(24) Blog Posts Made in June 2009

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Double Eco-club

Tuesday, June 30th 2009

It was a very busy weekend which saw not one but two sessions of our Eco-club. Along with Northallerton Wildlife Trust who brought 10 children from their Watch! group there were a lot of children on site. The Watch! group did some pond-dipping whilst Eco-club surveyed the orchids and dissected a buttercup to find out about flower parts.

On Sunday there were another group of people who came with 13 children to have a pond-dipping session.

Also Wensleydale Winers and Diners came along for a walk.

A busy time indeed for Beryl and Elizabeth who volunteered to work at the reserve this weekend.

Working on the new workshop

Today the work continued on our new workshop. You can see here the work to lay in the new cables for the electricity. This work will be continuing all week. By Friday everything should be finished. Hurrah!

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Foxglove on the Boulder Field

Monday, June 29th 2009

Part of the Foxglove team are currently in the extreme north west corner of Scotland and spent today on the boulder field below Clo Mhor, the highest cliffs on the UK mainland.

Sophie with a puffin

The good news is that auk numbers, especially the Guillemots, seem to have rallied after the serious decline of recent years. The weather has been unusually kind allowing easy access to remote seabird colonies. Over 600 birds have neen ringed so far including Red-breasted Merganser, Sandwich, Arctic and Common Terns, Puffin, Razorbill and Guillemot.

Seabirds

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Small Heath butterfly

Saturday, June 27th 2009

Mixed weather at Foxglove today meant that this morning we had about 30 visitors in the glorious sunshine. For most of them it was their first visit.

The Broad-bodied Chaser was seen again on the wet meadows. We are hoping for a good photograph if the sunny weather stays with us. Watch this space!

Kevin came to volunteer and trimmed the hedge along the access road.

Broad-bodied Chaser

Danielle spotted this Small Heath butterfly on the heathland and came today to give us this beautiful picture.

This afternoon Debbie and Sandra filled all the bird feeders ready for the weekend. It rained steadily from mid-afternoon.

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Snape Primary School

Friday, June 26th 2009

7 children from Snape Primary School came to hunt for mini-beasts and do some pond-dipping. Elizabeth came to help and we found all sorts of creatures including toads, frogs, ground beetles, mayflies, spiders, water boatmen and tadpoles. Everyone had a great time in the sunny weather.

children from Snape Primary School

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The Bloodvein Moth

Thursday, June 25th 2009

Bloodvein MothAnother busy, sunny day at Foxglove. The weather last night was perfect for moth trapping and many species were recorded. The one pictured here is the Bloodvein Moth. This is a common resident. The larval foodplants are Docks, Sorrel and Knotgrass and it favours wet ditches, rides and gardens.

Pupils from Cockerton School were here today. They couldn't have picked a better day in terms of weather. The pupils were very enthusiastic and knowledgable about Natural History. They enjoyed pond-dipping, a mini beast safari and a habitat walk. Thanks go to Elizabeth and Ray for helping with the both the school visit and moth identification and to Mary for working in the back garden.

Mimulus is flowering at the weir and Speckled Wood butterflies were seen throughout the reserve today.

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New butterfly to Foxglove

Wednesday, June 24th 2009

This photo taken by Danielle shows the Common Blue Butterfly. Another blue coloured insect spotted today was the Broad-bodied Chaser (Dragonfly), this is a new species to Foxglove and is a coloniser of new ponds and ditches. It was seen on a pool on the wet meadows.

Common Blue Butterfly

Several volunteers came to help out today. A dam was re-built on Risedale Beck to supply one of our ponds with water. The trailer received a new coat of paint and discs were painted and put out on the wet meadow (to act as markers for bird watchers)!

Phil and Adam pulled out invasive Silver Birch saplings from alongside the path to the wet meadow.

The Dales School pupils had a walk and picnic in the beautiful sunshine.

The moth trap is set and we are expecting a good catch if it stays mild.

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Aysgarth Primary School visit

Tuesday, June 23rd 2009

We had a hot day at Foxglove for the Aysgarth Primary School visit. They brought 9 children to do some mini-beast hunting. After a walk along the beck where they found spiders, soldier beetles, ground beetles and broken eggs we hunted the log pile opposite the Field Centre. A big frog was resting in the shade. The children all had a good time .

Aysgarth Primary School pupils

Clive and Bethany came to volunteer today. Clive strimmed around the woodland walk after checking the cattle. Bethany helped out with the school group.

