(25) Blog Posts Made in May 2010

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Pond-dipping

Sunday, May 30th 2010

Reserve Staff were greeted this morning by a comical display of an extended greylag family.

Greylag family

There were five adults, all told, and thirteen very fine gosling although some were just off to the side.

Today's pond dipping was successful with quite a variety of pondlife being found.

Pond dipping

Diving Beetle larvae

These are just some of the creatures that our intrepid fisherpeople caught: a selection of snails, Water Boatmen, Caddisfly larvae, Water Louse, Damselfly larvae and various beetles, including that amusingly named "the Nightmare Creature" by one of our young men. This is actually a Diving Beetle larvae and is pictured above.

On our return journey a young lady spotted a Common Newt that was sitting just below the water surface where we were able to get a good view.

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Bluebells

Saturday, May 29th 2010

The late sunshine filtering through the coppiced Hazel was shining on that quintessentially English scene of a carpet of Bluebells. These are now covering the banks of Risedale beck with a haze of blue.

The coppiced Hazel

Bluebells

Away from the dappled shade of the beck the air was filled with the honeyed scent of the Hawthorn, whilst out on the moor the coconut scent of the bright yellow Gorse flowers was all around.

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Wetland and Water Scorpion

Thursday, May 27th 2010

Interpretation panelHere is the the completed screen up on the wetland along with the one of the new interpretation panels. This screen has been funded by Natural England and the sign was paid for by Yoreventure. They will make a big difference to people visiting this new habitat which has already brought several new species to the site.

There are hundreds of spider webs across the reserve today, these stood out because they kept their dew drops all day long due to the low temperature. They sparkled like jewels in the grasses!

Spiderwebs

This Water Scorpion was found whilst carrying out pond maintenance in the scrapes area. These carniverous insects catch their prey with their large pincers and suck the insides out! Enjoy your tea!

Water scorpion

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Jacob sheep

Wednesday, May 26th 2010

There were several new additions to the Foxglove family today. These five Jacob sheep have been put onto the wetland in the hope that they might reduce the height of the sward and improve the habitat for different bird species such as Lapwing and Redshank. If you look closely at the pool in front of the them you can see a few Moorhen chicks who were dabbling about in the water!

Jacob sheep

Volunteers have been hard at work today pruning, strimming and cutting back branches from the paths and tracks.

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Zebra spider

Monday, May 24th 2010

The hot weather bought out many invertebrates today. This female Zebra Spider (Salticus scenicus) was found on the ceiling in the bird ringing room along with a male and a tiny spiderling. These are hunting spiders with exceptionally good eyesight, stalking their prey and finally leaping on them!

Zebra spider

Michaela, whose first day it was on weekend duty, photographed this Large Red Damselfly on the border of the woodland close to the wetland hide.

Large Red Damselfly

The net rides were full of butterflies, the Speckled Wood were basking in the glades.

Speckled Wood butterfly

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Early Purple Orchid

Monday, May 24th 2010

A lovely day starts and the cattle are as energetic as usual.

Cattle laying in the grass

Elizabeth found the Bogbean in the back garden pond at the Field Centre. It was struggling for a while after the latest bout of frost but it seems to have picked up again. This lovely flower can also be seen in the scrapes.

Bogbean

This beautiful Early Purple Orchid is out now and looking very graceful with its nineteen companions.

Early Purple Orchid

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Burneston Primary School

Saturday, May 22nd 2010

On the hottest day we've had so far Burneston Primary School came to identify plants, animals and mini-beasts using keys and charts. They worked hard and found a variety of creatures in the ponds and in the undergrowth.

Insect feeding on the dandelion nectar

This beautiful insect was feeding on the Dandelion nectar.

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Beaver Scouts visit

Friday, May 21st 2010

Here is a 'Beaver dam' at Foxglove! This is a group from 1st Richmond Beaver Scouts who came to do some pond-dipping this evening!

1st Richmond Beaver Scouts

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Trevor on the wetland

Thursday, May 20th 2010

There was lots of work going on at Foxglove today. Trevor and his team were busy putting the boards on the new hide screen.

Trevor installing boards on the new hide screen

Children from Kell Bank Primary School worked hard on their poetry, mini-beasting and pond-dipping.

