(16) Blog Posts Made in March 2009

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Maintenance around the reserve

Tuesday, March 31st 2009

Farmer Keith collected the corral today and left us with a circular feeder for the cattle. This will ensure that the 4 boys don't waste the extra food we are giving them by trampling in it.

Adam and Carl are here for the next two weeks doing maintenance on all of our net rides. They are pollarding the willow and hawthorn. The cut branches are put straight through a chipper which scatters the chippings through the trees. These will soon rot down and add to the soil structure.

Mary came to weed the garden and plant some new things on our scree. Hopefully the back garden will be looking more colourful by the summer.

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The Hawfinch

Monday, March 30th 2009

There was great excitement at Foxglove this morning as a Hawfinch was caught during our bird ringing session. This bird, pictured below, is uncommon and it is only the second time it has been seen on the reserve, the last time being 15 years ago. The bird was a second year female. Hawfinches live on seeds and berries cracking cherry stones and the seeds of hornbeam. You just have to look at the size of the beak to see that it has impressive 'cracking' power!

The Hawfinch

Other species caught by the ringers included Brambling, Lesser Redpoll, Reed Bunting and Siskin. The first Chiffchaffs of the year were also netted.

Elsewhere around the reserve there were plenty of visitors enjoying the warm afternoon. There were greylag geese on the lake and mallards on the wet meadows. Celandines and primroses continue to give a golden glow to the banks of the beck.

The discovery trail numbers have been given a fresh coat of paint so everything looks fresh for the spring.

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Cold weather visitors

Sunday, March 29th 2009

In spite of the cold weather around 20 visitors came to Foxglove today. Around half of these were visiting Foxglove for the first time and we hope they enjoyed their visit and return soon.

Roe deer

This photo shows one of the group of 3 roe deer that are sighted daily on the reserve.

A highlight today was finding fresh water vole prints on a mink raft in the scrapes. A clear sign that they are becoming more active after a lazy winter.

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Dismantling the corral

Saturday, March 28th 2009

Phil, Hannah and Jack helped to dismantle the corral today much to the amusement of the four highland cattle.

Hector, McGregor, Fraser and McDuff

Hector, McGregor, Fraser and McDuff were further entertained by the gorse flailing carried out by Adam on the middle section of the moor! This will increase their grazing and they seemed to appreciate the results immediately!

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A busy day at Foxglove

Friday, March 27th 2009

It was a busy day today. Willie has been working on our road re-surfacing all day and has also stoned the new quad track just inside the front gates. Meanwhile the taxidermist visited us and did some work on the exhibits inside the interactive panel in the activity classroom. This meant that the whole panel had to come down off the wall, so we took the opportunity to replace some of the perspex windows with clean, new ones. It's all looking as good as new now.

Askham Bryan students were here today and worked with Sophie to re-site the electric fence which goes across the moorland area. The cattle are excluded from the wet meadows area of the moor until it has settled for a year, but we have managed to place the fence just outside of this to give them access to as much of their former ground as possible.

Spring Hill School brought 6 students today. This was their second visit this year. In January they cleared brash from the felling at the assault course area. Marion took them to see how that now looked with the new trees planted there. They then re-chipped the path to the top moor gate. Everyone took turns doing the different jobs and worked very hard. After lunch they had a walk along Risedale beck before going back to school.

Keith and the Vet visited this afternooon to check the cattle were alright after their injections on Monday. They were pronounced fit and well. The corral will be taken down tomorrow afternoon.

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Help from C Company of the Scots Guards

Thursday, March 26th 2009

Another sunny day at Foxglove. Willie continued to re-surface the access road. Chris and Heather came in to volunteer today. Chris and Sophie chainsawed the last of the gorse and hawthorn from the wet meadows, whilst Heather cleared up and did some pruning along the paths.

Lee, Kenny and Corrie from C Company of the Scots Guards

This afternoon Lee, Kenny and Corrie from C Company of the Scots Guards came to help us. They cleared up the last of the winter silage that the cattle hadn't eaten. Then they helped clear up gorse and hawthorn on the wet meadows.

The cattle were fed in the corral again in preparation for the vets visit tomorrow.

A peacock butterfly was seen for the first time this year.

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Pupils from the Dales school

Wednesday, March 25th 2009

Despite disruption due to the re-surfacing of the access road, Foxglove was a hive of activity today. Pupils from the Dales school can be seen here hard at work doing some re-surfacing themselves! Wood chippings were spread on the path leading to the wet meadow.

Pupils from the Dales school

Volunteers helped out today with filling bird feeders, painting waymarker posts and clearing away waste sileage from the moor. As ever we are extremely grateful for all of this help and could not manage without it.

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Growing tadpoles

Tuesday, March 24th 2009

The tadpoles in the classroom tank are growing by the day as you can see in the photo. At this rate they will be frogs before Easter!

Tadpole

The highland cattle were wormed today and all had their TB injections. Thanks to Keith and Audrey for ensuring that this went smoothly! The vet will return on Thursday to check the cattle for any reactions to their vaccinations.

