Blog Archive (22) Posts Made in October 2021
Autumn Views at Foxglove
Sunday, October 31st 2021
Foxglove is continuing its change from early autumn to late autumn. Spigot Mere easily reflects the weather. Autumn colours can now be seen in the distance, in amongst the dark green conifers.
The cut grass around the Stone Circle is a contrast to the rushes growing along the edge of Spigot Mere.
The weather is changeable and does not always follow the weather forecasts. Following heavy clouds and rainfall the sun appeared, making the grasses and orange Bracken fronds glisten. Some of the trees have lost their leaves and their dark branches often covered with moss and lichen, make bird watching a little easier.
Colourful fallen leaves cover the paths.
Sunday, October 31st 2021
It is the last day of the Pumkin Trail around the easy access Red Route. Question sheets are in the Field Centre for 50p.
Saturday, October 30th 2021
Recently, the many bat boxes that are scattered around the reserve were checked for occupants by licensed bat handlers.
The team spent a full day and did a thorough check of each and every box.
As it is late in the year most bats will be starting to hibernate now and therefore not roosting in the artificial boxes. However, there was plenty of evidence that the boxes had been used and this tiny Pipistrelle was found resting in a box close to the centre.
Our sincere thanks to David, Stacey and Jenny for giving up their day to carry out the survey.
Saturday, October 30th 2021
This month at Forest School the learners helped to continue the work in the Hazel Coppice. Under supervision they used loppers and saws to fell some more stems and to cut the Hazel into smaller pieces.
The children added lengths of Hazel to the 'fedge' (a cross between a fence and a hedge)!
Larger pieces were added to a habitat pile for creatures to live in and smaller branches that were not 'hedge worthy' were cut up for a small campfire.
Last time the group made butter and spread it onto bread. Yesterday, they had a go at mixing twister dough and baking it on the end of a stick.
Who knows what we will get up to next month?!
Thursday, October 28th 2021
Habitat management tasks that were put on hold during the summer months can now begin again. Along Risedale Beck there is a Hazel woodland which is managed through selective coppicing. This traditional woodland skill involves cutting the stools to ground level in order to encourage new growth and prolong the life of the trees. The result is increased light reaching the ground flora and benefitting the wildflowers.
There was a lot of growth on the trees as this particular area hasn't been worked on for several years.
Some of the larger pieces of timber were made into rustic fence posts and then the brash was woven into a 'dead hedge' alongside the footpath.
Rather than cutting all of the trunks to ground level at Foxglove the Hazel has always been 'selectively' coppiced. This means that only two thirds of the stems are removed. By taking away the older and larger ones and leaving some of the young shoots a 'dappled' shade is created on the woodland floor. There should be an increase in the number of Bluebells and Primroses on this bank next Spring.
A team from the Personnel Recovery Centre joined in with today's task which made a great difference to the amount of work accomplished during the day.
The cut wood was organised into large lengths for the poles and thinner more pliable pieces for the hedge.
Although unfinished, by the end of the day the new structure was already 'pleasing to the eye' and our thanks go to everyone who has worked on this project so far.
This wasn't the only new feature to be found on the reserve as some mysterious carved pumpkins appeared in the picnic area! Is 'pumpkin bombing' a thing?!
On closer inspection it was clear that they weren't just for the benefit of the visitors as they were filled with bird seed.
Thank you to the pumpkin fairies who left these lovely bird feeders behind, the birds will enjoy them!
Wildlife Activity Day
Wednesday, October 27th 2021
It was lovely to see so many families out and about enjoying Foxglove Covert today. Many did the pumpkin trail and after finding the pumpkins along the red route and answering the clues, came back to the centre to check their answers and claim a small prize. Indoors there were several wildlife themed activities for all ages.
Autumn leaves were cut and pasted onto a template to create owl pictures.
Halloween spider mobiles were made from sticks and pinecones and teasel hedgehogs were crafted with beady eyes!
Mini bug hotels were made from recycled tree tubes and material collected from the forest floor.
