ash Dieback works…

...and bridge repairs (or as in the case here, bridge replacement)!

Bird feeders have also been kept topped up to help out our feathered friends during the current cold snap!

Much of this in freezing temperatures and wintery showers!

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Sunshine and Snow Showers

Wednesday, April 7th 2021

With the recent arctic blast, the reserve has had a few flurries of snow and hail. 

Not very much settled on the ground.

Along the path to the beck Gorse is in flower. Folklore states that when gorse is out of bloom, you should not kiss your loved ones. But, as the different species of gorse bloom throughout the year, it can usually be found during every month. It will be a welcome source of early nectar for the Foxglove honey bees!

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First Moth Trapping Results

Tuesday, April 6th 2021

Weather forecasts were scrutinised, several as they can all give different temperatures and wind speeds but last Tuesday night was looking good, so the traps were set.  Nearly one hundred moths were recorded. 

One moth was identified as Dark Sword-grass.  This was confirmed as the first migrant of the year in the county and the earliest record in VC 65.

As an immigrant this moth has been recorded in every month of the year, but it is mainly seen between July and October.  It is thought that those that arrive in early spring lay eggs and the larvae develop probably feeding on herbaceous plants.  These larvae swell the number of autumn immigrants.  However breeding has not been confirmed.

A moth that always gives pleasure, as its name is indicative of its characteristics, is the Yellow Horned Moth.  Unfortunately this one has tucked away his yellow antenna!  The larvae are quite specific feeders eating Silver and Downy Birch.

As the name suggests the larvae of Pine Beauty feeds on pine needles, especailly the fresh growth.  The adults feed from willow catkins.

Hebrew Characters are easily identified even though their characteristics may vary.  They can arrive in large numbers in the trap from March to early May.

Thanks to the moth team for identifying the moths and to Chris for the photographs.

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Tawny Owls

Monday, April 5th 2021

Tawny Owls have been monitored by the Swaledale Ringing Group for 30 years and this work is ongoing. The group look after over 100 large nest boxes which are not just used by owls; some are inhabited by Kestrels, Barn Owls and occasionally Jackdaws and squirrels too! Some of the boxes were checked last week to see what stage the Tawny Owls are at and most seem to be sitting on eggs already with many having up to 3 eggs. The owl shown here was a new one that was ringed for the first time.

As to be expected, most of the adults found on the nests were already ringed. One of them (in the photo below) was first ringed back in 2007 and had been caught several times since. Another was ringed as a chick in 2008 and hadn't been caught since. This kind of information on survival and longevity is extremely valuable to the BTO (British Trust for Ornithology) who analyse it to identify patterns and trends in the owl population.

At the end of the year data is also submitted to the Hawk and Owl Trust who kindly provide some of the nest boxes.

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Water Droplets, Ferns and more Work

Thursday, April 1st 2021

The weather forecast did not suggest rain or drizzle but that is what appeared this morning.  Although this made it damp underfoot it did give rise to water droplets on the vegetation.

This willow was coated in tiny water droplets.

Primroses also caught the droplets.

Foxglove has many shady damp places that give a variety of ferns ideal conditions to thrive.  Three ferns do not grow in profusion at Foxglove.  One is the Hart's Tongue Fern.  It is noticeable by having solid leaves and lines of sori on the underside.  This clump can be found along Risedale Beck.  We did find more, rather a lot more, growing in the shrubs along the access road.  Once found, never to be seen again, as we have been unable to find it, even after very careful, thorough searches.  We will have another look in spring when new fronds grow.

Two other ferns were found today, Common Polypody growing on a dead tree and Hard Fern growing in the Willow Carr.  It is good to note that they have all survived the winter. 

Pillwort, a rare aquatic fern, was also checked and it is hopeful that it too has survived in various places.  Unfortunately there was other vegetation and dead plants in the same areas so it was difficult to confirm that the Pillwort was still growing.  As it warms up so we should be able to see new growth.

Volunteers started the day by unloading the seed order and then re-loading it into the seed store.  Not an easy task.

Then it was back to clearing up, but this time it was not brash but logs that had to be moved.  Some were just the right shape to be carried,

whilst others were a little more diffcult.

It can never be said that volunteer work is not varied, it was back to brash that had to be removed along the access road.  It looks like Ian has magical powers to move the brash!

Hayley was busy repairing the quad bike track through the heath.

Many thanks for all your hard work.

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