Insects Again

Sunday, July 23rd 2017

Yesterday it rained and it did not take long for the becks to fill.  Out on the moor the tiny streams were rushing across the moor.

A flooded moor stream

In a quiet eddy under an overhanging piece of bank, the Water Crickets were managing not to be swept away.

Water Crickets

Risedale Beck was a beautiful colour!  

Flooded Risedale beck

There are not many flowers along Risedale Beck during the summer, as the canopy of leaves from Hazel and Alder shade out the light.  However these trees do provide food for many caterpillars and larvae.  Once the rain stopped the sun came out and so did the insects. Something caught my eye and it was a fly.  Looking closely I realised that it was having a cleaning session, starting with antenna, then front legs, then finally back ones.

Bath time!

Hoverflies were busy hovering around many different species of flower.  I caught this one head on.

Hoverfly

Angelica is in flower and providing plenty of food.  I am unable to remember ever seeing so many of these flies Sciara hemerobioides, a Fungus Gnat, on one flower.  They have bright yellow tummies - to be correct abdomens.  The Soldier Beetles were also out in numbers.

Sciara hemerobioides (Fungus Gnat)

On the heath I spotted a frog hopper and realised that it was one of my favourites.  Camera ready and some photos taken.  Honest, this is Cicadella viridis a Green Frog Hopper.  Not one for the calander competition!

Cicadella viridis

Small Skippers were feeding in large numbers too.  This one, again on the heath, feeding on Betony.  The small meadows, as well as the heath, are covered with the pink purple flowers.

Small Skipper on Betony

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More Images from Foxglove 25

Saturday, July 22nd 2017

It was damp last Saturday but we were very lucky that it did not do this!

Rain!

The puddles soon appeared and the rain drops kept falling.  I hasten to add that these photos were taken from the protection of the Field Centre.

More Rain!

During the week we have received people's photos of Foxglove 25.  Thank you very much for bringing them in.  These ones were taken by Colin.

The pond dipping team.  Sticklebacks, beetle larvae, damsel and dragonfly larvae were caught.

Getting ready for pond dipping

Listening to the speeches.

Listening to the speeches

The Exmoor Pony was very well behaved and many people stopped to admire him.

Up close with the Exmoor Pony

Enjoying the sunshine

Enjoying the sunshine

These are from another volunteer.  Glennis's owl pellet dissection held both young and not so young enthralled.

Owl Pellets

Roger and Rosie took people on a bug hunt.  They all had to receive instructions about sweep netting and using a pooter.

We are all going on a bug hunt!

Looking at the bugs from the heath.  Was it really that big?

Bug hunting

Volunteers at the end of the day - they had worked hard - thank you.

Volunteers

And to complete the weekend the BBQ.  A right royal feast.

The BBQ

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Changing Seasons

Friday, July 21st 2017

It has been somewhat busy at Foxglove over the recent weeks, with endless days of preparation for the Foxglove 25th Anniversary Celebrations. With the weekend now behind us, there is finally time to stop and take stock of the situation. Instead of needing to look at what needs to be painted or strimmed or tidied up, there has been the chance to look at the reserve around us purely from a point of interest. What I found today, whilst out checking the cows, caught me somewhat unawares. I was thinking it was still early Summer, possibly even late Spring, but somehow the weeks have passed and I find the blossoms and flowers of Spring have long gone.

In the hedgerows, many of the berries and nuts are forming. These Guelder Rose berries are already starting to turn red.

The Rowan berries vary in colour at present from green through orange to red- this was the ripest bunch I could find.

The sloes on the Blackthorn bushes have swelled to full size, but are still very green and unripe.

The same is true for the Hazelnuts.

And for the Holly.

The little four-lobed Spindle seeds are currently a delicate pale green. They are a delight later in the year when their bright pink seed cases split open to reveal the vivid orange seeds inside.

I even found one or two of the Bramble leaves starting to go red around the edges. 

The Wildflower Meadow has taken on a golden brown tinge as the Yellow Rattle and grasses start to seed.

It is a colourful time to be at Foxglove, with many of the flowers of Summer still upon us in addition to the reds and oranges of the leaves and berries.

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Not the Usual Thursday

Thursday, July 20th 2017

This was not the usual Thursday. Yes, the volunteers came in, yes loads of work was done, but we, the Reserve Managers, were in at 4.15am because the weather was not going to allow for a weekend CES (Constant Effort Site bird ringing). If you read our blogs from the past few weeks you may have picked up on us getting up earlier than normal folk and setting up the mist nets to allow the birds to be collected and therefore the ringing of the birds to begin.

 With schools attending the site there was a busy happy buzz in the Field Centre.

Comments in our visitors book from children today include:

'I had so much fun spotting the birds and walking around.' Callum

'Thanks for the great time at the bird ringing.' Jenish

'I had fun drawing frogs and getting a score of 26 on the quiz which was 2nd.' Rose

The Thursday crew of volunteers were, as always, straight to work carrying out jobs on the reserve. A few clear up jobs from the Foxglove 25 weekend were undertaken.

One of the interesting finds was this Horntail, or Wood Wasp. This is a sizable insect, about 50mm in length. It is not a wasp but a sawfly and is totally harmless despite its threatening appearance.

 These two Horntails were buzzing around our chainsaw sculpturing area from the weekend,

when we spotted one remove the sheath from her ovipositor drill ready to lay her eggs in the pine wood of the newly sculptured mushroom!

Thank you to all the folk that helped with the ringing, and also the excellent work carried out by our regular Thursday volunteers.

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Moths and Other Critters

Wednesday, July 19th 2017

With this warm weather the moth trap gave a bumper haul of over 40 species with a fair few requiring more detailed examination. These are just a few of the delights from today. A male Chevron:

A female Chevron, which is slightly smaller than the male and less colourful:

A Plain Golden Y, which is similar to a Beautiful Golden Y but lacking a few markings:

Less beautiful, but maybe not to its male counterpart, was this biting female Horse Fly. The male incidently is found gathering pollen on various flowers.

There are 3,500 known species of horseflies, of which about 150 live in Europe. The female is the one that folk notice most, mainly because the little devils are sucking their blood. Unlike other blood sucking insects they can be quite painful initially when biting; stabbing with the mouthparts and slicing the skin with scissor-like movements of the finely serrate, knife-like mandibles and smaller maxillae. After capillaries are ruptured, anti-coagulant saliva is pumped out through the hypopharynx, and the blood is lapped up using the labella.

Once they are attached they are less painful, feasting until they have had their fill or until they are swatted off.

Stopping off at the Wetland I could see numerous newt larvae, soon to become an eft or newtlet when they lose their external gills and leave the pond. I am unsure if this is a Palmate or Smooth Newt as we have both species on the reserve (as well as Great Crested Newts) and at this age it's hard to distinguish between them. Its external gills are still clearly present!

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