Blog Archive (12) Posts Made in January 2022
Malik and Corrie
Monday, January 31st 2022
Last weekend saw not one but two more named storms which have both caused more damage to the Foxglove forests. Once again the reserve was hit by gale force winds. This was especially upsetting to discover as staff and volunteers are still clearing up after the devastation caused by storm Arwen!
A site walk was carried out today by the Reserve Managers to identify the newly fallen trees and a new plan of work was drawn up! Priority will be given to any trees that have fallen over pathways or are close to the trails like the one shown here which is on the Green Trail.
Whilst out assessing the damage, this fungi was found on the woodland walk. King Alfred’s cakes resemble lumps of coal stuck to the surface of decaying wood. The older they get, the darker they become. They don’t rot away quickly but can remain on deadwood for years.
According to the Woodland Trust, King Alfred lived in the 9th century when parts of Britain had been overrun by Vikings. Trying to escape them, he took refuge in the home of a peasant woman who asked him to watch over her cakes, baking by the fire. He let them burn and was scolded by the woman for his negligence. It is said that embarrassed and ashamed, he scattered the cakes to get rid of the evidence. As the fungus looks like small, burnt cakes, especially as they get older, the name King Alfred’s cakes went into common use.
Forest School Fun
Monday, January 31st 2022
On Friday, the learners at Forest School helped out at the reserve by clearing away some of the debris left behind by storm Arwen. They made good use of some of the fallen trees by creating board games from pieces of the wood. First, they created the board with marker pens on thin slices of tree trunks.
Next, counters were cut from Hazel stems (left over from the recent coppice work).
At the end, each family had a set of 'noughts and crosses' to take home with them.
There was a lot of perserverance lighting a bonfire using flint and steel. The brash burned quickly and the heat was just enough for a bit of cooking. It was a lot of fun making popcorn with the tried and tested 'popcorn machine' which hadn't been used for a couple of years! Once dusted off, it worked a treat!
If you fancy having a go at some of these activities why not book onto our half term Forest School event?
Wednesday, January 26th 2022
One of the wetland areas had become extremely overgrown so lately work has focused on cutting back the vegetation around some of the ponds.
Whenever strimming takes place there is always a great deal of raking up to do too!
Some of the channels that link ponds together needed a bit of TLC to open them up again. This work is important to keep the dams and pipes accessible.
Invasive pondweed was also moved away from the pond dipping platforms so that the school children will be able to see what lurks beneath the surface when they visit in the spring and summer months.
Closer to the Field Centre, carparking places were enhanced and extra spaces were created without eating into precious habitat.
This involved the use of a tractor for moving soil and stone.
Surfaces were then compacted using a whacker plate!
Work has also continued on the boardwalk on the red route which is looking fantastic!
Thank you to all of the volunteers who have carried out these varied tasks to improve both the habitats and the visitor experience.
Preventing The Spread of Bird Flu
Sunday, January 23rd 2022
There have been several local outbreaks of Bird Flu (Avian Influenza). It is spread by direct contact between birds, and through contamination in the environment. The virus can survive for up to a month on the ground in a bird dropping! As a precaution, bird ringing activities have been temporarily suspended at the reserve.
There have been no cases at Foxglove so far but to help prevent this virus from spreading we have introduced some biosecurity and safety measures. Please disinfect your footwear on arrival and on departure using the special orange mats provided; there is one outside the Field Centre and one at the Information Shelter.
If you find any dead waterfowl (swans, ducks or geese) or other dead birds such as gulls or birds of prey, you should not touch them.
Please report them to the Reserve Managers on 07754 270980.
Thank You and Congratulations!
Saturday, January 22nd 2022
As part of a training course, a group from the Personnel Recovery Centre (PRC) in Catterick Garrison carried out a day of volunteering at the reserve last week. They made a significant contribution by clearing an area of brash from trees damaged by Storm Arwen.
The team was led by Warrant Officer Class Two Roger Coates (second from the left) who is part of the Battle Back team at the PRC who delivers training to troops who are injured, sick or wounded. On behalf of everyone at Foxglove heartfelt congratulations go to Roger who has been a valued volunteer at the reserve for several years as he is amongst those recognised in the Queen's New Year Honours. Well done Roger, what an incredible and well deserved achievement!
Friday, January 21st 2022
At last, one of the winter tasks can be ticked off the list as a section of Hazel has finally been coppiced! This has been a big operation and involved several days of hard graft which were rudely interrupted by Storm Arwen! Most of the work has been carried out by the regular team of mid-week volunteers who have put in many hours and in all kinds of weather conditions.
As the Hazel hadn't been cut for many years, the thick stools were cut with a chainsaw. The stems then had to be carried down the steep bank. They were either woven into a dead hedge (which looks fantastic) or put through the woodchipper. Some were used for Forest School activities and others were cut into pieces to be used for the Wildlife Craft Day at half term.
The dry weather combined with the recent hard frosts made ideal conditions for the finishing touches as the ground was firm enough to cope with heavy machinery such as quad bikes and woodchippers.
A group from the Personalised Learning Centre (PLC) in Northallerton lent a hand by sorting the stems into different piles ahead of the woodchipping days.
