Blog Archive (12) Posts Made in December 2021
Happy New Year!
Friday, December 31st 2021
Foxglove Covert LNR is a registered charity and like many other charities and organisations has had an extremely tough year. 2021 has been a real 'roller coaster' for the reserve. However, after a tough start there was good news when in the Spring it was announced that the Volunteer group had been awarded with the Queen's Award for Voluntary Service (QAVS).
This is the highest award a voluntary group can receive in the UK and is often described as the MBE for voluntary groups! Created in 2002 to celebrate The Queen's Golden Jubilee it recognises outstanding work by volunteer groups to benefit their local communities. Volunteers are the backbone of the reserve and even through the pandemic have continued to support the valuable conservation work in so many different ways. Thank you to everyone who has contributed during 2021 in whatever capacity, you have helped this special place for wildlife and people to thrive through hard times.
A reminder that the reserve will be closed tomorrow (New Year's Day) but will re-open on Sunday. Opening times are as follows:
Weekends and Bank Holidays: 10am-4pm
Edward the Elf is still loitering around the Red Route and will be staying out for you to find until the 4th January. If you look carefully you can see that he is proudly wearing his QAVS badge!
Stay safe and we look forward to seeing you in 2022!
All Kinds of Weather
Sunday, December 26th 2021
We often speak of the weather in relation to the volunteers working, but different weather does provide opportunities for photography. The right kind of rain can form water droplets along branches.
Frost highlights living leaves against the fallen vegetation. Each prickle on this thistle leaf has been coated by frost.
Logs covered by frost, glisten when the sun shines over them.
A still day with late winter sun allows for reflections in the ponds.
Moisture and rain allow lichens to stand out and show their different form and structure as they cover the branches of the trees.
Thank you to Andrew and Jan for these photographs, taken on a recent visit to Foxglove where they managed to get a variety of weather all on one day!
Last Volunteer Day 2021
Friday, December 24th 2021
Volunteers volunteered on Thursday even though the weather was dreich. A break in the rain saw them venture out from under the dripping trees to fill the feeders and hoppers around the reserve.
In amongst the instructions and directions the Mallards came out very well as they were fed twice!
Another Ash tree was found, a result of Storm Arwen, and Ian kindly cut it up so, as Gerry put it, 'thank you Ian for cutting them to sizes us mere mortals can carry!' They still look pretty big to me!
Of course once the tree was sorted, there was yet more clearing up - it is never ending!
Thank you to the volunteers who helped. Every task ensures that the reserve will be ready for the spring growth.
Lesley (Chair of the MG) on behalf of Foxglove Covert's Management Group would like to take this opportunity to wish Sophie and Gerry, our reserve managers, part-time employees, friends, volunteers and supporters a very Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year.
They send a huge thank you to everyone for your continued support, dedication and friendship throughout 2021.
Wednesday, December 22nd 2021
On Monday Barry Wright came to Foxglove to collect some Pillwort so that Genome sequencing could be carried out. He collected a small amount from Plover's Pool.
Pillwort is a rare fern that grows in water. It is classed as Vulnerable - Near threatened by Plantlife. (More details about the fern and the Freshwater habits Trust can be found here https://freshwaterhabitats.org.uk/pond-clinic/identifying-freshwater-plants/pillwort-pilularia-globulifera/ )
We have several areas where it is thriving. It prefers edges of ponds and grows bright green and looks like a grass lawn.
However on closer inspection you can find the typical Crozier fern frond shape.
So far it has co-operated in being grown at home, on a window sill in a seed tray, with lots of water. It does not like to be in an enclosed space and once it has filled the seed tray it needs to be re-potted. Window sill space soon fills up.
Unlike other ferns it does not produce spores on its fronds but produces 'pills' along the length of the rhizome (a horizontal underground stem). These then produce the spores from which new plants arise.
Our Pillwort habitats are carefully managed to promote healthy colonies.
Volunteers at Work
Tuesday, December 21st 2021
Volunteers were hard at work in several places around the reserve today.
The first area was at the head of the plantation where Storm Arwen caused so much damage. The brash needs to be cleared so as not to cause a fire risk during the summer months.
