Blog Archive (12) Posts Made in September 2021
The Beginnings of Autumn
Sunday, September 26th 2021
The 1st, the Met Office autumn date, and 22nd of September, the equinox, have passed and so it is definitely autumn. Signs of autumn are beginng to show themselves. Some Beech leaves in the tree in the orchard have turned golden. Usually these leaves remain on the tree right through until spring.
Outside the Field Centre the Red Oak is showing off its red leaves.
Larch needles have just a hint of yellow to them but their cones are hanging heavily on the branches. Over winter flocks of birds can be heard twittering as they feed from the cones.
Hawthorn berries are ready and waiting for the migrant Blackbirds and Redwings.
Warm sun brings out the butterflies and once warmed by the sun they feed, storing up fat levels ready for hibernation. Brightly coloured Comma butterflies hibernate in amongst dead leaves.
This Speckled Wood looks somewhat battered but is camouflaged against the fallen leaves. The males usually perch in a suny glade, from where they rises rapidly to intercept any intruder. Both sexes feed on honeydew in the treetops and are rarely seen feeding on flowers, except early and late in the year when aphid activity is low. Winter survival relies on caterpillars and pupae, which is unusual amongst butterflies.
Thank you to Andrew for providing the Larch and butterfly photos.
Weekly Round Up
Friday, September 24th 2021
Visitors often ask what a typical day at the reserve involves. The answer is always 'there isn't one'! Work varies from day to day depending on the season, the weather and the help available. Last week volunteers assisted in catching a sheep with a bad foot so that it could be treated. Earlier this week, the same sheep discovered that he could fit underneath the bottom rail of the wooden fence. Caesar (with the spotty fleece) had been joining visitors on their walks!
A new wire was added to prevent him from wandering around the reserve! All 7 are now back where they should be safe and sound.
Sections of boardwalk had to be repaired too, not a scheduled task but one that was found on a routine walk. As often is the case, it turned out to be a much bigger job than expected!
An invasive pondweed from New Zealand (Crassula helmsii) was spotted in one of the ponds and needed to be removed.
Another 'wader' job!
The weeds were carefully removed from the area.
Back on dry land, chaff was sieved ready to be put in large bird feeders all around the reserve.
Other work carried out included footpath repairs, monitoring for Mink and identifying moths, fungi and flowers.
Thank you to everyone involved, it all makes such a difference!
Monday, September 20th 2021
The bees are busy around the flowers, feeding on the nectar. Water Mint is a good nectar flower. Thanks to Tim for these photos.
Andrew also caught one feeding, this time on Hemp Agrimony.
It was starting to feel warm and this bee was cleaning itself and warming up. It was also raising a leg to warn me that I was too close!
Views Around the Reserve
Sunday, September 19th 2021
It is not often that there is a combination of sun, blue skies and white fluffy clouds, and no wind at Spigot Mere. These conditions show Spigot Mere as a large mirror!
Risedale Beck runs through this hidden away part of the reserve.
The woodland offers views of Risedale Beck through the trees but sometimes it is the sun sparkling through the dark trunks of the conifers that catch the eye.
Not long after sunrise across the heath.
Saturday, September 18th 2021
Andrew and Jan visited the reserve this week on a warm sunny day and the butterflies were out in profusion. No apologies for more photos of these beautiful insects, feeding up for hibernation. Catching a Peacock sunbathing on the boardwalk shows off its fantastic colours and patterns.
Hemp Agrimony's flowers are full of nectar and the butterflies (and bees) are always flitting from one flower to the next. Catching two different species at the same time, especially as one of them is a Comma, (the other is a Red Admiral) shows that, at least, sometimes they like to share.
Andrew also managed to catch a 'dragon' in flight.
Thank you Andrew for great photos showing off the beautifully coloured species that can be found at Foxglove.
Maxwell emptied the moth traps this morning. One had very few moths whilst the other held more including the first Red-line Quaker of autumn. Seven Pink-barred Sallows were also caught from this trap. The adults feed on Ivy flowers and overripe Blackberries, of which there were many in the surrounding area.
