Blog Archive (13) Posts Made in July 2023
Sunday, July 30th 2023
It may not feel like summer, but flora and fauna are getting on with what they do best. Betony begins to flower in early summer and can soon be seen across the reserve. It is a food source for many insects. Andrew took this photograph - thank you.
Fleabane covers the Scrapes but the yellow daisy-like heads can be seen in other places. In late summer they are an excellent food source for butterflies.
Volunteers hate them. Small rodents, Roe deer and some insects love the fruits. Yes I am talking about Blackberries. They are in flower now and usually bees are flitting from one flower to the next.
Walking around, movement in the vegetation often leads to a discovery of a 'something'. Sometimes just standing and looking around allows you to see 'something'. It was two grasshoppers sitting on the boardwalk sunning themsleves.
Using binoculars to look, gives you a whole different experience, concentrating on the distance and not what is in front of you. It also can lead to getting a fright! Whilst generally looking to see what was around a loud noise frightened me - a low helicopter? No it was a dragonfly hawking for insects with its wings making a very loud mechanical noise. I was thoroughly checked out but I think it decided I was too big to eat! There again it did come back for a second look. Damselflies are much quieter and they even sometimes sit still as did this Blue-tailed Damselfly.
Friday, July 28th 2023
The work at Foxglove changes with the seasons and the weather. During the summer it can include smaller maintenance type jobs. Well the job that the 'DreamTeam' took on did not sound big - remove the vegetation off the bridge. Easy, that was until they started and found that the vegetation had other ideas! What started as a small job entailed a lot of hard work. Thanks for doing this very important task. The bridge is now pristine.
We have some very rare Black Poplar trees on the reserve, at the head of the lake. They were planted in February 2012. (Apologies for the size of the photo but techneology has moved on since then!) https://www.foxglovecovert.org.uk/blog/varied-work
These trees are now 11 years old. This photo shows one of them on the left. It has grown just a little!
Relatively easy to identify when in leaf, much harder in winter, especially amongst other trees. We decided that they needed to be labelled so no accidental felling could take place. Brian was cutting out the labels that will be carefully placed on the trees, ensuring no damage to the trees in the future.
Another job involved putting together the kit for cutting larger pieces of wood.
Jan has been sorting the sales table and adding some Christmas jewellry. Yes early for Christmas but never too soon to begin to look for pressies! Other tasks carried out included trimming overhead branches along the access route, strimming the edges of ever growing path edges, identifying the moths and recording species seen.
A huge thank you to staff and volunteers for keeping the reserve looking so good, in a season where everything is growing exceptionally well.
Sunday, July 23rd 2023
Ladybirds can prove difficult to find but this 7 spot Ladybird was quite obvious.
This Small Skipper on Red Clover also stood out. The tiny weevil hiding underneath the sepals did not!
Another clover that is in full flower is the vibrantly coloured Zigzag Clover. Foxglove is home to White, Red and Zigzag, giving bees and other insects with various lengths of proboscis different opprtunities to feed.
Our moth traps continue to be put out, where, depends very much on the weather. The portable trap was placed in the outdoor classroom and we caught three beautiful Drinker Moths. These moths fly during July and August. The larval plants include many grasses, reeds and sedges.
Friday, July 21st 2023
Water Figwort grows at Foxglove and in places around the reserve it is very common. Not a spectacular flower by any means. It is a reason not to kill wasps as they carry out pollination of this flower. I have walked around Foxglove for many years and have rarely seen a wasp near the flower and on the odd occasion that I have managed a photograph, splodge would be being generous! That all changed this week when a wasp sat relatively patiently on the Water Figwort. It did not go anywhere near the single open flower left on the head, but a wasp on Water Figwort and a reasonable photograph was very pleasing! It did decide to clean its antennae.
When taking photographs I tend to concentrate on what I am taking and it is only when they are enlarged on the screen that I realise that there is something else there. A Pond Skater instar (not an adult yet) was sitting still on a leaf, too good an opportunity to miss, as they normally skate around very quickly. The reason it was sitting still, was that it had a fly all to itself. These insects are voracious feeders and will fight over their prey.
Another insect feeding was a damselfly.