A Ringlet butterfly was seen for the first time this year and Blue-tailed Damselflies were flying through the scrapes.

2 Common Lizards were seen sunning themselves on the wet meadows boardwalk.

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Summer solstice

Monday, June 22nd 2009

Dawn this morning was overcast with lots of midges! Not the best start to the summer solstice. However, the weather improved and it ended up being a glorious day with lots of visitors.

There were 8 bird ringers here and they caught 223 birds, one more than last week! In the photograph you can see Tony and Lesley checking a Greenfinch.

Tony and Lesley checking a Greenfinch.

Elizabeth came to look after the Field Centre, welcome the visitors and make us a new nature table for the children to explore.
The Common Spotted Orchids are well into flower as are the Ragged Robin and Cotton Grass through the scrapes area.

Bird species ringed included the first young Great Spotted Woodpecker, Siskin, Nuthatch, Treecreeper and Goldfinches of the year. Thirty two new Willow Warblers were also caught with productivity being markedly better than in the previous two years.

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Barn Owl nest boxes

Sunday, June 21st 2009

Two new Barn Owl nest boxes were put up today. One of these was kindly donated by Brian Warner, one of our longstanding volunteers and the other one was from Phil Littler of Sculthorpe Moor Community Nature Reserve in Norfolk which was created by the Hawk and Owl Trust.

Barn owl nest boxes

The Hawk and Owl Trust is a national UK charity founded 40 years ago. It is dedicated to conserving owls and other birds of prey in the wild – and increasing knowledge and understanding of them. To find out more about this trust you can pick up one of their leaflets in the Foxglove Field Centre or go to their website: www.hawkandowl.org
This photo was taken by Elizabeth.

Richmond Time Bank held their AGM at the Field Centre today. After lunch they had a guided walk along Risedale Beck. One member of the group had played in Foxglove Covert as a child (before 1970) and remembers seeing crayfish in the beck and 'tickling' trout to catch them and take them to a fish mongers in Richmond!

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Fraser enjoying the sunshine

Saturday, June 20th 2009

A group from Richmond adult learning service came in for a visit and did some pond-dipping today. A highlight was watching a Diving Beetle larvae eat a small fish!

Here is Fraser enjoying one of the few sunny spells! A Small Skipper was sighted today, the first of the year.

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Moth morning success

Friday, June 19th 2009

We had a good haul on moth morning yesterday. There were 46 moths of 20 different species. The species with the highest number was Beautiful Golden Y of which we had 8 moths. Pictured here is a Small Elephant Hawkmoth.

Small Elephant Hawkmoth

10 people from Rushcliffe Country Park came for a guided walk around. Despite the rain they really enjoyed their time here.

Colburn School brought 3 children to do some conservation work. Again, because of the rain, they weren't able to do what had been planned, but nevertheless they had a good time.

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Hard working volunteers

Wednesday, June 17th 2009

It was volunteers day today and we had 9 enthusiastic people who worked hard all day! Apart from strimming the moorland path, cutting back the woodland walk, painting the owl boxes, tidying the seed store and checking mink rafts we also pulled and weeded Silver Birch from the area adjacent to the wet meadows.

As you can see Jill was half hidden behind the trees.

Volunteer Jill

It looks like Jack was really getting stuck in!

Volunteer Jack

We still had time to go onto the fen and identify Marsh Hawkbeard and Mouse-eared Hawkweed which are both out in flower.
The Dales School were here as well and whilst some went on a woodland walk, 6 students did some pond dipping and found a Diving Beetle larva, tadpoles, Stonefly larvae, Water Boatmen and Pond Skaters.

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Great Tit’s nest

Monday, June 15th 2009

Tom took this photo of a typical Great Tit's nest whilst checking the nest boxes this year. Below is a brief report of his findings:

Great Tit's nest

To summarise 2009, the weather was much better on the whole than in previous 2 years, during the critical weeks in April and May. This resulted in an early start to the nesting process. The number of pairs of Great and Blue Tits nesting was down on 2008 but to counter this the survival rate of eggs and chicks was better up to the ringing stage. It was interesting to find five broods of Coal Tit, an increase on 2008 of four, and it will be even more interesting to see if this increase is sustained in 2010!

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CES day 5

Sunday, June 14th 2009

Lots of activity here today. There were 10 bird ringers in for CES day 5 and the Richmond Beekeepers course ran the second session. Of the 222 birds caught the ringing highlight was definitely the second - year male Pied Flycatcher, pictured here.