And this spider had worked hard to build its funnel web within the dead seed head of a stem of Cow Parsley.

Spider building its funnel web

Lastly, this Apple blossom which looks very beautiful in Elizabeth's picture!

Apple blossom

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Golden Plover chicks

Thursday, May 20th 2010

Visiting group from the Adult Learning ServiceThe warm weather has encouraged the pondlife out from the depth of the ponds and meant that the pond dipping has been more successful. This group from the Adult Learning Service caught several tadpoles and a damselfly larvae and Stickleback.

Danby Wiske WI enjoyed a guided walk this afternoon and spotted butterflies including Orange tip, Peacock, Small White and Large White. Black Medic has joined the list of plants in flower.

Here is a picture of the screen being built on the wetland. Custom Made Wooden Buildings is the firm that are constructing this and when complete it will prevent disturbance to the wildlife as people approach the hide.

Screen being built

Finally, these Golden Plover chicks were ringed out on the training area yesterday.

Golden Plover chicks

Golden Plover chick

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Volunteers work hard

Wednesday, May 19th 2010

Today the volunteers worked hard in the glorious sunshine. The stock fence between the wetland and the middle moor field was finished, and is now ready to accept some Jacob sheep which we will borrow from our friendly farmer Keith.

There are more flowers coming out every day. Joining the throng are Ladies mantle, Crosswort, Red Campion, Herb Robert and Thyme-leaved Speedwell.

Dandelion clock

Elizabeth took these photos. The Dandelions are already going to seed, hence this lovely 'clock' and the Bluebells are covering the banks with a blue haze.

Bluebells

There have been lots of butterflies fluttering and mating in the sun.

Trevor has started work on site to install a screen along the boardwalk to the wetland hide. This will ensure that people walking along the boardwalk will not disturb wildlife on the ponds. Pictures tomorrow!

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Field Marshall Sir John Chapple

Monday, May 17th 2010

Field Marshal Sir John Chapple who opened the Field Centre back in 2002 returned with the Army Ornithological Society today as part of their annual get together.

Field Marshall Sir John Chapple

He was interested to see how the reserve had progressed in the past eight years. The AOS group enjoyed a tour of the training area to view the wildlife and then spent the morning at Foxglove on the second day of the 2010 CES bird ringing scheme.

Bird ringing group

The ringers caught 133 birds which is above average for the time of year but the number of new birds caught was poor by comparison with other CES years.

Bird ringing group

Perhaps the fact that there are more birds in this bird ringing team than there are men has something to do with it! (See photo above). In fact, the wind blowing the nets today had a lot to answer for.

This Green Woodpecker was caught and ringed during the afternoon; they are quite uncommon on the reserve.

Green Woodpecker

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Askham Bryan

Saturday, May 15th 2010

Tim and the college students were here today. They installed the first part of the wire fence dividing the wetland from the rest of the moor. Hopefully the volunteers will finish off the installation next Tuesday. Here you can see Tim preparing the wire to be strained between fence posts.

Tim installing the wire fence

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Carnagill School

Thursday, May 13th 2010

These children from Carnagill School learnt all about habitats, wild flowers, mini-beasts and birds today. They are just part of a group who spent the day here in the sunshine.

Pupils from Carnagill School

This male hunting spider was found during the mini-beast hunt. A splendid specimen!

Male hunting spider

Down along the beck Wild Arum, Water Avens and Greater Stitchwort join the flowers in bloom.

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Spring

Wednesday, May 12th 2010

With each day the reserve is 'greening up'! The leaves are opening out on the trees and more and more flowers are appearing every day when the sun shines. The honey bees from the observation hive are very busy and can be heard buzzing through the glass. Outside the bumble bees are enjoying the Blackthorn flowers.

Daisy

This Daisy was on the front lawn by the Field Centre and the Cuckooflower was by the access road.

Cuckooflower

This flower is so called because it is in bloom when the Cuckoo arrives. It is also known as Lady's Smock or Milk Maids depending on where you are from.

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Stock fence

Tuesday, May 11th 2010

The rain and hail showers were hardly noticed up on the moor as the volunteers were completely focused on the job in hand.

