(29) Blog Posts Made in May 2009

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Redshank chick

Sunday, May 31st 2009

This photo taken by Elizabeth, shows a Redshank chick shortly after it was ringed today on the wet meadow. It has the characteristic long straight bill and long legs even at this early age.

Redshank chick

The numbers of Redshank breeding on farmland are declining due to drainage. For this reason the future of this beautiful bird depends on nature reserves such as Foxglove.

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Foxglove Covert’s first Eco Club meeting

Sunday, May 31st 2009

Foxglove Covert Eco Club had its first meeting today! The group went for a walk along Risedale Beck to see what they could find. The young nature detectives listened to Chiffchaffs, Wood Pigeon and Willow Warbers and spotted birds including a Grey Wagtail and a Treecreeper.

Eco-club

Some of the flowers identified along the route included Crosswort, Stitchwort, Bluebells, Water Avens, Bugle and Northern Marsh Orchids.

There were insects everywhere too. Crane flies, Mayflies and Butterflies all fluttered about the footpaths.
After a quick snack break, the group did some pond dipping. Water snails (some very large), Beetle Larvae, Caddis Fly larvae, Damselfly larvae and Toadpoles all landed in the observation sinks! Large Red Damselflies and Blue-tailed Damselflies were seen whizzing around in the sunshine.

Special thanks go to Elizabeth who has been the driving force behind the Eco Club and who has spent many hours preparing consent forms, worksheets and even an Eco Club diary for everyone in the group. Thank you too to Emma for helping out today and of course to all the children and their parents who have shown such an interest in our reserve.

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Blooming lovely orchids

Saturday, May 30th 2009

The orchids are 'blooming lovely' at the moment. The Northern Marsh Orchids are full out along our verges and the Common Spotted Orchids are just about to open.

Common Spotted Orchids

Pignut is out along the beck and through the woods.

Jack, Debbie and Danielle all came to help today. That meant that the bird feeders got filled, the verges were strimmed and our computer work is up to date!

We had a lot of visitors enjoying the sunshine. Hopefully the weather will stay fine for the first meeting of our Eco club tomorrow.

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New bird feeders

Friday, May 29th 2009

At last our new bird feeders at the lake hide are up and running. This will mean that there will always be some birds to see at the feeding stations. They only need a lick of paint to completely finish them off!

New bird feeders

Another hot day. The Lapwing and Redshank chicks are drawing attention at the wet meadows hide.

Lots of visitors were spotting orchids and generally having a good time at Foxglove.

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One lonely moth

Thursday, May 28th 2009

After a warm day yesterday we had high hopes for the moth trap. Unfortunately the night was quite cold and this morning we only had one lonely moth in our trap.

Poplar Hawkmoth

However it was the very beautiful Poplar Hawkmoth which is on the wing from now to the end of July. The caterpillars of this moth feed on poplars, sallows and willows and it spends the winter as a pupa underground. It is the first we have trapped this year.

Elsewhere we watched as 3 Lapwing chicks were brooded by their mother on the wet meadows. 4 Redshank were wheeling in the air with 2 Oystercatchers and 4 Lapwings.

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Redshank nest on the Wet Meadows

Wednesday, May 27th 2009

There was great excitement at Foxglove today. We knew that the Lapwings had nested on the Wet Meadows but were unaware until today that the Redshank had also been busy. Today Redshank chicks were spotted and one was ringed. This is great news for Foxglove as the Wet Meadows were only finished and flooded at the beginning of the year. These are the fourth set of chicks we have had up there including the Lapwing, Greylag Geese and Moorhen.

Redshank chick

It was volunteer day today. Seven volunteers arrived and proceeded to clear the birch from the scrapes, re-make a small dam, put bark chippings down at the moor gateway and tidy the portacabin. Phew!! Lots of work done - thanks a lot everyone.

The first Northern Marsh Orchids are now in flower along the path sides. Everywhere is looking flowery and profuse.

By way of a PS late in the evening the nest box team ringed 4 Lapwing chicks on the wetland which is another first for the reserve bringing the total of species ringed on site to 74.