Male Pied Flycatcher

They are quite uncommon on the reserve. Other species included Kingfisher, Lesser Redpoll, 17 new Bullfinches, Treecreeper, Goldfinch and even three Rooks! The ringers also retrapped a male Chaffinch born in 1998 and first ringed at Foxglove in June 1999. This bird is now 11 years old and it has been caught once every year since it was ringed with the exception of 2001 and 2006 when it was never seen at all. It will probably be the longest lived passerine caught at Foxglove. The longest lived Chaffinch recorded in UK is 12 years so this bird is getting very close to setting a new record!

A hybrid between Wood and Water AvensAlso pictured is a hybrid between Wood and Water Avens. These are in flower all along the banks of Risedale Beck.

From comments overheard the beekeepers have had a really good course with gentle bees and good weather. The beginners were very enthusiastic and raring to acquire their own hives!

The reserve again had dozens of visitors enjoying the beautiful weather. Buzzards were circling overhead on thermals for most of the afternoon.

Elizabeth returned the Foxglove species list today which she has been slaving over for at least a couple of months. The detail involved is significant and having brought the last five years up to date the list of species for the reserve now stands at 1911 - which is fantastic! We are very grateful to her!

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Beekeeping and wild flowers

Saturday, June 13th 2009

Another busy day here today. This morning at 8 o'clock six young men with their Youth Leaders came to transport logs out of one of the middle plantations, where they were not very accessible, to a location near the Field Centre from where they can easily be taken off site. They all worked very hard and managed to take out 100 logs. It was a very hot day for this type of work and we appreciated it very much.

Also the Beekeepers are running their beginners weekend. 21 people who are new to beekeeping turned up with their bee suits to learn how to properly look after these amazing creatures.

Wildflower walk group

In addition another 20 people turned up to take part in a wild flower walk around the whole site. This was supposed to take 2 hours but we ended up carrying on for another hour in the beautiful sunshine. Plants we indentified included - Adder's Tongue Fern, Marsh Cinquefoil, Butterwort, Foxglove, Hawkweed and various orchids. This was run as part of the Flowers of the Dales Festival. Everyone seemed to enjoy their walk and hopefully they learned something new.

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Carillion and Defence Estates volunteers

Saturday, June 13th 2009

Members of staff from Carillion and Defence Estates volunteered to carry out practical conservation tasks at Foxglove today.

The day began with a guided walk around the whole site. Small teams then spread out across the reserve to carry out various tasks.

Carillion and Defence Estates

Work included Bracken slashing on the moor, net ride maintenance, birch pulling and checking mink rafts for prints. Two new Barn Owl boxes were treated with preservative and seed feeders were cleaned and filled too. All of this work is really appreciated and has made a big difference. We would like to thank all those involved for their hard work and especially Kevin who organised the day. Same time next week everyone?

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A swarm at Foxglove

Thursday, June 11th 2009

What a day at Foxglove today! We started the day with the moth trap. After we had over 70 last week there were high hopes for today, but alas, there were only 6 moths in the trap. These did include another Ruddy Highflyer and a beautiful Eyed Hawkmoth (which unfortunately flew away before we got a good picture!). Pictured here is an Angle Shades moth.

Angle Shades moth

Then 3 children from Colburn School came with their teacher to have a look around with a view to doing some conservation work here. They will be coming once a week till the end of term.

Whilst on a habitat walk with them along Risedale Beck Andrew spotted something up in a tree. As you can see, it was a swarm of bees.

After ringing Richmond Beekeepers we found out that it was one of Sandra's hives which had swarmed. This afternoon was spent re-capturing the bees by making them fall into a temporary basket called a skep. We then had to wait to see if the queen had been caught.

Bee hive

As you can see in the second picture the worker bees were congregating around the opening and fanning with their wings. This told the main swarm that the queen was in the basket and so called the rest of them in.

We closed off the paths and left the bees there for an hour or so to see if they would settle. On going back at 4 o'clock there were still some bees not in the skep. Sandra has left them there to be checked on later tonight when all the bees should be in the basket; they will then be gathered up and carried to a new hive.

Bee hive

This has been an exciting day for us at Foxglove as we don't usually see a hive swarm. Everyone who was there felt that they had learned a lot more about the bees and their behaviour thanks to Sandra.

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Another lovely day at Foxglove!

Wednesday, June 10th 2009

10 volunteers came today and the weather luckily kept fine. The group split up and some took an invasive weed from the ponds through the scrapes whilst others slashed bracken beside the wet meadow boardwalk. In the back garden Jack and Jill carried on with their mammoth clearing of undergrowth to open up the garden area. After lunch we did bracken management on the moorland. You can see Colin, Susan, Ray and John taking time out in the shade of a fallen willow!