One insect that was not feeding, but sunning itself on the boardwalk was a grasshopper. There are many of them across the reserve.
A Good Growing Season
Thursday, July 20th 2023
The weather has been variable, to say the least, more or less all year! A very cold spring, a dry June and now a 'sunshine and showers' along with strong winds July. Vegetation at Foxglove has grown and grown! It can be trimmed, strimmed, brush cut, secateured and even loppered one day and appears to grow again by the next! Today staff and volunteers were out bringing a little order to the growth.
Bracken has grown tall and to reduce its vigour it needs to be slashed. Jules and Hayley were returning from carrying out this work around the Stone Circle. John was with them when he spotted some more, then more and even more!
Peter and Brian were strimming the edges of paths to make life easier for people walking along them, but carefully leaving the flowers.
Once the path was strimmed, Jules and Hayley got to work cutting back overhanging branches from the ancient hedgeline.
A group from North Yorks Council came and volunteered this morning, cutting back the branches from the access road. Kate and Becky identified the moths.
Huge thanks to everyone involved today. Every piece of work is really appreciated. Thank you.
Weekend opening hours Sat 22 & Sun 23 July 2023
Thursday, July 20th 2023
The reserve and field centre will be open from 10.00am to 4.00pm this Saturday, 22nd July. However, the Royal Lancers are using the parade ground on Sunday 23rd July as part of their Regimental Weekend so the reserve will be closed for the day. Apologies for any disappointment.
Enjoy your next visit and we hope to see you soon!
Saturday, July 15th 2023
The Species Team at Foxglove collect information about the many and varied species that live in all the different habitats. Sometimes it is such a joy to find that the Daisy is in flower where you would expect it to be, even in the middle of winter. Common Spotted Orchids are literally popping up everywhere and thanks to our strimming volunteers they do not get strimmed.
Our moth list contains over 300 moths and at times we think we are unliklley to get any more to add to it, but amazingly we caught one called Least Carpet. This was photographed in its pot as the identification book indicates that it does not live this far north, although it does say that it was expanding its range to Yorkshire. The photograph was sent to the VC65 recorder Dr C Fletcher, who confirmed its ID and said that he hadn't seen one and not only was it new for Foxglove but also the first record in VC65.
Its larval food plant is Ivy and probably other plants where it eats the dead leaves. It is a beautiful moth.
Another interesting fact this week was that the trap on the back veranda caught five Poplar Hawkmoths but there were none in the trap at the front of the building. Similalry footman moths were caught in the front and not the back. Although the traps are not far apart they do look out onto slightly different habitats. The portable trap is placed at the heath and on the wetland, weather permitting, and at the end of the year it will be interesting to see similarities and differences in the catches.
Another moth caught included this Scallop Shell moth whose larvae feed on Aspen and Sallows. We do not see this moth very often so it was nice to see it.
Friday, July 14th 2023
At this time of year species recorders and visitors enjoy the views of butterflies flitting around the reserve. It is thanks to Foxglove's staff and volunteers who carry out not only habitat work but also tasks to maintain the manmade structures, like paths and steps across the reserve, that this spectacle of flitting butterflies can be appreciated.
Jules and Nicola were hard at work, with a power tool! repairing the pond dipping platform. All work is much appreciated and valued - thank you.
Jenny was out recording the butterflies along a set transect. She recorded 110 butterflies of 12 species including Large and Small Skippers, Large and Small Whites, Common Blue, Small Heath and the Dark Green Fritillary which was being harassed by a Meadow Brown near Spigot Mere. These records are sent to Butterfly Conservation. Thanks Jenny. (There will be another blog about the moth recorders tomorrow.)
Jenny spotted a Dark Green Fritillary on her transect, whilst I had hunted for one all day! I had just about given up when one flew over my head in the Scrapes and of course disappeared, only seconds later to land on the boardwalk in front of me. Camera to the ready and I was pleased with the photo that I took, although as usual vegetation and background leave a lot to be desired.
Small Tortoiseshell populations fluctuate yearly at Foxglove. Not many have been recorded so far this year, but I did manage to photograph one on a very windswept moor.
Monday, July 10th 2023
Our moth traps catch some lovely moths at this time of year. This Large Emerald does live up to its name and is a large moth.