Emma's Santa hat was getting smokey, as more brash was burnt.
There were more large branches to be attended to on the flower bank down from the wetland. Primroses, Wood Anemone, Bluebells and some Early Purple Orchids grow on this bank so it was important to remove the fallen timber to allow these flowers to bloom.
Thank you to all the volunteers who worked hard today to get so much work completed.
Winter Work Continues
Monday, December 20th 2021
There is always plenty of work to be carried out during the winter. Foxglove volunteers turn out in all weathers to help. On sunny days there is time to stop and take in the view. The Mallards are fed daily and know where to come and find their treats. This photo makes me wonder where the land stops and the lake starts.
What started as a small job, clearing some of the vegetation around the boardwalk so that Bob could continue his repairs
ended up clearing thick undergrowth from the edge of the lake to allow visitors to view the lake and the tree in the lake.
This area was last cleared in August 2016, when Tony Robinson came to film the tree being put into the lake. https://www.foxglovecovert.org.uk/blog/filming-at-foxglove Volunteers had worked hard to ensure that the area was safe for film crew and volunteers, as the tree was felled and pulled into the lake.
As with many things at Foxglove tasks take on a mind of their own and grow 'like Topsy'. Once this area was cleared the volunteers moved further along to open up another view of the lake.
The larger branches were moved with the help of a powerbarrow. This saved carrying them or using the wheelbarrow.
Brash was burnt.
Several days were spent working here. Many thanks to everyone who helped. Edward the Elf may be down there looking at the lake?
During the work an autumnal Silver Birch leaf was spotted and to it a tiny fungus growing. More time to stop and wonder.
Edward the Elf Returns!
Sunday, December 19th 2021
Looking for something to do in the school holidays to get everyone outdoors? Do you need some 'screen free' fresh air and family fun? Look no further!
Have a go at the Foxglove Christmas Elf Trail; a self guided treasure hunt around the Red Route (pushchair and wheelchair friendly) to look for natural clues. Help Edward the Elf to discover some festive treasures and learn some fun facts along the way.
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 way around then please take his photo and upload it to our Facebook page, he will be moving about throughout the holidays!
Sunshine and Blue Skies
Saturday, December 18th 2021
Winter sets more challenges to finding something different for the blog. There are few photo worthy flowers, no bugs and beasties and even the fungi are 'going over'. Heavy clouds, rain, mist and fog do not encourage nice vistas. So when the sun shines and there are blue skies, opportunities must be taken to try to gain some lovely winter views.
The walk up to the middle moor gate has changed over the years, from a dark conifer block to a felled area. This was then replanted with a mixture of deciduous and conifer trees which have now grown into an open wooded area. As the summer sun warms the path, so the butterflies, bees, 'dragons and damsels' sunbathe and feed. In winter the leafless trees stand out against the blue sky and birds can be seen flitting amongst the branches searching for food.
The ancient hedgerows across the middle moor cast long shadows.
Leaving the moor near Plover's Pool the path wanders through a dark conifer plantation. Trunks of these trees were caught in the sunshine.
In the Scrapes the reeds were glinting as the sun caught them standing out against the blue sky.
Pink flower heads of Hemp Agrimony feed many butterflies and bees in the late summer. Now only the seed heads are left.
More Clearing Up
Tuesday, December 7th 2021
Storm Arwen left a great deal of damage across the reserve. The trees in the plantation are now safe. The amount of clearing up will take a considerable time. Getting to this area, probably the furthest point from the Field Centre, is not easy and the terrain is rough. Many thanks to the staff and volunteers who have already made a start to this work.
The Hazel Bank along Risedale Beck is in the process of being coppiced. This invloves either cutting the Hazel trees to ground level or choosing certain stems to be removed whilst leaving others to grow, as can be seen below. Coppicing encourages new growth and helps the trees to remain strong and healthy. This opens up the canopy for the spring flowers to develop. There is pressure to get the work in this area completed before Primrose, Wild Garlic and Bluebell leaves start to show themselves. It also creates new habitats with shady glades suitable for butterflies and insects to sunbathe.
Work was going well but added to the clearing up is a fallen Ash tree. Larger logs and brash have to be removed off the bank.