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Large Red Damselflies

Tuesday, May 26th 2009

Another hot day. Lots of visitors enjoyed the sunshine as did the Large Red Damselflies which were out in force, laying eggs at the lake. This picture by Danielle Nichol shows this beautiful insect.

Large Red Damselflies

The first Blue-tailed Damselfly was also spotted.

The flowery profusion continues and noticed today were Wood Cranesbill, Lesser Stitchwort, Great Burnet and Herb Bennet.

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Roe Deer fawn and other youngsters

Monday, May 25th 2009

It's been a hot day at Foxglove. The bird ringers were here at 4.15 am this morning! The catch was modest as many birds were still incubating but birds caught included Blackcap, Garden Warbler, Treecreeper and most of the ususal species. A Green Woodpecker was seen on the ground in one of the plantations.

There have been lots of visitors.

This Roe Deer fawn was seen nestled in the grass with the anxious mother close by.

Roe Deer fawnThe mowing and strimming season has arrived! After the lawns were mowed a start was made on keeping our paths clear.

The first Lapwing chicks for the new wetland arrived today; the eggs were cracking early in the day and the recently hatched young will now be running around in the wet margins. Snipe, Redshank and Oystercatcher were seen and a Redstart wsa singing on the woodland fringe.

The proceeds from the Car Boot Sale on Saturday have finally been counted and the magnificent total of £532.67 was achieved. Our thanks go to the many people who helped us in so many different ways.

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Roosting Pipistrelle bat

Sunday, May 24th 2009

Tom and Paul checked some of nest boxes around the reserve today. Sadly, the nest box occupation is no better than last year (which was a poor one). They found half a dozen boxes with Great Tits near to fledging and reported that the Blue Tits are about a week or so behind. They also found 1 Wren nest and 1 Coal Tit nest.

Pipistrelle bat

A surprise find is pictured here. A Pipistrelle bat roosting behind a Wasp nest!

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Bedale car boot sale

Sunday, May 24th 2009

Bedale car boot sale didn't know what hit it this morning when the Foxglove stall arrived. The contents of the van were arranged on 6 tables and spread out on the floor too. Thankfully the rain held off although there were a few odd spots at times. Our stall proved to be a huge success though and the van was almost empty on the way back. Richard (pictured here) was a real star and announced our 'closing down sale' towards the end!

Bedale car boot sale

There are so many people to thank today. Firstly all our Friends and volunteers who donated goods to sell. Secondly, Pat and Sandie who did a sterling job sorting out all of the bric-a-brac last week. Thanks also to everyone who helped with loading and unloading the van, selling (Sylvia, Jean, John, Ray, Beryl and Emma excelled!) and clearing away. Finally, we must thank Elizabeth for covering today and Jack and Jill for filling all of the bird feeders. We are extremely grateful. Same time next week?

The money raised has still not been counted but is likely to be in the region of £500 which is absolutely fantastic and £200 more than was raised last time!!

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Honey Bee colony news

Saturday, May 23rd 2009

The Honey Bees from the observation hive were the cause of excitement today. Jack noticed them congregating on the platform at the end of their tunnel. David, the beekeeper who tends to them, confirmed that a swarm was imminent.

David, the beekeeper

The colony has survived the winter and is thriving however, there were far too many bees for the size of the frame. A new Queen cell had been laid and our old Queen bee (who is 3 years old) would have been off to pastures new. David and Peter from Richmondshire Beekeeping Society came to remove a third of the bees to free up some space and to re-mark the Queen bee. She now has a new dab of white paint.

Meanwhile, a huge van was loaded with bric-a-brac ready for the car boot sale at Bedale tomorrow. We aim to set our stall up at 6am, please come along and help if you wish! Alternatively, you could come later and treat yourself to a new hat stand or kitchen sink (well a bathroom one)!

The roof on our new workshop is now complete. The next step will be the removal of the scaffolding and the installation of windows and doors. We are looking forward to having a weather proof workshop to work in over the winter months.

