(20) Blog Posts Made in March 2010

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Checking tubes

Wednesday, March 31st 2010

These Greylag Geese up on the wetland didn't mind the rain. They were searching for a nesting spot next to the wetland hide.

Greylag Geese

Our volunteers were busy all day in the mist and rain. They cleared a new path of brash and then ministered to the many trees which are still in tree tubes.

Volunteers working

Even when given the chance to stop because of the rain, they carried on with the job!

Brian working

Brian carried on working all day. Here he is checking yet another tree, or possibly taking a quick five minutes nap!

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Spring flowers

Monday, March 29th 2010

There has been a cold wind all day today but that didn't stop visitors enjoying the sunshine.

The Primroses are starting to open on the newly coppiced Hazel bank and all along the steep banks of the ditches Opposite-leaved Golden Saxifrage is showing its golden flowers.

Primroses

At the back of the field centre this afternoon a tiny Goldcrest, Europe's smallest bird, was seen.

The bird-ringers were busy - but not ringing birds! They were using their sewing skills to mend the fine nets which are used to trap the birds.

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Eco club

Sunday, March 28th 2010

The topic for today's eco-club meeting was 'Signs of Spring'. In spite of the harsh winter weather over recent months there was plenty of evidence. This included Toads, Frogspawn, Primroses, Caterpillars, Spiders and Hazel Catkins.

Elizabeth with Eco-Club

The group saw Greylag Geese on the wetland and a Woodcock in the Scrapes. After break time some algae and green water plants were collected for the tadpoles in the classroom aquarium. A good time was had by all, many thanks to Elizabeth for all her hard work preparing for today and to Anne for helping out.

Eco-Club

Re-routing of certain paths in order to move the main routes away from the net rides began today. Here you can see Tony testing the new stone for the moorland trail. Surfs up!

Tony testing the new stone for the moorland trail

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Osmotherley and Swainby schools

Friday, March 26th 2010

Osmotherley and Swainby Schools came to look at habitats and signs of Spring. They saw Frogs, Toads and a tiny Lizard which had been hiding in the log pile.

School pupils

They listened to Chiffchaffs, Lapwings, Chaffinches and the sound of the water in the beck which was rushing down after the rain.

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Good moth trapping

Thursday, March 25th 2010

The dampness last night was good for our moth trapping this week. There were six species in the trap this morning. We had 3 of this Dotted Border moth, who was beautifully camouflaged on the bench outside. This was joined by 1 x March Moth, 4 x Yellow Horned, 1 x Hebrew Character, 1 x Mottled Grey and 1 x Chestnut.

Dotted Border moth

We'll be trapping now for the rest of the year and the numbers should increase as the weather warms up.

Today we had a visit from Leeming and Londonderry County Primary School and Elizabeth came to help out. Nineteen children between 7 and 10 years old came to learn about habitats and small creatures. You can see them here spotting lots of frogspawn in the scrapes ponds.

Leeming and Londonderry County Primary School pupils

They saw mating Frogs, Toads hopping all over the path to the Wetland, Greylag Geese on the main lake, and lots of little creatures on their walks.

Mating frogs

They were well behaved and asked lots of interesting questions. Everybody had a wonderful time!

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Tree planting

Wednesday, March 24th 2010

Volunteers were hard at work again today at Foxglove. Aspen, Goat Willow, Scots Pine, Douglas Fir and Rowan trees were planted up in the woodland.

Some of the final winter clearance work took place too. There is a saying 'there is no smoke without fire', this has been changed to 'there is no smoke without Jack'! Jack has definately won the volunteer competition of seeing who has the most bonfire holes in their jacket at the end of the winter season - closely followed by Brian and Stan!

Volunteers working in the woodland

Jack and Brian burning brash

Here you can see Jack and Brian burning some brash and John and Fiona planting a tree (above). Students from the Dales School helped by clearing brash too. Other volunteers helped to check the nesting boxes across the site and to make sure that they are all correctly mapped. These are part of the adopt-a-box scheme whereby from only £5 a year you can adopt a bird box. Bat boxes are also available. Pick up a leaflet from the Field Centre or call us if you would like to take part in this fun scheme.

The frogs have gone quiet now but the ponds are full of frog spawn. A few Toads have been spotted making their way to their spawning sites. Over the next few weeks please take extra care when driving up the access road as the Toads will no doubt be crossing! A Woodcock was seen today and there are still a few Brambling to be seen in the back garden.

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Coltsfoot flower

Monday, March 22nd 2010

At last, a flower other than Gorse and Hazel! This Coltsfoot flower was the only one to be seen this morning. This is the first of the Spring flowers this year although there are signs all over of the things to come.

Coltsfoot flower

The leaves of Sorrel, Celandine, Thistle, Primrose and Bluebell are everywhere.

Up on the moorland the plaintiff cry of the Curlew was heard and all the ponds had mounds of frogspawn in them.

Bloodworm

The Bloodworm was found inside a cast of mud in a little ditch by the beck. The dark spots along it are the digestive system. It was originally in the water and was put onto the pale branch for the photo. Don't worry, it went back in the water afterwards!