Weather conditions were not ideal as Storm Barra was approaching. The slope is steep and rather muddy!
Outside work finished early. Many thanks to everyone who worked today. Not the best of days for a green gym outing.
December Winter Worky Day
Sunday, December 5th 2021
Fortunately, there was plenty of help on hand on Saturday to help clear away some of the damage left behind by last weekend's storm. The planned Hazel coppicing was put on hold!
At the start of the day many sections of the green trail were blocked with fallen trees. These had been cut up into manageable pieces by staff earlier in the week.
As the top of the woodland is inaccessable (even horse loggers would struggle to travel the steep half a mile in and out of here) the large pieces of timber were stacked into habitat piles.
Brash was burned on a controlled bonfire to reduce the risk of a huge forest fire in the future.
Much of this had to be processed into smaller pieces to help keep the fire 'footprint' as small as possible.
Hay rakes came in handy to scrape up the smaller pieces of debris.
By coffee time most of the work in this area was completed. To save time walking back to the centre instant hot drinks and biscuits were served from a wheelbarrow; a well earned break indeed.
Everyone worked really hard to make the woodland safe and tidy again.
With all that fresh air and exercise what better way to spend a Saturday morning! Much better than Christmas shopping!
A hearty lunch of chilli con carne was served up with a smile in the 'workshop cafe' whilst chainsaw blades were resharpened all under the same roof!
After lunch, the group split into smaller teams and while some carried on dealing with fallen trees, others helped our feathered friends in this cold snap by filling the bird feeders.
Our heartfelt thanks to all who gave up one of their precious weekend days to help out, it is as always hugely appreciated. If you would like to join in on the next Winter Worky Day, see the events page for details. Please note that advance booking is essential for catering purposes.
Friday, December 3rd 2021
The really big conifers that were hit by the storm were a tangled mess of trunks, branches and root plates, it was a job beyond the capability of the reserve staff and required a specialist Tree Surgeon. Sean and Brendan from Yorkshire Tree Specialists were in for a surprise when they arrived on site first thing this morning!
As you can see, some of the root plates were huge.
The first task was to assess the danger and work out in which order to tackle the trees.
It was an interesting challenge and exciting to watch (from a safe distance)! To see a video of the biggest root plate going back into place head to our Facebook page.
By the end of the day all of the trees were down on the ground which makes the area a safer one to be in. There is still a gigantic job ahead to tidy up the mess but now there is no rush.
Elsewhere, volunteers were busy catching up with other projects such as building a Hazel hedge, gardening in the Field centre garden and replacing old boardwalk (another colossal job).
In other news, Hayley, an Ecology student who has just finished a 7 week work placement at Foxglove was seen heading out to the woodland with a can of dog food and a camera trap, watch this space for the results!
Thank you to everyone who has helped out this week it has been extremely hard work but we are making good progress!
Tidying Up After Storm Arwen
Friday, December 3rd 2021
The damage caused by the storm on Saturday is worse than first thought; in total over 50 trees have been lost and the clean up operation is a mammoth task. Most of the trees that were pushed over by the gale force winds are conifers due to their shallow root systems. They have mainly been Larch and Sitka Spruce.
To clear up, the brash is removed from the trunks (a process known as 'snedding'), the larger pieces of timber are then cut into sections that are light enough to be carried to a pile. This involves a lot of work dragging, lifting and carrying; a great green gym workout! As the woodland is inaccessible by vehicle the timber cannot be extracted easily.
Staff and volunteers are working their way around the reserve gradually opening up the footpaths again. If the large volume of debris was left on the forest floor it would become a serious fire hazard in the summer months so it is burned on small controlled bonfires. Although this isn't ideal it is better than having an uncontrolled forest fire in the future.
It has been a case of 'all hands to the deck' with staff and volunteers working extra hours and additional help from visiting groups. A special thank you to the team from the Personalised Learning Centre who assisted with some of the work in the plantation.
Finally, some good news: their group leader, Trish, has been bringing groups to the reserve for over 13 years and was thanked by the Reserve Managers who presented her with a QAVS (Queen's Award for Voluntary Service) badge.
Well done Trish and here's to the next 13!