Animal masks were coloured and cut out; owls were a strong favourite!
With beeswax candles, bird feeders, mobiles and artwork, there was plenty to take home at the end of the day as a souvenir from a day out. Thank you to all of the families that came to support the reserve today, we hope that you enjoyed it as much as we did.
Finally, thank you to the team of volunteers who worked so hard to make the day possible. As well as running the activities there was a lot of preparation beforehand and tidying up to at the end.
The pumpkin trail will remain in place until the end of the half term holiday (1st November) and there are still places available on the pumpkin carving sessions. See the events page for further details.
Monday, October 25th 2021
Over the past few days more winter migrants have been observed at the reserve. Birdwatchers have enjoyed watching large flocks of Redwing passing through the site with the occasional Fieldfare. Brambling have also been spotted in the Field Centre back garden feeding amongst the chaffinches below the feeders. Migrating from Scandinavia and Russia, these birds typically begin to arrive in the UK in September and will normally have departed by April. This juvenile male was ringed at the weekend.
At this time of year our resident Blackbirds are joined by migrant ones from the continent. These birds can sometimes be identified by the fact that they have black beaks and a darker plumage than the ones from the UK.
Another migratory species that can be found in large numbers at Foxglove during the winter months is the Lesser Redpoll. These small finches feed on the birch and alder seeds around the reserve and gather in large groups below the big hopper feeders.
The bird ringers had another surprise when not one but three Sparrowhawks were caught in their mist nets too! These two are both juvenile males, perhaps from the same nest.
Much smaller than a female, the pair had brown wings and backs, with chestnut-brown edges to the feathers identifying them as this year's birds!
Sunday, October 24th 2021
In October many fungi started to appear on the reserve, after a very slow beginning to the fungi season, due to the weather conditions The species team recorded over 50 species on their walks around the reserve.
On Friday, Chris led some visitors on a walk to learn about and identify some of the fungi 'on show'.
Amanitas, Puffballs, Roundheads, Brittle Gills, Fibre Caps, Bonnets, Boletes, Ink Caps, Maze Gills, and Brackets were all found.
Individual species included Sulphur Tuft, which is often found in dense clusters on the stumps of coniferous and deciduous trees.
Blue Roundhead has a very viscid (sticky) blue/green mottled with yellow cap when fresh. When it is older its colours fade to a pale yellow.
Fly Agaric is a brightly coloured fungus that stands out in the undergrowth. It is poisonous. The white warts may be washed off by the rain and cap can then be smooth.
Conifer Mazegill grows on dead conifer wood.
Thanks to Chris for leading the walk and to Andrew and Chris for providing the photographs.
Saturday, October 23rd 2021
Looking for somewhere to go with the family at half term, why not explore and discover at Foxglove and take part in the Pumpkin Trail?
From now until the 31st October come along and enjoy the autumn colours on the red route (Easy Access Trail) and search for the pumpkin clues along the way. Test your knowledge of the creatures associated with Halloween by answering the fun quiz which is available from the visitor centre for only 50p.
No need to book, come and enjoy some fresh air with your family bubble. Don't forget your wellies and a pencil! Check your answers at the Field Centre and claim a small prize!
Thank you to the Community Champion at Tescos of Catterick Garrison for donating the pumpkins and to the Member Pioneer at the Co-op in Leyburn for giving sweets for prizes.
Check out the events page to find out what else is on over half term. Wednesday 27th October is Wildlife Activity Day; there will be lots of hands - on craft activities for all ages. Make bird feeders, mini bug hotels, seed bombs. Craft a hedgehog or spider or bee from different materials to take away too. This is a drop in session so booking is not required. Donations towards costs of materials would be appreciated on the day.
There ares till places available on the pumpkin carving sessions too - booking is essential for these!
Did you know that there are lots of local homemade gifts available to buy in the Field centre? We currently stock 3 types of local honey, many beeswax products, embroidered stockings, homemade jewellery as well as Natural History books and guides. Beat the crowds and do some Christmas shopping at the reserve!
