Blog Archive (8) Posts Made in October 2023
Monday, October 30th 2023
The North and East Yorkshire Ecological Data Centre ran a Waxcap identification course at Foxglove Covert on Sunday 29th October. Members of our our species team were able to join the group, which was led by Steve Hindle of the National Trust.
In addition to species that we already knew we had on site, such as Scarlet Waxcap (pictured), new species were also spotted. We'll add Earthy Waxcap and Oily Waxcap (don't you just love the names of fungi?!) to our ever growing species list.
We're now managing a couple of grassland areas on site specifically to encourage a greater abundance and diversity of these fantastic, colourful fungi.
Meadows and Ponds
Friday, October 27th 2023
Last week we had two military groups join us as part of their Global Charge Day, an Army sustainability event taking place across the world. The 1st Regiment Military Police and the 4th Battalion The Royal Regiment of Scotland volunteered on Tuesday and Thursday respectively, completing some big jobs which would have taken much longer without their help.
The Military Police spent much of the day raking and tedding the recently cut meadow. Moving the cut grass off the meadow ensures wildflowers, which do well in nutritionally poorer soil, can grow again next year. By raking the grass into windrows we could easily collect the cut grass for baling. The group managed to rake the whole meadow, and we were even able to fit in the making of five bales at the end of the day!
Members of the group also continued path work started by volunteers from Natural England earlier this month. They removed the layer of vegetation starting to take over the path, making it much easier to traverse.
Later in the week the 4 SCOTS got very wet and muddy, and not just because it rained most of the day! This group spent their day in Spigot Mere, a pond created as a habitat for passage and breeding waders. The rushes and reeds were beginning to take over, so the 4 SCOTS helpfully pulled up as much vegetation and roots as they could. This will help stop the vegetation encroaching through the year. If it hadn’t been pulled up there would be little open water by this time next year.
The hard work of both groups is much appreciated!
Meet Foxglove’s New Ranger
Friday, October 20th 2023
Hi, I'm El, the new Ranger here to tell you a little bit about myself and my first week on the reserve.
I'm a passionate conservationist and I have previously worked on urban and island reserves. I love bird watching and spent some of my teenage years bird ringing with the Swaledale Ringing Group here at Foxglove. I am really keen to create and maintain natural spaces for the benefit of wildlife and people.
I just started this Monday but have already been busy working with two military groups to rake grass in the meadow and clear rushes and reeds in one of the ponds. This week I have also enjoyed meeting many of the dedicated volunteers here at the reserve. It has been a great week to start off the job and I’m looking forward to what the future holds.
All Work and No Play?
Friday, October 13th 2023
We had a very productive volunteer task day this week - raking, baling, buring…and pressing… apples to be precise.
OK, not particularly effective for habitat management, but something very rewarding for all involved, and an autumn tradition within these isles for generations.
Of course the best thing about this particular task is the end product - everyone involved enjoyed a glass of liquid nectar and took a bottle home with them. Looking forward to repeating this next year - anyone fancy the idea of Foxglove Cider?
Field Centre open Sunday 15th October 12 noon - 4.00pm
Friday, October 13th 2023
The reserve is open all weekend as usual, but the Field Centre will be closed on Saturday 14th October and the morning of Sunday 15th October.
The Field Centre will be open to visitors from 12.00 noon to 4.00pm on Sunday.
Paving the Way
Thursday, October 12th 2023
A huge thank you to the group of ten volunteers from Natural England who visited Foxglove Covert today. The weather was certainly in our favour, and an immense amount of progress has been made in removing vegetation from one of the pathways that leads away from the easy access Red Route.
From being an overgrown, potentially slippery path, there is now a cleared track, with a firm surface for visitors to use. In addition to helping the reserve out, the Natural England staff had a chance to catch up with each other face to face, which is so important in a world where many now work from home.
They clearly enjoyed the day, as they'll be returning to Foxglove next spring, to help us out once again. It was a pleasure to host such an enthusiastic group.
Getting further, faster - together…
Monday, October 2nd 2023
Conservation is never top of the funding list and nature reserves such as Foxglove Covert are small compared to the landscape scale environmental action that we need for nature to thrive. While highly motivated, most local conservation groups have just a few active participants, making it difficult to have an large enough impact. This is why it is so important that we work togther wherever possible, amplifying our message which might otherwise be drowned out in an era of mass communication and multiple demands on our time. To succeed we need to be outward looking and collaborative - combining resources, knowledge and effort.
That's why we were delighted to host a Badger Trust event on Sunday 1st October, where Badger Groups from across the north of England came together for a training day. Participants, who were hugely impressed by our reserve, came to learn about wildlife crime in relation to badgers and also did some surveying around the site while they were here.
Ironically, just as the attendees were settling down for their first presentation, I was out sorting out some damage to our footpath network.
It looks like the damage was caused by a badger!
At this time of year, young boars are often forced to leave their natal clan (just as they start to challenge the established order), so it's unsurprising that this has happened in an area of the reserve where we've not seen much evidence of badgers before. It will be interesting to see if this leads to a new sett, or whether it's just a passing phase.
We hope to see our friends from the various Badger Groups across the north again in the not too distant future.
Sunday, October 1st 2023
There is so much cutting and raking going on around the reserve at the moment as a vital part of our grassland management. After wildflower seeds have been shed, it's important to cut the remaining vegetation to prevent a build-up of nutrients in the soil. Getting rid of the thatch at the end of the season also makes it easier for wildflower seeds to germinate in the spring.
Raking the grass into piles helps, but it's far better to be able to do something productive with the grass. Over the past couple of weeks, Brian has been putting his engineering skills to good effect, developing a portable hand baler.
We have a strip alongside our meadow where it's traditionally been hard to remove the grass, so this is where we decided to trial this new piece of kit. Conditions weren't perfect, but after tedding - or turning the hay with a fork - and a couple of hours of windy conditions, the hay was good enough for the experiment.
I think that you can tell from Peter and John's faces (while proudly sitting astride our first bale) that things went well!
Stacking the bales provided various photo opportunities!
Many thanks to Peter, John and especially to Brian - yet another productive day at the reserve!