(24) Blog Posts Made in April 2010

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Sunny days

Thursday, April 29th 2010

The last couple of sunny days have had a huge impact on the amount of green we can see around. The tree buds are opening and the Blackthorn is in frothy flower! Remember, the more flowers on the Blackthorn, the more sloes we have in the autumn!

Blackthorn flower

Elsewhere, the work done in the scrapes on Tuesday has worked very well. The water levels have raised up and the water is flowing through the reed bed just as it should.

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Three Johns

Tuesday, April 27th 2010

Well, it's Tuesday again, so it must be volunteer day. There were plenty of helpers to do the various jobs around the reserve. A lot of work was completed in the scrapes.

Here are Richard and John repairing a dam which had fallen into disrepair.

Richard and John repairing a dam

Next we have John (no, not the same John!), making a path through the reed bed. The silt had filled up the channels which allow the water to filter through the ponds and this muddy job was done by cutting the reeds back and digging the mud out of the way.

John clearing a path through the reeds

Here's Colin digging out yet another area to allow the flow of water. A happy man at his work!

Colin digging to allow flow of water

Elswhere Anthony was re-painting the marker posts on our Woodland Trail with a beautiful shade of blue paint and John (Yes, another different one!) and Ann were re-building a dam on the wetland.

Along with some clearing up in the plantation and spare wood taken to the storage area a huge amount was accomplished in the gorgeous sunny weather.

Whilst in the scrapes John (the first one) spotted this male Orage Tip butterfly.

Orange Tip Butterfly

We think it had newly emerged as it was very obliging when it came to having its photo taken! The underside of the wings are a fantastic shade of mottled, mossy green and the tips of his antennae were white.

Orange Tip Butterfly

The close up shows the black and white fringing to the head and how the eyes are green spotted with black.

The Blackthorn is now in flower along the beck and is joined by Ground Ivy through the scrapes.

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Orchids, Bluebells and Bird Cherry

Monday, April 26th 2010

The sunny weather is bringing everything along. The first of the Early Purple Orchids is in flower along with the first Bluebells and the Bird Cherry (below). Dandelions have joined our plants in flower along with Honesty and Forget-me-not.

Bird Cherry

On the moorland the turf is sprinkled with Celandine, Dog Violet and Barren Strawberry, whilst the woodland floor is covered in the nodding heads of Wood Sorrel. The Bird Cherry is yet to be in flower but the buds are hanging with the newly emerged pale green leaves. Another tree which is almost in flower is the Blackthorn. Another few days of this weather and the trees will be frothy with white.

Blackthorn flower

There were a lot of butterflies on the wing today, including Peacock, Small Tortoiseshell and the first Large White. There were plenty of bees buzzing around too.

A Water Vole was seen swimming across from the island in the lake to the shore late in the afternoon.

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Staff from 15 Brigade

Sunday, April 25th 2010

There have been a huge number of visitors to the reserve today.

Bird ringers

There were ten bird ringers and nearly two hundred birds were caught. The highlight of the day had to be the 5 Tawny Owl chicks and two adults which were found nesting in two boxes in the plantation. This is good news for the owls and also for our Adopt-a-box scheme. Tawny Owls had a bad year last year and the amount of nests this year is very promising. You can see Emma, Sue and Martin holding chicks which are aproximately two weeks old.

Also this morning we had a group of 6 staff from 15 Brigade led by Lt. Col. Whitmore. They came to volunteer for the morning and did a huge amount of work clearing some dead gorse from the top of the moorland. The sun was shining although there were a few spots of rain. Everyone was working so hard they hardly noticed!

Whilst up on the moorland visitors heard the 'drumming' of Snipe which were seen swooping through the air, a sign that they are probably nesting there.

All that, and lots of visitors enjoying the Spring air. It's been a busy weekend here at Foxglove!

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Harrogate RSPB group

Sunday, April 25th 2010

Foxglove Covert Eco-Club was a great success again this morning, thanks to Elizabeth. There were plenty of helpers to whom we are very grateful. The children who are all keen naturalists, searched for signs of Water Voles. Holes in pond banks, gnawed rushes, footprints and droppings were all discovered! Sue kindly read out part of the Wind in the Willows story by the beck, as Ratty from this tale is a Water Vole!