Bakewells, Banana Cake and Brushcutting!
Thursday, October 21st 2021
A coffee morning was held this morning in Richmond Town Hall to raise vital funds for the reserve. 10 volunteers helped out on the day with serving refreshments, running a raffle and tombola, washing up and selling shop items.
A lot of work went into the event such as preparing the tombola, raffle and baking the cakes. In true Bake-off style 'Star Baker' was awarded to Richard who made several cakes including a Malaysian banana cake (using Malaysian flour)! His fruit cake served in the traditional Yorkshire way (with Wensleydale cheese) was also a big hit!
A Foxglove 'handshake' went to Charlie for his delicious Bakewell Tart!
Back at the reserve staff and volunteers made the most of the sunny weather; one of the first jobs was to move the stack of timber away from the carpark to a safe storage place. This will make the carpark available to visitors next week during half term and keep the wood dry too.
The work at the wetland hide was completed and more meadow management began. With 100 acres of mixed habitats to manage there is always something to do!
Our sincere thanks to all who have supported the reserve this week from baking cakes to strimming meadows and buying a raffle ticket, it really does make a difference!
A Busy ‘Typical’ Day?
Wednesday, October 20th 2021
People often ask what a typical day at Foxglove is like. The answer to that question is that there is never a typical day. Each season has its own rhythm and autumn is no exception. Trees are shedding their leaves and changing colour.
Identification of moths took place first thing this morning and the Sprawler was the first of its species to be caught at this time of year. It is on the wing from now until December.
As the weather was forecast calm and no rain until lunch time the nets were out to catch Redwings. Another successful morning with 17 being caught. Whilst you are out walking around keep glancing at the sky as these birds will flock across the reserve as they search for berries.
During the morning the volunteers began the preparations for the Coffee Morning at Richmond Town Hall tomorrow. Pop in for a cup of tea or coffee if you are in Richmond. You will be most welcome.
Another volunteer was checking the resources for Owl Pellet Discovery and the Pumpkin trail. More information about these events can be found on the Events page.
Yet another volunteer who is leading the fungi walk on Friday was checking to see not only what fungi was on show but where they were. Shaggy Ink Caps are a delight when fresh, but do not look so lovely as they go over and drip with a black liquid. (Once used as ink by monks.)
Grey Knight lives up to its name, at least at Foxglove, as it likes to grow amongst the grey stones of the path.
The day was rounded off sorting and cleaning the cloakroom, entering the bird ringing data, and packing cars ready for tomorrow.
A huge thank you to everyone who helped. Foxglove volunteers have such a varied range of skills to cover a multitude of tasks. Tomorrow it will be coffee morning in Richmond and habitat management back at Foxglove, unless something else crops up!
Wet and Wild!
Tuesday, October 19th 2021
Since the wetland hide was built, the vegetation around it has been growing unchecked. It had become so overgrown that the view of the wetland habitat from the viewing platform on the boardwalk that leads to the tower hide had been lost completely! The mid-week conservation volunteers have been hard at work to cut back the scrub to open up the vista once again.
Cutting back some of the brambles, gorse and willow on uneven ground was a challenge in the 'dreich' conditions.
Brushcutters and chainsaws were required for some of the dense bracken, gorse and willow. The willows were coppiced or pollarded and will grow back quickly by next summer.
Looking back from the hide towards the boardwalk was a bit like a jungle and as the area was cleared beautiful ferns and ponds were revealed.
By the end of today, the area was transformed and although the work is ongoing it has already made a good difference with the bird feeders clear to see.
Thank you to everyone who has helped with this 'larger than expected' task!
Work has also been carried out on the other side of the walkway. Beforehand, a wall of gorse was all to see through the viewing slots in the screen. Now, visitors can once again enjoy watching the wildlife on the wetland.
Peering through the fence this afternoon, Bob was spotted repairing the stand for the solar panels that power the remote camera.