It flew off from the log and landed in the leaves of a shrub. Sitting as it is, its brown eyes and striped brown legs are on show. The caterpillars can be found from July to the following June, feeding on Silver and Downy Birch, Hazel and Alder.
We also catch the lighter coloured and smaller Light Emerald moth at this time of year and usually we can identify it without too much trouble. One taken from the trap was half looked at and thought to be a Large Emerald, because of its size. On closer inspection we realised that it was a Light Emerald but a 'huge' one. Andrew measured its wingspan whilst it was in a container and it was approximately 60mm, instead of the usual 30 to 40mm. Unfortunately both the large one and the normal sized one were not feeling photogenic! Fingers crossed for next week.
The portable trap was placed on the heath and we recorded nine True Lover's Knot moths, whose caterpillars feed on Heather.
Butterflies and Moths
Sunday, July 9th 2023
It is a strange year as far as recording our species goes. Some have appeared early, some very late, some in small numbers some in large numbers. We checked when the Dark Green Fritillary had been seen last year and it was around the 22nd June. So we were on the hunt looking for it in all the places it was recorded last year. To no avail. Walking on Friday a bright orange butterfly flew overhead. It could be nothing else other than a fritillary.
Out on the moor at least two were seen but it was very much it went that way, no the other way, it's landed over there, it's off again. Photos were to say the least dollops and splodges. I must admit I did get a lovely photo of a Black Knapweed where the butterfly had just taken off!
Andrew did manage to catch it and we could see its underwing and identify it as the Dark Green Fritillary.
Over the last few years the number of Narrow-bordered 5 Spot Burnet moths has increased and now many can be seen feeding on the Rayed Knapweed across the middle moor.
Of course there is always one!
Weekend opening Saturday 8th and Sunday 9th July 2023
Saturday, July 8th 2023
Foxglove Covert Local Nature Reserve is open on both Saturday 8th and Sunday 9th July, but please note that the Field Centre will only be open between 10am and 4pm on Saturday - it will be closed on Sunday.
Enjoy your visit!
Thursday, July 6th 2023
Sitting in the hide looking for the Kingfisher, we noticed that the Mallards were playing 'peek-a-boo' over the duck raft. Our eyes then settled on the female Little Grebe sitting on a nest, being carefully plied with more weed by the male. No Kingfisher. Taking a look around with binoculars hoping for a blue flash, I saw a brown shape over near the feeders assuming that it was a dead tree, but then it moved. A closer look and I realised that it was a Roe Buck. Quietly pointing this out to my friend we photographed the deer and watched enthralled as it ate Hawthorn, Blackberry and Rose! (A new addition to help the volunteers??!!) This buck was in his summer coat and looked plump and well fed. His antlers were out of velvet.
These photos were taken by Tim - thankyou.
We felt that he was aware of us as we sat in the hide, even though we were very quiet. We felt him watching us as we watched him.
Sunday, July 2nd 2023
Before I deal with the juvenile birds there are two thank yous that need to be given.
Firstly Foxglove was granted money from Mr R Brooks, who is the Principal for Environmental Support and Compliance in the DIO Technical Services team. This money provided Foxglove with much needed tools. This is really appreciated and they will be well used to help with the valuable habitat work that is carried out across the reserve. They arrived and Carl and Gerry enjoyed unpacking them!
We had another generous donation from Mr C Bulloch who gave us another Robinson Moth Trap that was no longer being used. This will soon be put out with our other traps. Again very many thanks.
Now to the birds. The nesting season is almost finished and the young juvenile birds are coming through the ringing room.
This Robin is probably from a second brood as it does not have any red feathers, only its speckled breast.
Another Robin caught was older showing some of its red feathers.
We have a large population of Bullfinches across the reserve, giving many visitors a great deal of pleasure as they rarely see them in their home haunts. This is a juvenile.
The final chcicks to be ringed were the Barn Owls. There were three chicks and they received their rings. You can see the different ages. The eldest was showing its beautiful wing feathers, which you can just see at the bottom of the photo.
A close up of a chick.
Thank you to all the bird ringers who have monitored hundreds of nest boxes this season.