Eco-Club

The group also searched for mini beasts in the log pile and found all sorts of invertebrates including centipedes, millipedes and a giant earthworm!

Eco-Club

Members of the Harrogate RSPB group visited too. They enjoyed a guided walk in the sunshine and were lucky to see species such as Goldcrests, Willow Warblers, Lapwing and a Red Kite. The views of the Red Kite were especially significant as the bird has been in the area all week. Some of the group went to observe Black Grouse at another site nearby and were rewarded with some very good close-up views. Wheatear, Curlew, Meadow Pipit, Skylark and Buzzard were also spotted. Volunteers helped with several other tasks which included filling seed feeders, creating habitat piles and gardening.

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Dog Violet

Saturday, April 24th 2010

Dog Violet is the latest flower to show itself on the reserve, there are now fifteen species in bloom. Other sightings this week included a Common Lizard close to the Field Centre and a Red Kite over the wetland.

Dog Violet

Visitors to the site will notice some new information signs around the trails. These have been funded by Yorventure and more will be put in over the next few days.

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Volunteer dam building

Wednesday, April 21st 2010

Volunteer day began with some dam building, an all time favourite!

Dam building

The dams that create header pools to supply some of our ponds were built up again. A bit of digging out was also necessary and soon the pipes were flowing well. Our attention then turned to some trees that needed to be transplanted as they were in the same place as a proposed hide. Afternoon tasks included repairing boardwalks and bridges across the site, more litter picking along the beck and giving some of the waymarker posts a new coat of paint.

Volunteer working

Work also began on improving the path on sections of the moorland trail, much to the amusement of Hector and his friends, see below!

Hector and friends

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Hector and McDuff

Tuesday, April 20th 2010

Hector and McDuff have been enjoying the sunny spells over the last few days. They are very content as you can see from Elizabeth's photographs.

Hector and McDuff

Several Greylag Geese are now nesting around the reserve. Please be considerate by remaining as quiet as possible and keeping dogs on a lead as they are easily disturbed.

Greylag Geese

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New bookshelves

Monday, April 19th 2010

Our new bookshelves have been filled today.

New bookshelves

Next time you visit us you can buy from our selection of wildlife books and Field Study Guides. Happy shopping!

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Spring!

Sunday, April 18th 2010

The sunshine is bringing everything on here at Foxglove. The buds are breaking on the trees, most noticeably on the Hawthorn, Bird Cherry, Rowan and Elder, which, as you can see, is showing flower buds as well.

Elder

The Wood Anemones are in full swing on the banks of the beck, which is also becoming yellow with Primroses. The flower spikes on the Orchids are lengthening but aren't showing colour yet!

The best sighting of the day definitely goes to the Water Vole seen swimming across the lake in front of the bench looking onto the hide. It's good to know these little mammals have survived this past winter and are venturing out and about.

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Bees

Saturday, April 17th 2010

Finally, a splash of colour as the willow catkins develop and provide an important food source for the Bumble Bees which are foraging in substantial numbers; the Foxglove honey bees are also busy gathering willow pollen. The queen is laying eggs in the observation hive and the colony which has survived the long, cold winter is looking healthy.

Willow Catkins

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Tree planting

Thursday, April 15th 2010

The last few trees were planted today by volunteers. Work also continued on the wetland dams and hopefully by tomorrow the water levels will be at their optimum again. Here you can see Colin and Elizabeth repairing one of the boardwalks in the middle of the reserve.

Tree planting

Wood Anemone is now flowering along the banks of Risedale Beck and the first Small Tortoiseshell butterfly of the year was spotted amongst the grasses on the wetland.

Wood Anemone

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Waymarkers and hurdles

Wednesday, April 14th 2010

The work carried out by the Foxglove volunteers is so varied and changes with the seasons. Jobs done by the group of twelve volunteers today included re-siting waymarker posts along the new sections of the red trail.

