Middle Autumn

Friday, November 17th 2017

As autumn progresses into middle autumn, so more leaves fall, opening up views that have been hidden during the summer.  Ferns, like most plants need water, light, soil and nutrients.  This one must be getting all it requires somehow, judging by the length of its fronds.

Fern in tree

Closer to the ground Candlesnuff fungus grows on dead and decaying wood.

Candlesnuff fungus

Marker posts do not make the best of backgrounds for anything to be photographed against but when you see a harvestman with such long legs resting on one, the appeal is just too great.

Harvestman on marker post

We are preparing for the Christmas Hamper raffle.  If you would like to make a contribution please leave it at the Field Centre.   A reminder that the Foxglove Calendar is for sale.  Foxglove's Christmas Dinner is to be held on Wednesday 13th December, if you wish to attend please contact the reserve to book your place. 

Finally there are only 3 days and 20 hours left to vote for Foxglove in the Aviva Community Fund Vote.  Thank you to everyone who has voted so far.

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Thursday Volunteers

Thursday, November 16th 2017

The Thursday volunteers have been working hard on a number of small projects.  The ponds alongside Risedale Beck are fed by water running through pipes from the beck.  Dams have been built to keep the water at the right height for the pipes but sometimes the dams are broken when the beck is in flood.  The first task today was to repair one of the dams to get water flowing back into the pond.

After that, repair of netting on one of the boardwalks keeps people from slipping or getting tangled in the broken netting.  This will continue to be an important part of the volunteers' work over the coming months.  A female Sparrowhawk flew from a stone under one of the bridges along Risedale Beck as the volunteers were making their way to the dam - more typically a site where you would expect to find Grey Wagtails or Dippers!

Meanwhile, work over the last few weeks on the wetlands has seen 5 of the ponds cleared of vegetation that was taking them over, with work having started on another 3.  The wetlands are gradually returning to being the diverse range of ponds that provide a wide range of habitats, with over a dozen Mallard and two Snipe being seen.  After a couple of weeks, the disturbed sediment in the water has gradually settled.  There are signs of Water Vole activity and one was swimming and disappeared with the characteristic 'plop' just before dusk.  

Continuing work on the wetlands and removing Gorse that is taking over some of the other areas will be among the main tasks for the volunteers on weekdays and on the monthly Worky Days over the next few months.

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Moths and Moving

Wednesday, November 15th 2017

Last year we put the moth trap out nearly every Tuesday night unless the weather was very poor.  There were several nights with no moths, so we decided this year that we would check the weather and if we thought it would be 'good moth weather' the trap would go out.  Last night was good and we were rewarded with 31 moths of 6 species and lots of midge like insects.  The majority of moths caught were December Moth.  Surprisingly its flight season is from early October through to January.  It overwinters as an egg, attached to a twig or a tree trunk.  Broadleaved trees including oaks, birches, elms, poplars, sallows, Hawthorn and Blackthorn are all food plants of the caterpillar from April until June.

December Moth

We also caught some Mottled Umber and this is a moth that can show considerable variation, as these three do.

Mottled Umber Moths

Moths and books were examined closely to ensure that we had the correct species.  Conversations were quite scientific!  It has the splodge that it should have.  It's got that white bit.  Has it got all its wiggly lines in the right place? 

Identifying moths

Another conversation started with the confirmation that a dropping was from a Fox and ended by confirming that male trees still had flowers - how we finished up at this point we were not sure!

It was also moving day for the ponies.  A well laid plan was executed perfectly.  With quiet talking and careful walking, the ponies left their paddock, one behind the other, and walked quietly into their new one.

Moving Heath

Getting there

They settled immediately and began eating Gorse.  Taurus was happy to stop feeding, for a short time, to pose for a photograph.


Thank you to everyone who helped today.

News just in :-

A little piece of good news for you all - one of our Reed Buntings has been caught alive in Holland. That doesn't happen every day! Ringed FGC Dec 16, retrapped Oct 17 in Friesland.


A Chiffchaff caught last time we were out, came from Ladybank, Fife.

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Tuesday Volunteers

Tuesday, November 14th 2017

Tuesdays are work days and the volunteers were busy.  Our meadows must be strimmed once the flowers have seeded and then raked to ensure that the wild flowers flourish from spring through to early autumn.  If the cuttings were left and allowed to decay then this would enrich the soil which is not good for the flowers.  They much prefer nutrient poor soil.  

Because of the varied flora in the meadows, they need to be cut at different times.  The meadow opposite the Grand Fir is one of the last to be strimmed.  The late flowering Devil's Bit Scabious can be found here, providing food for bees.

Devil's Bit Scabious and bee

Hardheads or Knapweed  can also be found.

Hardheads or Knapweed

Today it looks shorn, but the seeds will have fallen and been moved around with raking.  It is now ready for all winter can throw at it - rain, snow and frost!

Strimmed meadow

A puzzle - do you know where this photograph was taken?  The tree tubes are being checked and where necessary removed.

Checking tree tubes

I have not seen the Kestrel for a few days, but whilst the volunteers were having lunch in the Tower Hide, the male Kestrel came close and was photographed by John.

Male Kestrel

I am not sure if these Willow Aphids, found as tree tubes were checked, are so beautiful.

Willow Aphids

A reminder about the Christmas Dinner on 13th December.  There are more details on the Events page.  We always hold a Christmas Raffle and we are beginning to collect items for this.  If you wish to make a donation then please bring it to the Field Centre.  Thank you.

Mainly sunny today with some drizzle around, but that does create a rainbow.

A rainbow

Thank  you to everyone who helped carry out a range of tasks during the day.

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Monday, November 13th 2017

There are only 7 days, 21 hours and 5 minutes left to vote for Foxglove in the Aviva Community Fund.  Thank you to everyone who has voted so far.  There is still time to vote.  Any money raised from this vote will help the reserve to flourish.

Talking of days, if I have counted correctly there are are only 42 'sleeps' left until Christmas Day.  If you are looking for some different presents, you could join a friend or relative as a Foxglove Friend.

AAB - Adopt-a-Box gives you the opportunity to join the bird ringers as they visit the nest boxes around the reserve and at the end of the year find out how all the boxes have been used.  The money raised from this scheme helps to look after all the nest boxes. 

Checking nest boxes

There are of course our books and bird seeds, charts and clothing for sale in the Field Centre.  Any money raised through our sales helps the reserve with continued habitat management, ensuring that all the flora and fauna are catered for.  Almost each species has their own special requirements and a part to play in the whole of the reserve.

Bluebells along Risedale Beck need to have the canopy controlled to enable the flowers to bloom well in the spring and provide food for many insects.


Already, Hazel coppiced early last winter, has produced Hazel nuts which have been eaten by Grey Squirrels, mice and voles.  Now the leaves have fallen but already catkins have been produced in preparation for next spring.

Hazel Catkins

Cutting and removing the hay from the middle moor prepares it well for summer flowering.

Middle Moor

Tiny habitats are important as they cater for many a bug and beast!  In this case a spider who has built its web on a Cock's Foot Grass seed head.

Spider and Web

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