Later on, he was delighted when a delivery of timber was received in preparation for boardwalk repairs on the red route! This big project will begin after half term and the work will be done in small sections in order to minimise disruption to the easy access trail.
Autumn Bird Ringing
Monday, October 18th 2021
The still and misty weather conditions this morning created the perfect opportunity to ring more Redwings as their large flocks passed through the reserve.
Other species ringed included Chiffchaff (which can still be heard singing around the Field Centre), Goldcrest, Goldfinch, Robin, Bullfinches and Reed Bunting. The one shown here is a male.
Small flocks of Long-tailed tits can be heard flitting around the tree tops and several were ringed today.
A juvenile Sparrowhawk gave everyone a surprise when it landed in a net close to a Redwing.
It was a real privilege to see this stunning bird so closely!
Sunday, October 17th 2021
Each season is different, spring is the harbringer of new birth and new life, autumn sees wildlife preparing for the long, cold, dark months of winter.
Spring sees verdant green whilst autumn sees yellow, orange and red.
The Red Oak by the Field Centre is living up to its name.
Sunday, October 17th 2021
At this time of year we have to study the weather forecasts to check on the weather. Several web sites give different conditions making life very interesting. We try to aim for a night temperature of four centigrade or above, not too windy and not too wet.
We had a good trap last weekend and found some beautiful Feathered Thorn moths. The feathered antennae show that this is a male moth. This moth can be found on the wing from mid September right through to early December. Foxglove has many of the larval food plants it requires, including oaks, Hawthorn, Blackthorn, Crab Apple and Dog Rose and not forgetting Silver and Downy Birch.
Newly hatched Green-brindled Crescent moths can have a very obvious metallic green colouring. As they age this colour can fade. Again the caterpillar of this moth feeds on Hawthorn, Blackthorn, Crab Apple and in the north Rowan.
Burdocks, Common Nettle and willowherbs are the larval food plants of the Setaceous Hebrew Character. Its ideal habitats include woodland and marshes, but is most abundant in cultivated areas.
The trap also yielded a Black Rustic moth. On checking the records there were only two sightings of this moth, the last being September 2010. The adult moth feeds at Ivy flowers and overripe Blackberries, whilst the larvae feeds on Tufted Hair-grass, Heather, Blackthorn and clovers.
Thanks to Maxwell for emptying the traps and identifying the moths.
Saturday, October 16th 2021
The mid-week conservation task of clearing scrub was made a lot easier thanks to a helping hand from a group from the Catterick garrison Personnel Recovery Centre.
This work means that the view is opened up once again from the wetland hide walkway to the pools on the wetland and will make a big difference to the visitor experience. Our sincere thanks to the 'Gorse Busters'!
Friday, October 15th 2021
Over the past week, flocks of Redwing have been observed passing over the reserve. These beautiful small thrushes migrate by night in loose flocks and their call can be heard as they pass overhead. In autumn, they gather along the Scandinavian coast at dusk before setting off on a single 500 mile flight across the North Sea to the UK.
Some redwings come from Iceland to winter in Scotland and Ireland. Others come from Russia and Scandinavia to winter in southern England and further south in Europe. This juvenile was caught and ringed this morning by reserve staff and will hopefully be the first of many!
Thursday, October 14th 2021
In order to manage some of the habitats at the reserve, livestock are brought onto the land to graze. Conservation grazing creates vegetation at different heights, and small areas of bare ground. This makes it suitable for a wide range of wildlife in different habitats. It allows wildflowers to grow, flower and set seed each year. This provides pollen and nectar for invertebrates and increases invertebrate food available for birds. Dexter cattle have been on the wetland for a couple of months and having completed their work it was time for them to return to their farm for the winter. Staff have fed them daily over the past week to get them used to coming to the gate.
Last time it took several days to catch them however, this year after only 3 attempts they were successfully loaded into the trailer.
Then it was time to catch the rare breed sheep on the heathland. A small flock of Hebridean, Shetland and Boreray.
