Blog Archive (8) Posts Made in February 2022
Sunday, February 27th 2022
Last week, Colonel Billings (Comd DTE UK) pictured here with Colonel Holden (Comd DTE North) visited Foxglove to discover more about the reserve and how it links in to the local community. The short visit was well timed with a welcome sunny spell between wintry showers; blue sky and a dusting of snow created a perfect photo opportunity.
Foxglove Covert is the only designated Local Nature Reserve on MOD land and has always benefitted from financial support from the Defence Training Estate. Not only does the Army help to fund the warden's salaries, it also assists with a vital forestry project each year. This year, the funding is being spent on making the Ash trees that are suffering from Ash Dieback safe. This type of arboriculture is highly dangerous and requires the skills of professionals. If you look closely at the picture here you should beable to make out the Tree Surgeon high up in the canopy.
Where possible, the trees are 'monolithed' which involves removing the largest limbs and leaving the main trunk standing. This is especially beneficial to the wildlife as many species of invertebrates, birds and bats can all live in the remaining wood. Although the trees appear to be healthy from the outside, you can see from the photograph below that they are completely rotten on the inside.
The Greenworks fund has also been spent on removing other 'dead, dying, diseased or dangerous' trees around the reserve. This is the motto of Tree Surgeon Sean Stockdale who has carried out the work!
Storm Arwen caused a huge amount of damage as the wind came from an unusual direction. However, the good news is that because of all of the forward planning and effort to make the biggest Ash trees safe over the past two winters, the other named storms have not caused a lot of damage which goes to show how valuable this generous support is.
Back To Work!
Sunday, February 27th 2022
Recent storms forced the reserve to be closed for a few days whilst the damage was assessed and the trails were made safe again. Last week, volunteers returned and although it was too windy to work in the top of the plantation other areas of the site received some much needed TLC!
Logs from forestry work were used to create better defined parking areas close to the Field Centre and stretches of old boardwalk were replaced with new timber.
Along the Yellow Trail, storm damage was cleared away and small Ash trees with Ash Dieback were felled.
As expected, a huge amount of brash was created!
By the end of the week, this area was all tidy and all that remains is a heap of logs and a pile of woodchips, the latter will be used to top up a nearby woodland path.
The work is by no means finished and other piles of brash are lined up ready for the 'woodchippers' next week!
A great deal has been achieved so far and all of the trails are now open to the public once more. However, a polite reminder to all visitors to please stay on the designated trails (Red, Yellow and Green).
Our sincere thanks to everyone who has helped out with this work.
We Are Open!
Tuesday, February 22nd 2022
The good news is that we are open again to the public and volunteering has begun again. However, the weather is still quite wild with gales forecast every day so the Green trail remains closed. Work is being carried out on the wheelchair friendly route so that is partly closed too. The Field Centre and hides are all open. Please check with staff on arrival if you are unsure of which trails are open.
Saturday, February 19th 2022
Foxglove is still closed! Although the weather has been awful this time we were lucky as storms Dennis and Eunice didn't hit the reserve too badly. There have been strong winds and heavy rain with snow at times but so far the trees have stood strong. However, with continuing gales and in order to keep everyone safe we have decided to remain shut to the public for now.
There is still a great deal of work necessary to clear away the debris caused by Arwen, Corrie and Malik! Up until Thursday volunteers helped by carrying out many varied tasks from cleaning bird feeders, clearing storm damage, analysing moth data and replacing boardwalk.
Nicola was even spotted using a drill to prepare wooden discs for a future wildlife craft activity!
Students from Mowbray School visited every day in the fortnight leading up to the bad weather and two groups from the Personnel Recovery Centre also came to lend a hand. Our sincere thanks to everybody who has contributed in some way over the past few difficult weeks.
We hope to re-open early next week and apologise for any inconvenience! If you intend to visit during half term please phone ahead to check that the reserve is open first.
Wednesday, February 16th 2022
Due to severe high winds caused by storm Dudley, it is with regret that the reserve will be closed on Thursday 17th and Friday 18th February.
We will re-open as soon as any storm damage has been assessed and the trails have been made safe. We apologise for any inconvenience.
Large, Little and In Between
Saturday, February 12th 2022
You never know quite what you are going to see as you walk around the reserve. Stopping to look and listen, something did not quite look right! On closer inspection it was Roe Deer doe (the bucks are in velvet, growing their antlers) just stopping to look and listen. We looked at each other whilst I was taking some photographs. As nearly always, the vegetation was in the way! She decided that I had had long enough to take a decent photograph and jumped quietly away out of sight.
Checking for Hazel flowers, something red caught my eye, not the female flower but a hibernating 7 Spot Ladybird tucked into a dead Hazel leaf.
In between this large mammal and small beetle came the Mallards. There are around 40 of them on the lake.
They were resting and preening on the ice and bathing in the shallow water covering the ice layer. Most of the birds are paired and the females will soon move away from the lake to find suitable places to build a nest. The males take no part in duckling raising.
A late addition to the blog. Andrew photographed this Mallard dabbling!
Tuesday, February 8th 2022
I sometimes wonder what we would do if we did not have 'The Weather' to discuss. Foxglove showed that it was not immune to the weather yesterday. Early morning saw ice and it was bitterly cold. Later in the day the temperature rose, the ice melted, the wind rose and it was still bitterly cold. However there were opportunities for photography.
Not a heavy snowfall but enough to dust the orchard.
Spigot Mere had a covering of ice in places.
Although the moor is not the warmest place on the reserve, birds have visited Spigot Mere and left behind some of their feathers.
Small puddles of water had coverings of ice.
Blue skies competed with dark threatening clouds. Scots Pines along the moor edge do an excellent job protecting the centre of the reserve from the wind.
In the restored ancient hedgeline Hazel trees are flowering. The male catkins are open to release their pollen
and the tiny red female flowers are appearing. It is amazing that this tiny flower develops into a Hazel nut enjoyed by squirrels and Jays.
A Wild Worky Day!
Sunday, February 6th 2022
There was a fantastic turnout for Saturday's Winter Worky Day however, the wild, wintery weather meant an early finish! Volunteers helped with forestry tasks, filling bird feeders and tree planting before gale force winds stopped play! By late moring, the heavy gusts made the conditions unsafe and everyone returned to the centre for refreshments. As well as hot drinks there was the usual 'Worky Day Curry' and plenty of cakes and biscuits!
One team spent the morning planting Small-leaved Lime trees to fill in the gaps along an avenue of Sycamore and Maple. These Lime trees are native to the UK and in summer have sweet-smelling summer flowers which are a valuable source of nectar for a huge number of insects. Their leaves are the foodplant of the Lime hawk moth caterpillar too. Our sincere thanks to Peter and Ann for kindly donating the saplings which were purchased from the Woodland Trust.
Last but not least, huge thanks go to Lesley who has just stepped down from her two year role as Chairperson of the Foxglove Covert LNR Mangement Group. Lesley is one of the longest standing volunteers and a bird ringer who is involved with practical conservation tasks too and as you can see from the picture above is still very much involved!