Bees and Deluge

Saturday, May 27th 2017

At the reserve today we had the first day of the Richmond and District Beekeepers’ Association Introduction to Beekeeping. This is a weekend course to basically see if beekeeping is for the folk attending. We spent the morning in the activity room having a fact filled lecture by Keith Bartlem.


In the afternoon, looking like we were invaded by aliens, we donned our bee suits and had a hands-on experience with bee hives on the Heath. As you can see from the photo the clouds were darkening.

We abandoned the outdoor work for the shelter of the Field Centre, and not before time as the heavens opened. The track was a beck, and the gutters struggled to hold the torrential rain, 18 mm fell by the time I left the reserve.

Brian Slater, our weekend volunteer, managed to take some lovely photos, before the thunder and lightning, of this newly emerged 4-Spotted Chaser….

…a Pine Weevil was also spotted. Although interesting to see it can be a serious pest to pine and spruce , damaging young shoots and the root system.

This Green Veined Butterfly caterpillar had recently hatched out on a Cuckoo Flower.

 Thank you to Brian for all his help today, and lets hope the weather is better for the beekeepers, and the bird ringing tomorrow.  

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A Story to Tell

Saturday, May 27th 2017

Out on the wetland checking for flowers and Adder's Tongue Fern, I noticed a toad, as Christine knelt to check a leaf.  I was just about to pick up this toad when I realised that toads are not furry! 

Bank Vole in vegetation

We watched and it kept its head tucked in the grass, obviously it couldn't be seen if its head was hidden.  It then decided it would head off and ran across the path where it encountered my pup's tail.  Initially the vole thought this would be a good place to rest and curl up, but then thought better of it and continued its journey across the path and into more vegetation.

Bank Vole in vegetation

After this interlude we continued on our way checking for flowers.  Common Milkwort has spread on the wetland but we could find no more than one clump on the moorland.

Common Milkwort

Lousewort is also to be found on the wetland and moorland.


Dog Daisies are open along Dog Daisy Avenue - where else would they be?

Dog Daisy

In the back garden, Daisy, but this one tinged with pink.


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Large Boxes and Large Logs

Friday, May 26th 2017

Today was our final school visit of the week, where we hosted Hackforth and Hornby C of E Primary School for mini-beast hunting, pond dipping and a poetry walk. It was a fun (and very hot) day, with the whole of this small school visiting us. There were keen pupils (and teachers!) and we were impressed by the support older pupils were giving to the younger ones!

Next week we take a break from school visits for half term – instead running two activities for families (there’s still some space – you can book though our events pages here) and hosting walks as part of the Swaledale Festival..!

Our licensed bird ringers also completed another circuit of the large boxes at Foxglove, to ring jackdaw chicks with their beautiful blue eyes…

…and this stock dove, still sitting on her eggs.

Peter mowed, strimmed and filled bird feeders ready for bird ringing at the weekend (it’ll be this Sunday morning if you’d like to have a look). We also made some small adjustments to the positioning of our new large logs with the help of Willie Metcalfe.

Thank you to all who helped us today – it was another busy one!

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A Hot Day!

Thursday, May 25th 2017

With temperatures reaching 27.5 °C in the shade it was not surprising that we were sweating when standing still. The team of volunteers donned various head wear to keep the sun from baking scalps. Christine looked particularly summery as she re-vamped the various route marker posts around the reserve.

 We are gradually going around the reserve and giving a face lift to the various green, red and yellow route marker posts.

 There is a fair amount of these posts which need taking out, stained, colours touched up then put back looking fresh. This is no easy task and it all takes time.

The rest of the team strimmed and mowed the net rides ready for the bird ringing on the weekend, as well as doing the important water and dam checks that ensure that we have water in the places that need it. Andrew put out the hose for the grass in front of the Field Centre as it is looking rather thirsty at present!

In the Field Centre Ivan was putting some edging which tidy ups some areas, and the results speak for themselves.

Thank you to all that helped today.

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Waiting for quiet in the Scrapes…

Wednesday, May 24th 2017

Today was especially busy for us with school visits, as we had not one group, but two, joining us: Years 1 and 2 at Hipswell C of E Primary School. Year 2 were with us for the morning and year 1 in the afternoon! With only half a day each, we squeezed in two of our activities with each group to explore different habitats: Mini-beast hunting …

…and pond dipping.

The first group also put out apples on the water vole feeding platforms. They were delighted to find that one had already been started when they came back to check before they left at lunchtime. However the water voles stayed out of sight until it was a bit quieter in the Scrapes – then we spotted this one tucking into one of those tasty apples!

We are fully booked for school groups this summer, but you can book now for the autumn term, through our website on our education pages, or by phone or email.

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