Blog Archive (10) Posts Made in May 2021
Foxglove’s Spring Flowers
Saturday, May 29th 2021
Continuing on from the Bluebell Blog, it is noticeable that the Bluebells have benefitted from the habitat management work carried out over the years, as they are now seen in many different areas of the reserve.
Along Risedale Beck Wild Garlic or Ramsons, as they are sometimes known, grow intermingled with Bluebells.
Close up they are a stunning flower. Once disturbed the garlic scent is easily detected.
Crab Apple trees are in full flower and providing plenty of food for bees. Every flower that opens is essential to a variety of bugs, beasties, creepy crawlies and of course bees.
Common Milkwort is a low growing plant of moorland and in this case it has spread amongst the Lousewort.
The Bogbean pond in the Scrapes is in full bloom and for once the timing was right to take a photograph without the lower flowers fading.
Lady's Smock or Cuckoo flower with their delicate purple flowers are dotted around the reserve. The weather has been so cold, it was a surprise to see the orange egg of an Orange Tip Butterfly fixed firmly onto the stem. Only one egg per flower, as there is not enough food for more than one hungry caterpillar.
The long weeks of low day and night temperatures has meant that some flowers have been in flower for longer than normal. Warm conditions often see them setting seed quickly. June's warm sunny days will see the summer flowers bloom, with more insects on the wing feeding from them.
Thursday, May 27th 2021
Just some pretty pictures of the Bluebells that are out at the moment on the moor - indicating that it was once woodland.
Their wonderful scent is carried on the breeze all over the reserve.
Come Rain Or Shine
Tuesday, May 25th 2021
No matter what the weather throws at the reserve, Volunteers are always hard at work behind the scenes. Over the past few weeks heavy rainfall has washed out some of the dams and these have now been reinforced to withstand flood water.
Many hours have also been spent monitoring nests including the 100 small boxes that are part of the Adopt-a-Box Scheme.
With the wettest May on record, drainage pipes that carry water away from pathways have had to be cleared and maintained (an ongoing task).
Extra help from the Personnel Recovery Centre at Catterick has been gratefully received once again. This time the team weeded out tree tubes on the moorland. These are the same trees that were planted by the PRC in 2019. The hedgerow will be a valuable wildlife corridor once it grows and the good news is that out of the several hundred metres of planting only a few of the saplings hadn't survived. The remaining ones should flourish now that they have less competition.
Thank you to everyone who has turned out in the unusually wet weather to lend a hand.
Carnagill Primary School
Wednesday, May 19th 2021
A second class from local Carnagill Primary School visited the reserve today. They were excellent nature detectives and had a great day out!
After a habitat walk, they did some pond dipping in the scrapes where they caught lots of sticklebacks and toad tadpoles. At the Outdoor Classroom, they learned about camouflage, predators and prey and searched for some invertebrates.
It was a bit chilly so the main finds were snails, spiders, beetles and worms.
Logs from the recent Ash tree works made great tabletops to work on!
Magnifying glasses were used to have a closer look at some of the creatures.
No school trip to the reserve would be complete without a quick splash in the dams!
On the way back to the Field Centre there was an attempt to walk like a giant centipede!
Thank you to all of the staff and pupils from the school who visited Foxglove this week, we hope that you will come back to see us again soon.
Back To School!
Tuesday, May 18th 2021
Finally, after over a year, we were able to welcome back a school group! Yesterday, pupils from Carnagill Primary School braved the showers and thunder storms to explore and discover some of the varied habitats on the reserve.
The children were a pleasure to work with and impressed us with their excellent behaviour and 'all weather' gear! They enjoyed pond dipping, minibeast safaris and a habitat walk. Not only did they do a lot of walking during the day, they also journeyed to and from school on foot, well done everybody!
Sunday, May 16th 2021
Since 1993, bird ringers at Foxglove have taken part in the Constant Effort Sites Scheme (CES). The Scheme provides valuable trend information on abundance of adults and juveniles, productivity and also adult survival rates for 24 species of common songbird. This year so far two visits have taken place, the second of which was today. During the first session (two weeks ago) 137 birds were caught and 18 of them were Bullfinches. In the early days of the project, Blue Tits were the most common species ringed however today there were 39 Bullfinches and only 9 Blue Tits!
