Lots of Stories to Tell

Monday, May 1st 2017

Jack, who rings on Salisbury Plain, is an expert at finding nests. This nest of Song Thrush chicks was right at the end of a branch of Yew.  Only a mother could love these chicks, although they will turn more fluffy, a very scientific term, as their feathers develop.

Song Thrush nest

He also found a Linnet's nest

Linnet Nest

and a Blackcap's nest.  Once hatched and the chicks are of the correct size he will return to ring them.  Blackcap has not been recorded on our observation board at Foxglove, although I did spot one on the outskirts of Darlington.

Blackcap nest

At this time of year everything is new and growing.  Much of the coppiced willow is producing shoots.  Food chains begin with plants and many, many animals eat them, from Roe Deer down to the tiniest weevil.  This one's proboscis is firmly fixed into the small new shoot.

Weevil feeding on new willow shoot

In early April Bee Flys made their presence known.  In the sunshine they were spotted again, this time feeding on the cherry blossom.  It was fascinating to watch how their bodies remained still whilst their wings were almost like humming-bird wings!  They have very long legs!

Bee Fly on cherry blossom

Northern Marsh, Common Spotted and their hybrids and Early Marsh Orchids have been spreading their range over the last five year.  The map we have that informs people where they can and cannot strim has had more marks added.  One area of Early Purple Orchids (EPOs), the first to flower,  was increasing in size but in the same place.  There were about 10  to 12 EPOs on the wetland bank and this number had remained constant for several years.  Not this year!  There are more flowers over a greater area. Fantastic!

Early Purple Orchid - EPO

An exercise carried out regularly is feeding the Water Voles with apples.  Other food given to them was rejected!  I did this job yesterday and during the day watched the apples reduce in size and the number of droppings increase.  One apple disappeared completely but not a Water Vole in sight.  I repeated the task this morning and still no Water Voles.  Taking a quick walk through the Scrapes, sort of ambling quielty, I thought I saw something on the middle raft, no could not be a Water Vole, but it was!  Crept up even more quietly, if that was possible, and started taking photos.  Remember to remove the label off the apple!  Would also be helpful if the vegetation would move out of the way!  I watched for several minutes and the amount of apple consumed was considerable.

Water Vole feeding

Then a little relax before starting again.

Having a rest

Time to head for home as it slid off the platform.  Please note the piece of vegetation!

Water Vole leaving theapple raft

Usually the path taken is under the pond dipping platform heading towards the boardwalk.  Not this time.  It swam towards me and I am sure that it knew I was there, even though I was as still as still could be.

Water Vole

It headed under the boardwalk and disappeared.

You can see that it uses this pathway often, as there is a channel through the leaves.

Path through leaves

Many visitors enjoyed Foxglove over the weekend.  Some had seen the television programme and were amazed that such a reserve existed in the camp and that it was so beautiful and peaceful.  A Jay was feeding in the back garden and this thrilled a visitor who had never seen one before.

(1) Comments:

Heather Jamieson responded on 2nd May 2017 with...

My husband and I visited on Sunday morning after having seen the reserve on Tony Robinson’s Coast to Coast programme and we were truly amazed by the size, variety of habitats and commitment that goes into maintaining such a beautiful and tranquil place for our wildlife to enjoy and thrive in. It is hard to believe that it is surrounded by such a large and busy Garrison, but it just shows what can be achieved, so thank you.

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The Friends of Foxglove Covert is for those individuals, families and organisations who would like to support the reserve through an annual membership subscription. Friends receive a regular newsletter and invitations to attend our various activities and social events.

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Winter Worky Day

Sunday 3rd March 2024 | 10am - 3pm

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