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Buds and Twigs walk

Monday, March 23rd 2009

Today has been busy with lots of visitors. Although the weather looked promising the wind got up and the day turned cold. Even so, we had a party of 10 people from Botton Hill community here for a guided walk with Chris, one of our volunteers. They had a good walk around before lunch and then enjoyed watching the birds in the garden from the comfort of the Field Centre as well.

A hollow ash tree above

10 people also turned up for the Buds and Twigs walk. They were well wrapped up for a tour around the reserve learning how to identify our native trees by their winter buds. The hollow ash tree above was creaking in the wind, but was admired by everyone.

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Melsonby Primary School

Saturday, March 21st 2009

36 pupils from Melsonby Primary School came to explore and discover at Foxglove today. The children listened to chiff chaffs, chaffinches and woodpeckers and spotted roe deer and numerous toads. They found caddis fly larvae and sticklebacks whilst pond dipping and centipedes, beetles and milipedes on a mini beast safari. They were also the first school to visit the new wet meadow as part of their 'water cycle' topic. Thank you to Elizabeth and Ray who helped with the pond dipping.

Thank you too to Becky who came and filled our bird feeders today.

The cattle were fed in the corral today to help them get used to the pen before the vet visits on Monday to give them their final TB injections.

The frogspawn in the wet meadow pools has hatched and the young tadpoles are feeding on the remaining jelly.

Toads are still on their travels to their breeding grounds! Please be very careful when driving along the access road and walking on the paths.

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Scots Guards help us

Friday, March 20th 2009

On Wednesday we were joined by Adam, Paul, Chris and Dave from B Company of the Scots Guards who helped us to finish off chipping the huge pile of brash at the stone pile. At last - the stone pile is clear again! The sun was shining on one of the warmest days we've had so far this year.

Adam, Paul, Chris and Dave from B Company of the Scots Guards

Mary came in on the afternoon to prune the fruit trees, weed the scree and generally tidy up in the back garden.

The warm evening on Tuesday was good for our moth trapping and there were 32 moths in the trap on Wednesday morning. The 8 species were Yellow Horned-6, Hebrew Character-2, Pale Brindled Beauty-2, Shoulder Stripe-1, Dotted Border-1, Common Quaker-4, Clouded Drab-7 and Mottled Grey-9.

Today Tim, Mr. Fisher and 7 students from Askham Bryan college finished off the dead hedge in front of the hide. They have made a brilliant job of it and have managed to clear all of the branches which were left over from the felling of the sycamore trees. They also did the last of the tree planting for this season. Hurrah! Well done everyone.

Barren strawberry is in flower on the moorland.

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March Workday

Wednesday, March 18th 2009

Saturday 14th. March saw our last large workday of the winter season. 20 people turned up to chip branches, plant trees and generally have a good time, aided by chicken curry and home made cakes for lunch. A lot of work was completed and it was lovely to welcome some new volunteers to our site. To the left you can see Val and Emma planting Alder buckthorn. Thank you to everyone who attended.

Val and Emma planting Alder buckthorn

Today we have had another 10 volunteers and have at last finished the tree planting in the assault course area! By the end of the week all the new trees should have been planted.

The wet meadow area has now got lots of frog spawn and we have had sightings of lapwing, snipe and curlew. The work on the new hide should be starting on the 14th. April and should make a big difference to viewing the wildlife up there.

The sunny weather is bringing the flowers on now. The primroses have been joined by coltsfoot, dandelions and opposite-leaved golden saxifrage. There are new, fresh green shoots on the larch and honeysuckle. Spring is definately here!

The moth trap has been set tonight as the temperature is warm. Watch this space to see what we manage to catch.

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Tree clearance

Saturday, March 14th 2009

The plantations which were felled over the winter continue to be cleared up. We are chipping all the branches over the next few days. We will be able to top our paths with the chippings and plant new trees into the cleared areas. Once all the trees are planted we will finally come to the end of the winter work.

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Toads

Friday, March 13th 2009

Now that the frogs have finished spawning, the toads have started. All around the reserve they are pairing up and mating. Laying of their spawn should begin in the next few days. You need to watch out when you are walking around as there are toads everywhere!

Toad

A curlew was spotted on our new wet meadow today, getting us off to a good start.

Primroses are now in flower along the hazel coppice on Risedale Beck.

A Yellow Horned moth was found in our moth trap on Wednesday morning.

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Spawning frogs

Sunday, March 8th 2009

The frogs on the reserve have been doing what comes naturally and now masses of frog spawn can be seen around the ponds.

Frogs

Some of the spawn was taken into our indoor display tank, where, due to the warmer conditions, the tadpoles have hatched already, giving a very good close up view of their development to our visitors.

In a few weeks when the weather has warmed up, they will be returned to the wild.

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Welcome to the Foxglove Covert blog

Sunday, March 8th 2009

Hi, and welcome to our new blog.

BirdHere we will be trying to give a weekly update on what's been happening on the reserve with more frequent updates if we can.

We will include the work we have been carrying out and what has been seen around the reserve. Also up and coming events to add to your diary and photographs that have been taken around the site.

The blog won't replace our dedicated website but will compliment it. This can be found at www.foxglovecovert.org.uk. It provides detailed information about the reserve and our work on it, information for visitors, a 'what's on' diary and a picture gallery, containing photographs provided by the staff and the visitors, plus much more.

We hope you enjoy our new blog.

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