Today was sunny and bright and there were visitors enjoying their first picnic of the year.

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Frogspawn has hatched

Sunday, March 21st 2010

The frogspawn taken into the classroom for the children to see has hatched! This morning there were hundreds of tiny tadpoles in the tank. Some were free swimming, but most were still attached to the jelly and are only about 6-8mm long.

Tadpoles

In the scrapes there is plenty of spawn, but it will take a while longer before it hatches.

Earlier this week the Askham Bryan students planted some Hazel and Rowan trees which had been kindly donated to the reserve. As the end of March designates a cut-off point for successful tree planting, they have gone into the ground just in time.

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Volunteers work

Wednesday, March 17th 2010

It's been a very busy day! As well as our hard-working volunteers, Forest School were out in the woods finishing off their training for primary school teachers, and the Dales School were here and joined in with the outside work.

Volunteer clearing woodland

We completed a variety of tasks: the woodland clear up, which was started on Saturday, was finished off by Colin, John and Jack. Then Stan, Kimberley, Hilary and new volunteer Mike carried on with last week's work of clearing birch from the path to the Wetland. Ann cleared gorse from around our marker posts and then, as you see here, coppiced Willow on the tiny island in the vole pond.

Island in the vole pond

You can see how clear it is now. Plenty of room for any birds who may want to nest there!

Richard took some metal guards to our storage and then used his chainsaw to cut stumps to ground level.

Colin cleared the intake pipes to all of our ponds, then helped Jack to re-net a bridge which needed repair.

All this and we still had time to see evidence of voles on the Wetland, to watch a pair of Greylag Geese looking for a nesting site, and to hear the first Chiffchaff of the year singing opposite the Field Centre at lunchtime!

All in all - a very productive day!

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Mating frogs and last work day

Sunday, March 14th 2010

The sunshine today meant that the ponds everywhere were rippling with the activity of the frogs! Everywhere you turn there is frogspawn.

Frogspawn

Let's hope that the weather stays warm enough as for the last two years late frosts have devastated our froggy population.

Today was the last of our winter work days of the 2009 -2010 season. Seventeen people gave up their time to help clear up in the woodland. Thanks a lot to everyone who turned up.

Winter work day

On the wetland Lapwings are back and busily staking out their territory. Hopefully they will have the same breeding success that they did last year.

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Dead hedge

Friday, March 12th 2010

On another gloriously sunny day the Askham Bryan students, under the guidance of Tim, built us another beautiful dead hedge. You can see them here as they started to weave the birch brash between the stakes.

Students building a dead hedge

And here is the finished hedge!

Finished dead hedge

The most exciting news is that we saw spawning frogs in the scrapes and just managed to get this photo as proof!

Spawning frogs

Spring is on the way!

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The Hazel stick chair

Thursday, March 11th 2010

The weather is warming up and last night the moth trap was set in the high hopes of attracting some moths. There were only four moths there this morning, this Oak Beauty being the star of the show. This beautiful moth is a resident and would have spent the winter as a pupa underground. His huge feathery antennae are used to find the scent of the female moths.

Oak Beauty moth

Chris came in today to help with some tree felling. He brought in a chair made from the coppiced Hazel sticks from last week. This was made entirely with hand-tools and shows how we can use the cut wood to make furniture that would grace any garden.

Chris with the chair made from coppiced Hazel

Chris and Elizabeth worked all day helping to clear areas of Silver Birch and Willow.

Below you can see Chris on the island in the scrapes coming to the end of coppicing some Willow. This has opened up the view through the scrapes and allowed more light onto the island itself.

Chris coppicing Willow

The coppiced wood will be used to make a dead hedge to protect some newly emerging Willow from the depredations of the Roe Deer.

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Visiting the cattle

Wednesday, March 10th 2010

After a hectic day clearing out more Gorse from the area leading up to the new Wetland, a few volunteers went to visit our Scottish friends out on the training area.

Cattle on the reserve

As you can see, they were very curious as usual and Tom and Gillian have done a wonderful job looking after them through the winter months. They are all in fine fettle and judging by the size of their bellies, have been well fed! They seem to be thoroughly enjoying roaming about on the 130 acre field. McGregor is there too, he is behind Hector and Fraser (on the left). They will return to Foxglove later this month (if they can be caught)!

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The blogs’ 1st. birthday

Monday, March 8th 2010

It is exactly one year today since the blog began! Glancing back over the previous posts it is clear that a great deal has been achieved at Foxglove over the past twelve months. The blog also highlights just how many different people in the community benefit from the reserve, from school and college groups to families and volunteers.

Alice releasing a Blue Tit

Alice releasing a Blue Tit

The bird ringing room was a hive of activity with over three hundred birds processed today. Here you can see Alice releasing a Blue Tit back into the wild after it was ringed. Species ringed include Brambling, Kingfisher, Reed Bunting, Great Spotted Woodpecker and Siskin.

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John, Beryl and Emma

Sunday, March 7th 2010

It is a frantic time at Foxglove as the winter season comes to a close. The remaining clearance work has to be finished before the birds start to nest again.