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Risedale Beck floods

Friday, May 22nd 2009

Today we had some really heavy rain showers. As you can see Risedale Beck really floods up and the muddy water was really rushing along this afternoon.

Risedale Beck

The students from Askham Bryan came to find out about surveying for plants and fungi. Despite the rain we went to three different habitats - the heathland, the beck and the moorland. They found plenty of fungi in the wet undergrowth, including Fairies' Bonnets, Puff Balls and Sulphur Tufts.

On the moorland they found Milkwort, Lousewort and Tormentil in flower among many others.

Meanwhile we had 8 people from the Trefoil Guild who had come for a guided walk. They were led around the Discovery Trail and enjoyed their visit even if they did need rain coats.

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Our new workshop

Friday, May 22nd 2009

After a long wait things are progressing on our new workshop.

New workshop

This week the contractors turned up and in the last three days have put up the roof trusses and applied the first layer of felt. We look forward to the time when it's all finished and ready for business!

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Scalloped Hazel moth

Wednesday, May 20th 2009

This morning's moth catch was very poor. We only had 5 moths in our trap, including Scalloped Hazel, pictured here, and Barred Umber.

Scalloped Hazel moth

St. Mary's School from Richmond visited with 30 children. They found out about habitats, watched Lapwings from the bird hide, found beetle larvae in the ponds and an ants' nest near the log pile.

We had to sort out a lot of donated things for our boot sale which is happening at Bedale on Saturday 23rd May. All in all a very busy day!

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Bluebells in bloom

Wednesday, May 20th 2009

BluebellsThis bluebell was photographed by Elizabeth.

They are still out all over the Reserve, along with Primroses, Stichwort and Tormentil. Today we found 3 Nerved Sandwort, Heath Milkwort and Cleavers all in flower too.

The Marsh Valerian has both male and female flowers and both can be seen on the wetter areas of the reserve.

Volunteers helped with moving boardwalks on the moor and pruning back along the access road and around the discovery trail.

Pupils from the Dales school topped up a path with woodchip too.

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Darlington & Teesdale Naturalists Field Club

Monday, May 18th 2009

Darlington & Teesdale Naturalists Field Club came for a guided walk around the reserve. They found out about bird ringing, visited the wet meadows and noted all the flowers out at the moment, including Crab Apple, Yellow Pimpernel, Cotton Grass and of course, the Early Purple Orchids. They saw the Oystercatchers and Lapwings on the wet meadows area and the bluebell banks along the Beck.

Blossom

Lots of visitors were around this afternoon despite the heavy showers.

Ox-eye Daisy, Common Vetch and Spearwort join the list of flowers on the reserve.

Mayflies were seen on the wing.

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Rainy day at Foxglove

Saturday, May 16th 2009

The heavy rain didn't stop Ray and Debbie from filling the bird feeders this afternoon! It rained all day. The water containers that John had to keep on filling and transporting to the hide yesterday were full to brimming today but it was too wet to use them!

Ray and Debbie filling the bird feeders

Even the cattle seemed to be fed up of the rain and so they were treated with new mineral and salt blocks and a bucketful of feed.
There was a good sighting of a Water Vole today at the head of the lake and there are several Moorhen chicks on the lake islands too.

Here's hoping for a brighter day tomorrow for the nest box walk around the reserve.

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Richmond Town Hall and back at the reserve

Friday, May 15th 2009

Today we held our coffee morning in Richmond Town Hall. Elizabeth held the fort at the field centre whilst lots of volunteers came to help out serving teas and coffees. We had plenty of home-made cakes and scones to sell as well. After a slow start people started coming in and in the end a good morning was had by all. Sandie's chocolate brownie was a definate highlight!

Meanwhile........ Back at the reserve Tim and the Askham Bryan students took out a couple of redundant bridges from the wet meadows area and re-instated one of them on the middle field where the cattle had plodged up one of the passing places through the newly re-planted hedgeline. Now you won't get muddy boots when you walk across the moor trail! Everyone worked very hard.