Volunteers installing posts

This route now avoids the net rides and access to these will be for habitat management and bird ringing only from now on. It is important that all visitors stick to the waymarked paths.

Volunteers installing posts

Many other tasks were completed. A new dam was built in the Scrapes area, a large hopper was moved and three sacks of litter (washed down from the training area) were removed from Risedale Beck.

Meanwhile, Heather and Chris built some wattle panels from the coppiced Hazel stools to block off the old paths. Thank you to all involved, your time and effort is greatly appreciated.

Heather and Chris building wattle panels

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Harrogate MG Club

Monday, April 12th 2010

The sunny weather was enjoyed by many different groups at Foxglove today. Members of the Harrogate MG club travelled across country for a guided walk of the reserve.

Harrogate MG club

The local RSPB York group also enjoyed walking around the site, spotting as many birds as they could.

RSPB York group

Both groups took an interest in the bird ringing which produced in excess of 150 birds including several newly arrived Willow Warblers, some Lesser Redpoll and this male Redstart found during the final net round.

male Redstart

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Birds and butterflies on the wetland

Sunday, April 11th 2010

The Celandines were full open in the sunshine today and the spotted leaves of the Early Purple Orchid were showing small flower spikes.

Celandines

Early Purple Orchid

On the wetland six Lapwing were seen as well as Greylag geese and Mallard.

Flying along the margin between the wetland and the plantation, the first Brimstone butterfly of the year was fluttering along. Unfortunately, it didn't stop still at all, so no photo! The Peacock butterflies were dancing in pairs in the sunshine.

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Natural England visit

Saturday, April 10th 2010

Yesterday we had a another VIP visit to our reserve. Poul Christensen (second from the right), Chairman of Natural England, came along to hear a presentation by Tony on the development of Foxglove and our plans for the future. He then toured the middle of the reserve before coming back for lunch.

Natural England visit

He was very interested to hear from everyone involved here, from Tony and the members of the Management Group to the volunteers and the bird ringers. Rebecca, our contact with Natural England, told him how our entry into the Higher Level Stewardship scheme will enable us to build on that which we have already achieved.
Thanks to Whitfield for the photograph.

Today has been glorious and we have had plenty of visitors enjoying the sunshine. One family counted 93 toads on their walk through the scrapes!

New buds

The buds are unfurling on the Hawthorn, Hazel and Honeysuckle and there are Primroses and Celandines out along the beck. Daisies are beginning to show on the front lawns. The pungent leaves of Wild Garlic are unfurling in all the damp places and the leaves of Cuckoo Pint are popping up all over the place.

Primroses

The first Peacock butterflies were seen flying through the scrapes and alongside the lake yesterday afternoon.

Marsh Tit, Willow Tit, Willow Warbler and Chiffchaff are just some of the birds visitors have been seeing today.

Lastly, Willie has finished laying the new paths. Please respect our net rides by using the new routes.

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Oak Beauty

Thursday, April 8th 2010

It has been a very successful day here in all sorts of ways.

Firstly, this morning, our moth trap yielded 149 moths. There were sixteen species altogether, the most notable was this Oak Beauty, but there was also Mottled Grey, Twin-spotted Quaker and Shoulder Stripe among the many others.

Oak Beauty moth

Later on Colin came to help with re-laying the sluices on the wetland. Four were repaired in the lovely, sunny weather this afternoon.

Then we had a visit from a group who are staying at Low Mill Outdoor Centre. They walked around looking at the Toads and the Greylag Goose on its nest. They were lucky enough to see a newt on the wetland as well.

Cattle in the middle field

They finished their walk watching the cattle on the middle field.

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Cattle return home!

Wednesday, April 7th 2010

Here is the sluice which was altered yesterday. As you can see it is now working properly, with the water coming over the top and the level in the pond behind raised up by 4 inches or so. Success! The rest will be altered over the next couple of weeks.

Sluice

Elizabeth was here today and took this picture of a Stoat on the grassland near to the middle gate to the moorland. It was a lucky shot she managed to get before it ran underneath a log pile.