Colin, Susan, Ray and John

Meanwhile Anne led a guided walk for 18 people from the NHS Retirement Fellowship. Most had not been to Foxglove before and were amazed at what they found here.

The Dales School were here and their students helped prune long branches from the edges of the paths along the beck.

Sheep's Sorrel, Lesser Stitchwort, Changing Forget-me-not and the first Common Poppy are out in flower.

2 Plover chicks were seen with their parents on the wet meadows and another one was on the nest. Chimney Sweeper moths were on the wing through the bracken.

The moth trap was set last thing.

All in all another lovely day at Foxglove!

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Tawny Owl chicks

Monday, June 8th 2009

Tom, Emma and Lesley came across these Tawny Owl chicks whilst checking the nest boxes today.

Tawny Owl chicks

Meanwhile, a team of bird ringers focused their efforts on ringing the Lapwing and Redshank chicks on the Wet Meadows.

The bird ringers then moved onto the wider training area to check more nest boxes.

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Foxglove visitors

Saturday, June 6th 2009

Although the day was rainy and quite cold in comparison to the recent sunny weather, we had 3 sets of visitors who had all come because of the Daily Telegraph article back in April! I'm pleased to say they all said the reserve was beautiful and that they would be coming back.

Dog roses, Water Figwort and Brambles are now in flower along with the last of the Primroses which are hanging on into summer. The first Foxgloves are just coming into flower.

A Chimney Sweeper moth was seen near the boardwalk of the wet meadows.

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Adder’s-Tongue Fern

Thursday, June 4th 2009

This is Elizabeth's photo of the Adder's-Tongue Fern which is prolific on the new Wet Meadow. This is good news as it has not been recorded at Foxglove Covert since the early days. It is unusual for a fern in that it is an annual and has but a single leaf with a fertile spore spike.

Adder's-Tongue Fern

The reception and year 1 classes from Hurworth House School came to visit today. They enjoyed learning about all the different habitats. One group were lucky enough to watch the Kingfisher diving for fish from the lake hide. The other group spotted a Common Lizard basking in the sunshine.

Elephant Hawk Moth

After poor moth trapping for much of this year, the warm weather meant that our moth trap was full this morning. A total of over 70 moths and 40 different species was recorded. One of the most spectacular was the Elephant Hawk Moth pictured above. (Photo by Danielle Nichol).

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National Volunteer Week

Wednesday, June 3rd 2009

John took this photo of the Marsh Cinquefoil on the wet Meadow today. This beautiful flower is only common in Northern England and Ireland.

Marsh Cinquefoil

In spite of the intense heat, lots of volunteers turned out to lend a hand today. Strimming, mowing, pruning and painting jobs were all carried out before lunch.

To celebrate National Volunteer Week and to show our appreciation for our volunteers we had a picnic lunch. A real treat was Marion's lime syllabub with fresh fruit salad and home made lavender biscuits (absolutely delicious)!

Meadow Vetchling, Sweet Rocket and Yellow Flag are all out in flower. Up on the moor the cattle were cooling themselves in one of the streams.

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Pair of Kingfishers

Monday, June 1st 2009

Here you can see the pair of Kingfishers that were processed by the bird ringers today. The one on the left is the juvenile and the one on the right is the adult male. Maybe the adult was giving his offspring a fishing lesson! The adult already had a ring and the youngster was ringed before they were released together. Their colours were magnificent in the bright sunshine.

Kingfishers

This photo was taken by Danielle Nichol.

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Tawny Owl chicks

Monday, June 1st 2009

These Tawny Owl chicks were photographed by Tom today when he checked the nest box. The chicks are only around one day old and we hope that the remaining egg may hatch out too.

Tawny Owl chicks

Some of our other nest boxes were checked also and although the overall numbers of breeding birds are down, there were positive findings. Several of the boxes contained 5 or 6 chicks. Many of these were Blue Tit and Great Tit and the chicks were ringed where possible.

Mist netting took place at Foxglove today and amongst the species caught were Kingfisher (a male adult and a juvenile) and a second year male Sparrowhawk.

Luke helped the ringers as part of his Duke of Edinburgh's Award Scheme and Dot came to work in the garden and do some pruning around the site. There were lots of visitors enjoying the sunshine as were the Speckled Wood butterflies which were out in abundance.

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