Tim and students removing the bridges

Also John came to work on the new feeding platforms again. He needed to mix his cement but was a long way from the water supply. You could mark his trail as he took dustbins (leaking!) filled with water from the field centre in the trailer down to the stone pile to mix up the cement.

Thank you to everyone involved in making today a success.

Tormentil is starting to sprinkle it's yellow flowers across the reserve. This dainty little flower is one of the potentilla or cinquefoil family and flowers right through from now until September. It's bright little flowers are a welcome sight speckling the moorland and all the verges throughout Foxglove.

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New bird feeding platforms

Thursday, May 14th 2009

Here is John preparing one of the new bird feeding platforms by the hide. This will encourage more birds for visitors to watch from the lake hide.

John preparing the bird feeder platform

A gate was put in between the plantation and the middle moor to link up the moor path with the wet meadow. This was done by Len Porter Fencing.

Preparations took place for tomorrows coffee morning at Richmond Town Hall. Please come and support us if you can.

The 3 species of moth trappped last night were Sallow Kitten, Hebrew Character and Ruddy Highflyer.

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Volunteer help

Wednesday, May 13th 2009

There was a lot of activity at Foxglove today. Volunteers helped by putting a gen guard (wire mesh pen) alongside a net ride to keep the deer off the Willow. This will help to create some height along the ride which is ideal for bird ringing. Some of the net rides were pruned too.

Trevor on the quad bike

Jack and Jill cleared some scrub from the back garden to make a lovely clearing. In the photo above you can see Trevor who is quite adept at driving the quad bike!

Colin gave the new boards that he built for the observation hive a lick of paint.

Pupils from the Dales School finished off surfacing a path with woodchip. They have done a brilliant job yet again.

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An introduction to invertebrates

Tuesday, May 12th 2009

Roy Crossley, an Entomologist joined us at Foxglove today to give us an introduction to invertebrates. After an overview of Entomology and a talk about the life cycle and biology of insects some specimens were gathered for identification.

Roy Crossley Entomologist

We learnt about different collecting techniques and how to use a key for identification. The day was a fascinating insight into Entomology and we are very grateful to Roy for spending his time with us.

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Bogbean in flower

Monday, May 11th 2009

This photo taken by Elizabeth shows the Bogbean that has been flowering in the scrapes for some time now.

Bogbean

Bird ringing took place today at Foxglove. It was a CES day (Constant Effort Site). Blackcap, Garden Warblers, Willow Warblers, Great Spotted Woodpeckers and a Treecreeper were amongst the birds processed.

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Otter surveying techniques training

Sunday, May 10th 2009

Today 20 people came to Foxglove for a training day on Otter surveying techniques. This was run for us by Jon Traill of The Yorkshire Wildlife Trust. After a morning in the classroom finding out about footprints, spraint, likely habitat and the differences between Otter, Mink and Water Vole habits we set off after lunch to survey a stretch of Risedale Beck. We walked up the stream through a stretch of non-intervention area and before long were pleased to find fresh footprints in the muddy banks.

Otter dropping

The best find was undoubtedly the Otter spraint, or dropping, pictured above. You can see the fish scales and bones within the dropping. It was found on a typical large rock to the side of the stream and smelt faintly of dried Jasmine tea! Jon told us that we had very good habitat for Otters to use as lying up sites all along the beck. We also saw Bullhead fish eggs on the underneath of a large stone and newly hatched Mayflies basking on the rocks. The rain held off until the end of our walk and everyone had a good day. Thanks must go to Jon and Claire for coming to hold their training day at Foxglove Covert.

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Windswept cattle

Saturday, May 9th 2009

The cattle have been really windswept here today. Although it has been sunny the wind has not stopped blowing.

Windswept cattle

One small tree has been blown down on the access road plantation.

Debbie and Ray came in to help. We have filled all of the bird feeders, checked all of our mink rafts and checked the hides.

New flowers out today are Birdsfoot Trefoil, Thyme-leaved Speedwell and Marsh Valerian.

Blackcap, Reed Bunting, Bullfinch and Moorhen have been seen in the Field Centre garden.