But the best catch of the day, although one should not have favourites, was the Red Underwing. In recent decades this moth has spread into Northern England. A few weeks ago one was caught but it refused to show its red underwings and flew off strongly. Today this one did show its colours but the background was not of the best however the colours more than make up for it. When released for a better photo - yes it flew off!
Moths are a good way down the food chain and many other creatures feed on them. A spider came out of its tunnel web on the ceiling of the veranda and claimed a micro moth. A Large Wainscot was released and flew onto a branch and no sooner had it landed than a Robin swooped down for its breakfast!
Thank you Maxwell for emptying and identifying all the moths. All the data willl be forwarded to Dr Charlie Fletcher the recorder for VC 65.
Army Welfare Service
Monday, September 13th 2021
During the last week of the school summer holidays two groups from the Army Welfare Service visited the reserve.
They enjoyed a walk to learn about the wildlife that lives in the different habitats.
No summer trip to the reserve would be complete without a spot of pond dipping!
A fun time was had by all!
Ringing at the Crater
Sunday, September 12th 2021
This morning some members of the Swaledale Ringing Group arrived at Wilmire Crater, a conservation area on the MOD training area, right on top of the Pennines! Meadow Pipits use this migration route from their summer breeding grounds out on the moors, right across the Pennines and beyond. After a quiet start the 'Mipits', as they are affectionately known, began to arrive in the nets. The majority of the birds caught are juveniles; the adults started south before them.
Their diet includes many invertebrates and seeds, which are abundant in and around the area. They need to build up fat stores for their migration.
One of the distinguishing characteristics of these birds is the long hind claw which can be easily seen in this photograph.
Other birds were also caught but in fewer numbers such as a single juvenile Goldfinch seen here. If you look closely you can just see its red feathers coming through on its head. A charm is the name given to a group of Goldfinches. They can often be seen feeding on thistle seed heads.
5 Reed Buntings were also ringed. The UK population of Reed Buntings fell by 31% between 1970 and 2007. This decline was probably caused by the reduction of damp habitats and food sources on farmland. There has been a partial recovery over the last 15 years. They feed on a variety of seeds and insects.
Thank you to everyone involoved in this special conservation project including Brian and Ian who strimmed the net rides.
Hints of Autumn
Friday, September 10th 2021
Although still sunny and warm it is officially autumn. The reserve is beginning to change its coat of summer to that of autumn.
Darters and hawkers are hunting over the ponds and defending their territories. Tim was very lucky to have a Black Darter visit him, as he stood and watched dragons and damsels on Plover's Pool. They have been sighted more in recent years and were seen egg laying. Thank you for the photo.
Butterflies feed whenever the temperature rises and the sun is out. Small Tortoiseshells have had another good year and there are many of them around.
A great deal of work was carried out in an area called the Sedge Warbler patch. This has resulted in a multitude of flowers across the seasons.
There are plenty of nectar plants for bees
and butterflies like the Brimstone.
Later in the year when all the flowers have set seed, this area will be cut and raked. This will ensure more flowers come the spring and summer.
This is also the season of spiders! Drizzle and dew show the webs to their full beauty. Rarely do you see the spiders.
Occasionally when the sun shines a web can be caught glistening and the spider is waiting for prey.
Monday, September 6th 2021
It was a day of various sightings, small and large. A Wall butterfly was seen near Plover's Pool. These butterflies are not often recorded at Foxglove. Although many seed heads were in the area where it was flying, it did manage to find a flower to feed from.
Speckled Wood butterflies were not seen in large numbers earlier in the year but they are making up for it now. Every sunny glade has at least one defedning its territory.
Whilst watching for 'dragons and damsels' a Common Blue butterfly was seen, unfortunately it did not rest. On checking its flight season it can be seen right through to October.
Something a little larger was one of the Dexter bullocks on the wetland. There are three Dexter cattle in this area and as well as eating some of the vegetation, they are poaching some of the ponds.
Some fungi are beginning to show their fruiting bodies, especially from the log piles.