They also helped by raking out the piles of chippings so that the layer is thin enough for the spring wildflowers to push through in a few weeks time. Primroses, Wood Anemones and Bluebells will all benefit from the additional light reaching the ground.
Thank you to everyone who has been involved with this winter's Hazel coppicing; the finished area will be beautiful in the spring so make sure you visit again then to see the results of your efforts!
Hazel, a Hedge and more High Vis!
Monday, January 17th 2022
Last week, work began again on the Hazel coppice along Risedale Beck. The brash from this task has been woven into an existing dead hedge to give new life to this traditional feature!
The construction involves a lot of teamwork; preparing the branches and passing them from where they were cut to where they are needed.
To build the hedge it is necessary to work from both sides but as the structure gets taller and taller this is in itself quite a challenge!
It isn't completed but is already looking really good.
There was more 'high vis' clothing on site today as staff from Landmark came to repair the access road. The main route in to the reserve was full of potholes after all of the recent rain, snow and ice.
Our sincere thanks to the team who have made the journey in a lot smoother for staff and vistors!
Saturday, January 15th 2022
During the winter months the moth trap is not set unless there have been some mild days and nights. A few weeks ago, after a couple of mild nights, we decided to see what we could catch. A single unidentified fly was the only occupant.
On Tuesday the Field Centre was checked and a Mottled Umber was found comfortably sitting on the back of a bench. These moths vary in their wing pattern. This moth will be on the wing from October through to the end of January.
Further investigation found several Early Moths. The flight season for these moths is January through to March. You can just see a feathered antenna showing that this is a male moth.
Many Happy Returns!
Tuesday, January 11th 2022
There is always a good reason for sharing a cake at Foxglove and this week it is well justified by not one, not two but three birthdays in the team! Happy Birthday to Hayley, Ian (the big 50) and Elizabeth!
Visitors may have noticed a bit of a trend going on this winter as staff have been wearing 'high vis' clothing! Not great for fieldcraft but very safe whilst working around forestry equipment and machinery!
Finally, congratulations to Hayley who is the new T-permit representative on the BTO (British Trust for Ornithology) Ringing Committee. Well done and we wish you luck in this exciting 3 year role.
Winter Scenes at Foxglove
Monday, January 10th 2022
Andrew chose a snowy day to walk around with his camera. His path took him through the Scrapes. Blue sky enhanced the yellow/cream of the reeds and the white of the snow.
A few steps further along the path and the vista changes.
Looking back the footsteps are clear to see in the snow. Although there is ice on the surface the creatures that live here will be in hibernation in the silt at the bottom of the ponds.
At the end of the Scrapes is the Hazel Avenue. The canopy, even though devoid of leaves, has prevented as much snow getting through to the ground to lie. It will not be long before the Hazel trees begin to open their catkins that have been growing since the autumn, to release the pollen. Very soon after the tiny red female flowers will open. By autumn these will have developed into Hazel nuts and the after a few weeks the catkins begin to show themselves and so the circle of life continues.
Further along the avenue the becks run through steep sided valleys. This is where we begin to look for Opposite-leaved Golden Saxifrage from January, being very hopeful, but realistically from February onwards. This plant covers the vertical sides along the becks.
Meanwhile down at the lake one Mallard was walking sedately and carefully across the frozen lake.
Others decided to take flight from the water to the ice.
No matter what the season or weather there is always something to see on walks through the reserve. Thank you to Andrew for these photographs.
Sunday, January 9th 2022
Snow and ice didn't stop a keen group of volunteers from turning out for the January Winter Worky Day. The weather wasn't quite as bad as the forecast had predicted however, it was very cold and wet.
Work continued on clearing some of the storm damage caused by storm Arwen at the end of last year. First, a few dangerous trees were felled to make the area safe. These were then snedded (stripped of branches) by chainsaw.
Away from the chainsaws, debris caused by the gale force winds was gathered up. If it was left on the forest floor it would become a serious fire hazard in the summer months.
The brash was burned on a controlled bonfire. Although this is not ideal for the environment, it is a much better alternative to a huge uncontrolled forest fire! It also helped to keep everyone warm!
At lunchtime, a delicious curry was served up with style in the workshop by Lord Dorrington himself!
Instead of all sitting together in the cabin as was the case before the pandemic, people spread themselves about in the indoor spaces available. What better place to enjoy a meal than in the rake rack?
By the end of the day, a huge amount of work had been completed and although there remains a lot more to be done, it is now possible to see the timber that needs to be dealt with next.
As always, our sincere thanks to the staff and volunteers who gave up their Saturday to help with this gigantic task, it is very much appreciated.
Back to Work
Tuesday, January 4th 2022
The long holiday weekends are over and the Foxglove volunteers were back at work. There was more work to be done in the plantation. Some of the smaller trunks could be removed with not too much difficulty.
Whereas some of the larger ones needed to be winched.
The sun was setting through the trees as a saw was used to tidy up some of the smaller trunks and stumps that were left.
Bird feeders and hoppers were filled across the reserve to help the birds cope with this cold snap.
Mallard on the partially frozen lake were not left out and they received brunch!
Many thanks to the volunteers who helped today in the cold snowy conditions.