A Useful Springlike Day

Thursday, May 5th 2016

Today was another beautiful sunny day at Foxglove. Our Thursday volunteers came in to help out around the reserve and successfully completed a range of tasks. The day started with the lawns around the Field Centre getting their first mowing of the season. Some time was then spent replacing the wire mesh on the bridges out on the moorland- this is in place to make sure people do not slip on the wood when it is wet, but in some places the mesh had started to come lose. They were soon back in good working order.

Johns triumph today was managing to get the webcam fixed that overlooks the lake, and feeds live video back to the Field Centre. He has been working on this for a while so this was a great achievement. Now visitors can watch the young moorhen chicks paddling around the lake at the far end of the reserve from the comfort of the visitor centre.

Meanwhile, other volunteers spent the day paddling up to the top of their wellies in the scrapes area of the reserve. This is a series of interlinked pools with pond dipping platforms for educational visits.

The water levels at the middle platform have been too low for some time to be used for dipping so it was decided to raise the water levels. This involved reinforcing some of the banks, and raising the height of the dams with mud and wooden planks. It was a satisfying and muddy job, and we now eagerly await the rising of the water levels to see if it has been successful.

Whilst hammering one of the planks to act as a dam this Stonefly wandered up the board and was lucky not to have been hit. There are 34 recorded species in Britain, of which 2 are thought to be extinct. They are in the adult state from 3 days to 3 weeks depending on species, having spent the previous 11 months as larvae having gone through about 20 instars, or growth sheds. The male and female locate each other by drumming on substrate with the end of their abdomen. Once mated the female lays her eggs on the surface of the water and the cycle begins again. Maybe it was my hammering that attracted this one to me, but not an ideal mate!

This week the weather seems to have finally started warming up a bit. Flowers are starting to appear around the reserve such as this Ground Ivy.

Taking advantage also of the warmer weather, the butterflies have also started appearing in greater numbers. An Orange Tip (below) was seen for the first time today and a small blue butterfly flew past yesterday but didn’t settle long enough to determine the species. Brimstones and Speckled Wood are also starting to appear and Peacock butterflies are now being seen regularly.

Thanks very much to the volunteers who came and helped out today.


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