A Multitude of Tasks

Tuesday, September 19th 2017

The day started before 9am with us doing checks for footprints on the mink rafts and on the activity levels of the wasp nest at the Lake Hide.

Jade was checking the Water Vole platforms and helping us out by feeding the ducks in the area below the duck feeding platform.

It was not long before the Tuesday volunteers joined us in the multitude of tasks for the day. These started with the tyre repair to the small trailer and then some punctures on what are now some spare inner tubes. Thankfully Jennifer had got all the things we needed for these repairs last week which meant all went smoothly ….

In the Field Centre Colin was helping with computer work in the office, including starting to get some of the bird ringing returns on to a map in preparation for going on our website....

….and Bob was measuring out bird seed for the sale to the public.

The team were excellent at clearing the brash from the heath; the spoils from the heath fencing.

With Dales School assisting later on in the morning.

The chaps from Len Porter were busy on the heath, continuing to fence the area with post and rail. They finally finished the whole of this fairly large job at the back end of the afternoon!

Peter tidied up the debris from the brash clearance on the track, while we readied ourselves for the evening of various bug/insect activities with the 1st Brompton on Swale Beavers.

This proved to be an enjoyable experience for us all and included; making bug hotels, sweep netting and looking at creepy crawlies under the logs at the outdoor classroom, 

an explanation of and look at of the workings of the wormery,

finishing off with the setting up of the moth trap ....

....before saying good night!

Thank you to all the volunteers who were fantastic, as always, carrying out a multitude of tasks. 

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Up and Running

Monday, September 18th 2017

It was good to be back at the reserve having been away for a few days. It was obvious that it had been a very busy time in my absence, and the fencing on the heath is well on the way to being finished.

I hit the ground running as we had Carnagill Primary School in for the day. This would be one of the last pond dipping sessions as the water is noticeably colder and a lot of the inverts will be descending to the warmth of the mud. The bugs were scarce but we still had the ground beetles, woodlice, slugs and even the odd newt to look at by the ever questioning and enthusiastic children.

We were able to show the extent of buglife near the flower meadow with spiders and harvestmen, plus the various craneflies and other diptera present. I am always amazed at how much life there is in just a square metre of grassland.

From the smiles of the attentive children who joined us today I think we all had a great time getting up close to the flora and fauna that can still be seen at this time of the year.

One of the reasons I have not been around for the last week or so, is because four of the ringing group went to spend time at a ringing station in Norway, near Tromso. It was good to experience new species such as the Tengmalms Owl….

....Yellow-browed Warblers

....as well as Three-toed Woodpeckers, Arctic Redpolls and other species we only get a glimpse of during our winter period.

Thank you to our fantastic hosts Karl-Birger Strann and Vigdis Frivoll who not only kept us well fed, but also well trained in various aspects of ringing techniques and bird ageing etc.  The use of elevator nets in Northern Norway (above), well within the Arctic Circle, is quite routine.

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Fur and Feathers

Sunday, September 17th 2017

I have just realised that my blogs often fall into two categories plants and animals.  Yesterday it was plants today animals.

On Wednesday, although we did not get many moths as it was quite a cool night with some wind and rain, we did get some quality ones.  It was too windy to place them on leaves but they did sit still on our sheltered log.  When this close up of a Hedge Rustic was examined you can see that it appears  to have a nice furry coat around its head.

Close up of Hedge Rustic face

Our bat boxes will be checked on Wednesday but this tiny Pipistrelle was quite happy hanging around in the hide.  They do eat a great many insects.

Pipistrelle bat

People have reported that they had seen the Water Voles.  I hadn't and was a little disappointed.  Walking along quite noisily with my pup in front, I saw that the apple was a bit bigger than it should be, so we stopped rather abruptly, and the camera started to click.  I am sure it knew it was being watched.  You can see its claws on the front paws.  Its little nose and whiskers are clear.

Water Vole

It then turned round a little to see me all the better and you can see the typical sharp yellow teeth that it uses so well to demolish the apples.

Water Vole

CES is finished and we are back to having a little more of a lie in.  It was a small group of ringers this morning so not too many nets up.  161 birds were processed, including a Willow Tit, a very rare visitor to the ringing room.

Willow Tit

Some Great Tits, ringed in the nest boxes this spring, continue to thrive.  Goldcrests appear to have had a good breeding season and are back in our conifers for the winter.  Several were newly ringed.   Although Chiffchaffs have been heard around the reserve only two were caught.   The amazing beak of this Treecreeper, used to hunt for insects and larvae in tree bark is in contrast to that of the seed eating Willow Tit above.


Thank you to everyone who helped today.

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A Lovely Day

Saturday, September 16th 2017

Apart from a couple of showers late in the afternoon it was a lovely, slightly blustery, day at Foxglove.  There were many visitors who enjoyed walking around and visiting the Field Centre.  One young boy had come in to gather information and photos to help with his homework on trees and forests.  A little girl was looking to identify some trees, flowers and birds to help towards a nature badge for Brownies.  Both went away with some activity sheets, photos and leaves to help them.

Walking around doing the weekend jobs takes a planned route to include the mink rafts, hides and water inlets.  It also gives opportunities to see what is around.  Common Darters and Speckled Woods sunbathed and flitted from sunny spot to sunny spot.  A Southern Hawker checked us out at the pond dipping platform - no chance of a photo!  Standing out today were the autumn colours and fruits.

Down by the bullet catcher pond, the Norway Maple (I hope I have the correct ID) was changing to lovely reds and yellows and the seeds were standing out.  These will soon 'helicopter' to the ground.

Norway Maple

Elderberries are shiny black.


Our tree ID is coming along slowly but surely.  We will have to look at the twigs and buds over winter.  Thankfully the trees don't move!  We have identified Buckthorn, Alder Buckthorn and Wayfaring Tree.  All we had to find was the Whitebeam, which we did today!  It was noticeable that the fruits had already been eaten.


Hawthorn berries are making a beautiful show on the trees, bright red and glossy.  I suspect that they are not quite ripe yet as no birds have been noticed in the trees.  Our Blackbirds and Song Thrushes along with migrant Blackbirds, Fieldfares and Redwings will soon clear the trees later in the autumn.

Hawthorn berries

Walking through the Scrapes we spotted the slight opening of a Yellow Flag Iris seed pod.  I remember trying to open one of these pods to show the seeds to some children and thinking I should have brought a carving knife and board to open it.  The pod is extremely tough.

Yellow Flag Iris seed pod

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Another Busy Day

Friday, September 15th 2017

The team from Len Porter continued their installation of our new fences on the main area of heath today.

After continued preparations of the new fence lines on the small heath yesterday by our Thursday volunteer team there was lots to be tidied up. Some of the piles are now cleared, but we’ll have to finish next week!

Elsewhere on the reserve the Swaledale sheep that arrived last weekend seem to be settling in well and grazing contentedly at Plover’s Pool.

Meanwhile Fern, Florence and Dolly the Dexter cows, on loan from Big Sheep Little Cow, are continuing their job of grazing the wetland.

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