To everyone's surprise this proved to be a more tricky challenge.
There were many attempts with the sheep all getting close to the trailer before their minds at the last minute!
With a bit of perseverance and some expert assistance from Tess the Border Collie they were finally rounded up.
Tuesday, October 12th 2021
Autumn is the time when all of the glades and meadows at the reserve are cut. One area close to Spigot Mere that is of international importance in terms of biodiversity is cut annually. Each year this small meadow is expanded a little bit more which means that the work involved also increases! The cuttings are raked up and removed to reduce the fertility of the soil as wildflowers grow best when nutrient levels are low.
The work that was started on the Autumn worky day is now complete and the banks of the mere are free of Gorse too (for now)!
It has been a huge team effort and our thanks go to all of the staff and volunteers who have made it possible.
The Dexter cattle on loan from Big Sheep Little Cow have played an important role in the management of both the wetland and the wildflower meadow. They have been trimming the edges of the main meadow where the tractor couldn't reach and 'poaching' the edges of the pools.
Soon they will be heading back to the popular farm attraction in Bedale to spend the winter months. The friendly trio will be missed. They have behaved well so far with just one mysterious visit to Spigot Mere on the other side of the fence!
Half Term Plans
Monday, October 11th 2021
Due to popular demand the Halloween pumpkin trail will be back for the October half term!
Nothing too scarey, just find the pumpkins along the red route (pushchair and wheelchair friendly)!
Test your knowledge of the creatures associated with Halloween by answering the fun quiz which is available from the visitor centre for only 50p.
Thank you to Nicola for preparing this self guided trail in advance.
On Wednesday 27th October it will be Wildlife Activity Day. Come and celebrate British Wildlife on this family fun day. There will be lots of hands - on craft activities for all ages; make bird feeders, beeswax candles, mini bug hotels and seed bombs. Craft a hedgehog or spider or bee from different materials to take away too. This is a drop in session so booking is not required. Donations towards costs of materials would be appreciated on the day. Further details can be found on the events page.
Autumn Worky Day
Sunday, October 3rd 2021
Saturday marked the first weekend 'Worky Day' of the Autumn. 20 volunteers braved the wet and windy weather to help improve one of the most important habitats on the reserve.
Preparations for the day began last week when staff and volunteers brushcut an area next to Spigot Mere. This patch of the reserve was recently declared by an Ecologist as a habitat of international importance in terms of biodiversity due to the rare combination of Purple Moor Grass and wildflowers. It is managed like a hay meadow but is inaccessible to tractors and machinery so is very labour intensive to manage.
The cuttings were left for a few days to give the wildflower seeds a chance to spread but then had to be raked up and removed. This will prevent too much goodness from going back into the ground as wildflowers prefer a nutrient poor soil. The cuttings were raked into rows and piles by the band of dedicated volunteers.
It was a huge task but as the saying goes many hands make light work!
In some places the long vetetation had made an exceptionally deep layer which was difficult to rake.
Grasses were heaped into large sacks to be dragged away from the meadow.
There was a great deal of team work and determination!
Young Gorse from the banks of the mere was also cut back and burned on a bonfire.
From a distance it looked as though a steam train was going accross the moor!
In the traditional Foxglove way, a delicious hot meal was provided as a thank you. This time a warming curry served with a smile!
The group headed out again afterwards in the worsening rain to finish the task in hand.
As always, a huge thank you to everyone who gave up their Saturday to lend a hand. If you are interested in joining in on one of our 'Winter Worky Days' details are on the events page. Please note that booking in advance is essential to help with catering.
QAVS Award on Display
Friday, October 1st 2021
Yesterday, Graham from Victoria Prints presented us with a beautiful bespoke display cabinet. This will house both the certificate signed by HRH the Queen and the Crystal dome that were awarded to the volunteers of Foxglove for the Queen's Award for Voluntary Service.
Our thanks go to the staff of Victoria Prints and we look forward to welcoming them for a guided tour of the reserve in the near future.