A pleasant surprise this morning was not 1 but 5 Sedge Warblers! Their 'raspy' song can be heard in several places around the reserve. The Sedge Warbler is a medium-sized warbler of marshes, reedbeds and wetlands. It can be spotted singing amongst reeds and willows. The male sings random phrases into its repertoire, never singing the same song twice; he attracts more mates the more phrases his song has. These beautiful birds are summer visitors to the UK where they breed in wetland habitats from April onwards.
Thank you to the bird ringers who set their alarms for the 5am start this morning, the data gathered during these sessions is extremely valuable to the British Trust for Ornithology (BTO) and the conservation of songbirds.
Out and About
Wednesday, May 12th 2021
A relatively short time ago the fire risk was high and the ground so dry that it was showing cracks, now after rain it is very wet. The lake, ponds and becks are full. The cold days and nights have held back the flowers and only now are some beginning to flower.
Bluebells are bending their heads and covering banks with blue.
Hidden away out of sight, the Early Purple Orchids are showing their beautiful purple colour in amongst the Bluebells.
Not long after leaving the entrance gate on your right, usually unseen, as it is tall and mixed in with other trees and shrubs is an apple tree coming into bloom.
In some of the ponds the tadpoles were swimming around, now that the water temperature is rising a little.
When the sun came out and the temperature rose so one or two butterflies could be spotted. This one eventually settled on a leaf. It is a male Orange Tip, the orange showing through its closed wings.
The honey bees were making the most of the warmth and returning to the hive with plenty of pollen. Not the easiest of species to capture on 'film'!
Monday, May 10th 2021
Keen nature detectives from Colburn Beavers came to visit Foxglove last week. They had fun exploring the reserve and identifying different habitats such as coniferous and deciduous woodlands.
Before they left, they made a miniature bug hotel to take home and did some art in the forest. Here is Gerry's attempt at the Mona Lisa!
Working With Wildlife
Thursday, May 6th 2021
Volunteers have been carrying out many different conservation tasks both on and off the reserve. Owl box monitoring has been very disappointing this year with several of the Tawny Owl nests failing. Only four healthy chicks have been found in the boxes that have been checked so far.
By dissecting owl pellets it is possible to find out how what the owls have been feeding on. There were plenty of small mammal skulls in the Barn Owl pellets that were examined today which suggests that the food supply is good. Could the extreme cold night time temperatures explain the unsuccessful start to the breeding season?
In one of the large boxes a Stock Dove had made a nest. It was ringed and returned carefully.
Dam repairs have been the main focus of work on the reserve with the installation of plastic pilings to prevent leakage from some of the ponds.
The weather has thrown everything at the team from sunny spells to heavy rain showers and hail.
Finally, this Large Red Damselfly emerged from the classroom aquarium. It was released back into the wild by the Forest School pupils. Hopefully, it will survive the cool temperatures. It is the only one to have been sighted so far.
First Owlets Of The Year
Monday, May 3rd 2021
Monitoring of owl boxes this year has been somewhat hampered by the weather! Due to the cold temperatures it was put on hold and today the heavy rain means that the owls need to be left undisturbed. On Saturday, some of the boxes on the MOD training area were checked and it appears that Barn Owls are very late to breed with none of the ones checked so far having a single egg! This time last year they had well developed chicks.
Tawny Owls also seem to be breeding later than in 2020 (it was much warmer last spring). However, there does seem to be a good take up of the nest boxes.
The first Tawny Owl chicks for the year were found on Saturday, they were only a couple of days old. They had plenty of food including a small Stoat or Weasel (it couldn't be identified as the tail had already been eaten)!
As expected, some of the boxes were inhabited by Kestrels, these have some eggs already.
Jackdaws were also living in some of the boxes. The data collected will be submitted to the BTO (British Trust for Ornithology) for their Nest Record Scheme.
The Nest Record Scheme gathers vital information on the breeding success of Britain's birds by asking volunteers to find and follow the progress of individual birds' nests.