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Visitors from Wavell School

Thursday, May 7th 2009

Pupils from Wavell School walked to Foxglove Covert today to find out about the reserve. They were excellent nature detectives and learnt about pond wildlife, minibeasts and nocturnal animals. A Great Diving Beetle, Toadpoles and Tadpoles were caught from the pond dipping platforms. Craneflies and Pond Skaters were found at the edge of the ponds. In the log pile, a Toad was found amongst all the usual Centipedes, Woodlice, Beetles and Worms! Thank you to Elizabeth who helped with the visit.

Volunteers from the Scots Guards moved wood chippings from the stone pile to where they are needed on the other side of the reserve this afternoon. This help is much appreciated.

Bullfinch, Reed Bunting and Chaffinch were all feeding in the field centre garden today. The Greylag Geese and goslings that were on the lake have moved away now. The Tufted Duck remain and seem to be enjoying the tranquility!

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Everybody working

Wednesday, May 6th 2009

Jack and Jill worked in the field centre garden today mowing and tidying.

Jack and Jill in the field centre garden

Volunteers also helped by re-surfacing paths with wood chippings, dead hedging with brash, checking mink rafts and pruning around the site.

Pupils from the Dales School continued to work on improving a path between the moor and the hide.

We are extremely grateful for all of this help. Thank you everybody!

A hen Pheasant was spotted today with a newly hatched chick sitting on her back! The first frog has developed from a tadpole in the classroom tank. The moth trap is set so fingers crossed for a mild night. We hope to catch some Poplar Hawk Moths this month.

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New hide on the wet meadow

Monday, May 4th 2009

The new hide on the wet meadow area pictured to the left was very popular today. Members of U3A Northallerton and a walking group both enjoyed the view across the new habitat. Oystercatchers, Lapwing, Curlew and Greylag Geese were all present.

Hide on the wet meadow

The Greylag Geese on the lake at the other end of the reserve now have goslings. There were 8 at the last count.

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Birdsong breakfast

Sunday, May 3rd 2009

It was a cold and frosty start at 4.30am for the people attending the birdsong breakfast. However, it was well worth the effort as many species of birds were heard during the dawn chorus, Paul noting a total of 37.

Birdsong breakfast group

On arriving at the Field Centre we were greeted by the calls of Tawny Owl, Woodcock, Snipe, Curlew and Lapwing.

Tony, Tom and John each lead a group around the reserve to listen to the chorus which was slightly quieter than expected. This could be due to the cold weather or maybe a decrease in the number of birds. Time will no doubt tell as we embark on another CES season (Constant Effort Site for bird ringing).

Birdsong identified in the middle of the reserve included Willow Warbler, Wren, Goldcrest, Song Thrush, Great Tit, Black Cap and Great Spotted Woodpecker. Up on the wet meadow Greylag Geese, Curlew, Lapwing and Snipe were all spotted as the morning mist rose from the pools. A Cuckoo was also heard from the hide.

Before enjoying a freshly cooked breakfast, many people took advantage of the opportunity to visit the local Black Grouse lek. The highlight was a close encounter with a Cuckoo as it flew over our heads whilst calling. The Black Grouse were magnificent and were lekking with a pair of geese in their midst; it was a real treat to watch. Thanks to Tony, John and Tom for sharing their knowledge, to Mathew and Sophie for getting there half an hour early to control the parking, to Pat for providing afternoon cover and to everybody for making the time and effort to support us yet again. Sylvia Broadwith was on top form!

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New path through the plantation

Friday, May 1st 2009

The expected rain did not arrive today and although it was very grey it was also warm. Askham Bryan students were here and they finished chipping the new path through the plantation to the bottom of the wet meadows to continue the moor trail. The feeders and hoppers were all filled with seed in preparation for our Birdsong Breakfast which is early on Saturday morning.

Risedale Beck

Crosswort and Black Meddick are out in flower.

Oystercatchers could be heard calling.

The above picture is looking down the bank towards Risedale Beck from the new viewing platform on the wet meadows area.

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