John, Beryl and Emma clearing Silver Birch

John, Beryl and Emma were helping by thinning out some Silver Birch from behind the Field Centre garden today. John felled the trees with his chainsaw and Emma and Beryl dragged the brash away to the bonfire.

Beryl putting brash on the bonfire

In total five trees were removed making a big difference by the end of the day.

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Askham Bryan and the dead hedge

Saturday, March 6th 2010

Once again the students from Askham Bryan were here with Tim to work on the dead hedge adjacent to the Hazel coppice. Chris explained what they had to do and they all added to the dead hedge which was started by the volunteers on Tuesday. The work completed here this week has made a huge difference to the whole area. Thanks everyone for all your help.

Students from Askham Bryan working on the dead hedge

The sunshine today has meant that the whole week, although cold, has seen blue skies and sunny weather. The bluebell leaves are coming through on the banks of the beck and geese have been seen flying over the reserve.

The clear skies have meant that the nights have been too cold to catch any moths lately. The trap was set earlier this week to no avail.

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Wetland in the sunshine

Friday, March 5th 2010

The newly established Wetland was looking beautiful in the bright sunshine today and although some pools are still iced over there were definite signs of Water Vole activity. This is especially good news after such severe winter weather.

The wetland

Students from Askham Bryan were back today and continued to work on the Hazel coppice and dead hedge.

Students from Askham Bryan working on the coppice

This tiny cup fungus was discovered on top of one of the mink rafts on Risedale Beck. These fruiting bodies were only 5mm in diameter (quarter of an inch in old money)!

Cup fungus

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Final numbers of the ringing group

Thursday, March 4th 2010

Wendy and the group from the Adult Learning Service helped out today by filling the bird feeders with seeds and peanuts. They have been coming to Foxglove for the past few weeks to enhance their knowledge of Natural History.

Wendy and the group from the Adult Learning Service

The final number of birds processed by the Swaledale Ringing Group for 2009 is 12,314. This is the highest annual total of birds caught and recorded by the Foxglove team. Although most of this activity was at Foxglove Covert, ringing also took place at other sites including the wider army training area, Bellflask and Cape Wrath.

It's been another sunny spring day and Elizabeth took this atmospheric picture of the Reedmace at the lake. The fluffy seeds are really shown up by the bakclightling. These seeds are edible, either raw, roasted or ground into flour!

Reedmace

Just for fun, here is a picture of our latest special visitor. Miss Molly was introduced by Ray and proceeded to help with the odd bit of office work! Suffice to say that Tolly was unimpressed and Annie took things in her stride!

Miss Molly

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Chris and the dead hedge

Wednesday, March 3rd 2010

What a glorious day it has been! The sun shone down from a blue, blue sky and we had thirteen volunteers who did sterling work coppicing Hazel on the banks of Risedale Beck.

Chris with the dead hedge

Chris, who is very experienced in all woodland crafts, demonstrated a beautiful dead hedge, which will use up all of the pruned stems.

Here you can see Ann, Heather and Jack weaving in the Hazel withies, and Val on the bank, carrying on with the cutting.
At lunchtime is was sunny enough that we had our first volunteer day picnic in the sunshine!

Volunteers working on the dead hedge

The last photo is of a lovely log pile which is just at the perfect stage of being covered with moss and lichen. A good way to use up all the logs, and a perfect habitat for creatures of all kinds.

Log pile covered in moss

As well as our volunteers, the Dales School were here, and they helped weave twigs into the dead hedge. Forest School also used the Field Centre as the base for the last day of their course.

All in all, a very busy day here,

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Higher Level Stewardship

Tuesday, March 2nd 2010

Today we have an important announcement to do with the future of Foxglove. Today, Monday 1st. March, we have entered into an agreement with Natural England to be part of their Higher Level Stewardship scheme. This scheme assures Foxglove of funding for the next 10 years and will bring massive benefits to the reserve.

Catkins

It also provides a degree of certainty for the future and will mean significant habitat enhancement and expenditure on capital projects, particularly to do with access and education.

We will give you more details as we can and further news can be found in the Spring edition of Undergrowth, which will be published in the next week or so.

As you can imagine this is momentous news for Foxglove as a whole and there will be changes to the reserve, which will start to happen shortly.

As ever, nature marches on, and today has been particularly Spring-like. The Hazel catkins (above) are open and their pollen is spreading on the slighest breeze.

Pussy Willow

The furry buds of the Pussy Willow are emerging from their sheaths and everywhere there are signs of growth. Although the flowers are few at the moment, Gorse and Hazel being the only ones out, there are rosettes of Teasel, Hemp Agrimony and Thistle to see. The pale green hearts of Wood Sorrel are speckling the woodland floor and the spikey leaves of the Bluebells are at last poking through the leaf litter.

Forest School were here again. 6 teachers came to find out about teaching children about nature and the environment. As you see them here Hazel had been showing them how to make wooden book covers from split logs of Silver Birch.

Teachers from Forest School

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