Stoat

Meanwhile, the big news of the day is that the four cattle have returned to their home at Foxglove. Four of our volunteers came along to the farm where they have been for the last seven weeks to help corral them and get them into Keith's transport for the journey back to the moorland.

Cattle

Tom brought them down to a smaller field with hay on the back of his tractor. Then Kimberley, Jack, and new volunteer Anthony helped to keep them moving ahead whilst Colin and Marion shook buckets of feed to encourage them along.

Cattle

Although Fraser tried once to escape, by jumping out of the pen where he was being held, they all arrived safely back home! Welcome home boys!

Thanks to everyone who helped today, to Keith for transporting them and to Tom and Gillian, who have looked after them for us over the winter.

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Repairing sluices

Tuesday, April 6th 2010

There have been plenty of visitors here today despite the damp weather. This afternoon was particularly busy with families out for a walk.

Mating toads

Up on the wetland this pair of mating Toads were noticible because of the female being white! This was the only photograph we managed to get before they swam away into the depths.

Sluices being repaired

Two of the sluices on the wetland were repaired. Here you can see the problem. Over the winter the water had eroded away beneath the round posts. This meant that the water level was not as high as it should have been.

Michael digging out the posts

Michael came to help and dug the existing posts out and made a place for the new boards. A good, muddy job.

Repaired sluice

Here is the finished, repaired sluice. The water level will need time to reach the top. Tune in tomorrow to see if the water is cascading over the top as it should be!

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Easter bird ringing

Monday, April 5th 2010

Several bird ringers gave up their Easter Sunday to be at Foxglove and they were rewarded with an incredible catch, possibly the best ever! A total of 355 birds was caught including 155 new Lesser Redpolls and significant numbers of Brambling, Reed Bunting, Siskin, Goldcrest and Chaffinch.

Bird ringing

The first Willow Warbler of the year was caught having returned from Africa; it had been ringed here previously. Chiffchaff were also ringed and 8 of the Lesser Redpoll were controls (birds ringed elsewhere by others). At various times throughout the day all of the hooks in the ringing room were taken up as you can see in the photograph.

Bird ringing

A pair of Lesser Redpoll is shown. The male (on the right) has a red breast in addition to the red poll on the crown of its head.

A pair of Lesser Redpoll

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Raindrops

Sunday, April 4th 2010

The raindrops made the tree buds glisten like gems in the brief sunny spell at lunchtime.

Raindrops

Various jobs were carried out today including tidying up the back garden and filling the hoppers ready for bird ringing tomorrow (weather permitting). Thank you to Martin and Elizabeth for all their help (and for the photo Elizabeth)!

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Nesting Greylag

Saturday, April 3rd 2010

It's been a cold, cold day here. No rain - but no sunshine either!

This Greylag Goose, nesting in the scrapes, was keeping her eggs nice and warm this afternoon.

Greylag Goose

Other sightings today include: a tiny Goldcrest seen flitting though the willows around the field centre, Roe Deer near the lake, Great-spotted and Green Woodpeckers, Reed Bunting and Bullfinch in the back garden and Grey Heron and Mallard at the lake.

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New paths

Friday, April 2nd 2010

The rain which was forecast didn't arrive today and, although the wind was blowing, the sun shone all day. Willie has continued his work on the new paths. This one is running down towards the scrapes and is nearly finished.

New paths

Four Roe Deer were seen in the plantation above the lake and outside the field centre Jenny spotted a Weasel running across the road.

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Foxglove mugs

Thursday, April 1st 2010

Are you missing us? Now you don't have to because you can take home an 'I'd rather be at Foxglove Covert' bone china mug for the bargain price of £4.50.

Foxglove mugs

These are now available from the Field Centre, hurry while stocks last!

After last nights thunder and hail storm, it was no surprise to find only four moths in the trap this morning. There were three different species: Yellow Horned, Mottled Grey and Hebrew Character.

The adult learning service group enjoyed exploring along Risedale Beck, searching for signs of Spring. Meanwhile, teachers from Forest School practised their First Aid techniques around the site.

Work is continuing along the discovery trail to re-route the footpaths away from the net rides.

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