The flower/hay meadow was cut at the weekend as the forecast was for no rain and warm weather, for the next few days. These are the conditions needed to dry the sward once it is cut. Ian came in this afternoon as the heat had dried the drizzly rain from the hay. Once the hay starts to dry, it needs to be worked to promote curing. This is called tedding which fluffs up the cut hay and allows the air and sun to contact the undersurfaces to promote drying. The hay will be bailed in the next few days - before the rain arrives! Thank you Ian.
Moths Butterflies and a ‘Dragon’
Friday, September 3rd 2021
As autumn begins so the weather forecast is scrutinised and if the weather is acceptable the moth trap is put out. The species change as the seasons change, and the numbers caught can decrease. On Thursday morning when the trap was emptied the moths we see in autumn were present.
Autumnal Rustic is a beautiful moth and when freshly hatched often shows hints of red on its wings. The caterpillars feed on a wide range of grasses and plants.
Frosted Orange is another autumn visitor to the trap. The larvae feed internally in the wide stems of such plants as thistle and burdock, also pupating within the stem.
Although basically all the same colour the Rosy Rustic moth has a charm all of its own. It can be assumed that caterpillars eat leaves, but some surprise us as in this case the larvae live on a range of low plants, but especially Dock, feeding beneath the ground on the roots.
Relatives of the moths are the butterflies. Catching sight of them does depend on the weather! Small Tortoiseshells have been seen in increasing numbers over the last two years. The adults feed on many of the late summer flowers but do seem to enjoy the Water Mint.
Red Admirals are beginning to be recorded on Hemp Agrimony.
In the sunshine and warmth I watched as 'dragons' flew rapidly over the Scrapes ponds. I waited with baited breath for any to settle but to no avail. The best shot I took required some imagination that the tiny blue splodge was a dragonfly. I will not say that I was jealous of Gerry's photo of a 'dragon', but. A great photo Gerry.
Work, Guests, Bees and Flowers
Thursday, September 2nd 2021
Some jobs from the 'todo' list were crossed off today. The Beech and numerous other species hedge that had grown considerably was able to be cut down and all the branches and stems collected together and removed. Ian and Roger carried out this task.
Brian and Peter worked on the boardwalk.
Moss and other debris was removed from the edges of the boardwalk. This has turned out to be a much bigger task than first thought, as can be seen by the amount of material collected from a small area.
Bob was working on poles for an elevator mist net to help to catch Redwing when they arrive on the reserve in a few weeks time. The net ride was checked and strimmed and already the Blackbirds were there feeding on the Hawthorn berries. At lunch time to give everyone more energy some celebration cake was consumed!
At break time Bess decided that she needed some protection and so went to sit behind Emma, much safer there.
Thank you to all the volunteers working on jobs various today. All your help is always appreciated.
Bedale RDA came for a picnic and a walk around the reserve before they head back to classes next Thursday. This group have also been granted the Queen's Award for Voluntary Service. They presented Gerry with a thank you card and donation.
Monday was Bee Happy Day but the bees weren't very happy because it was cold and damp. Today there was sunshine and the bees were making the most of the warm weather. Sawwort always has bees feeding from it.
Hemp Agimony is also good for bees.
The flowers that come into bloom in late summer are essential not only for the bees but many other insects. It was noticed that yet again someone has been cutting and removing Meadowsweet from the reserve. Foxglove Covert is a designated Local Nature Reserve and flowers should NOT be picked from this area. Every flower plays its part in the many habitats that volunteers work so hard to maintain for the benefit of wildlife and for many people to enjoy.
Wednesday, September 1st 2021
Gerry received a phone call to head to Tesco to collect a bag of bird seed that we had won! Katie had seen the competition advertised and entered Foxglove. Thank you very much Tesco. The seed will be used in the back garden so visitors can see the variety of birds that feed there.
Birds to watch out for include Nuthatch, Robin and Goldfinch. Coal Tits are also returning to the reserve from their breeding grounds in the local conifer plantations.
More good news. Many thanks to Moto Hospitality for their grant of £150 to purchase some tools to assist the volunteers in their many varied tasks around the reserve, including keeping the paths and boardwalks in good order.