Volunteers installing fence posts

This involved putting in the remaining posts for the stock proof fence between the wetland and moorland. When the fence is complete, you may see some Jacob sheep here on the blog, they will 'strim' the grasses for us and improve the habitat for the wading birds! It was hard work digging holes for the forty posts as you can see here!

Volunteer resting

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Plantlife event

Monday, May 10th 2010

Eleven people from Age Concern in Darlington came to take part in activities run by Kate from Plantlife.

Group from Age Concern Darlington

After a guided walk spotting all the flowers which are out now, they made paper pots for seed sowing and then Kate took them out for another walk. No-one seemed to mind that it was a cold day as they all enjoyed being out and about on the reserve sampling the delights of Hawthorn buds, Chickweed and Wood Sorrel on their way to the lake hide.
Thanks Kate for coming to run this activity for us.

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North East Fungal Study Group visit

Saturday, May 8th 2010

There have been lots of people here at Foxglove today. The North East Fungal Study Group brought eighteen people for a walk around to discover spring fungi. Among their finds were such delights as King Alfred's Cakes, Turkey Tails, Blushing Bracket and Artist's Fungus.

The North East Fungal Study Group

The find of the day for them was however two examples of Mitrophora semilibera, which is an edible morel type mushroom. This was found next to one of the bridges on Risedale beck.

This picture is of a slime mould called Reticularia lycoperdon. It had a nacreous white skin under which were chocolate brown spores.

Reticularia lycoperdon

Tom and Paul, helped by Raymond and Emma, checked around ninety nest boxes. They found that there were clutches of nine to ten eggs in some of them. They were mostly Bluetit, Great Tit and Coal Tit. Remember, if you have sponsored a nest box here you have a chance to visit it next week, when Tom will be taking a walk around them. Please ring or e-mail your box number and book a place if you would like to be included.

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Tadpoles and butterflies!

Friday, May 7th 2010

The sunny weather encouraged all the tadpoles in the wetland pools out to swim. The shallow marginal waters were teeming with thousands of them this afternoon.

Tadpoles

Orange Tip, Peacock and Large White butterflies were everywhere and White-tailed Bumblebees were busy on the Blackthorn flowers.

The leaves of Meadowsweet are to be found through the scrapes and along the edge of the lake, whilst the silvery backs of the Silverweed leaves are shining along the wetland bunds.

Today Askham Bryan students started to install a stock proof fence between the wetland and the area the cattle are kept in. They will continue with this work next week.

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Carnagill School

Thursday, May 6th 2010

Carnagill School brought 55 children today!

Pupils from Carnagill School

Among other things they learned about habitats and mini-beasts. They did some pond-dipping, bird observation and then everyone was a plant detective and hunted for flowers.

Elizabeth helped out all day and found a Palmate Newt during the pond-dipping session.

Palmate Newt

Mike and Tony came to volunteer and painted more of our waymarker posts.

This Common Water Crowfoot is in bloom on the wetland area. It is in at least three of the ponds up there and is a pleasure to see.

Common Water Crowfoot

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Greylag Geese

Wednesday, May 5th 2010

The latest chicks to hatch out at Foxglove are these beautiful Greylag Geese. All six of them were getting to grips with swimming and feeding on the lake in the sunshine.

Greylag Geese

The first Speckled Wood butterfly was seen flitting amongst the canopy of newly unfurled leaves close to the beck.

This group from Mowbray School helped out by replacing old tree tubes on young established trees with spiral protectors.

Group from Mowbray School

They also enjoyed some pond-dipping and found tadpoles, Sticklebacks and Diving Beetle larvae in the scrapes. After lunch they filled bird feeders and did some brashing up in the woodland.
 

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Clearing hay

Tuesday, May 4th 2010

Our volunteers have to find ways of enjoying themselves, - especially when the job today was clearing up trampled hay from where the cattle have been fed!

Volunteers moving the cattle feeder

From the left - John, Val, Hilary, John and Stan finding a novel way of moving the feeder.

Before the hay was cleared the grass and flowers would have had a hard job to grow through. Now we have cleared up the grass can grow unhindered.

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A cold start

Monday, May 3rd 2010

What a cold start to the week! In among the bright sunshine we've had sharp, heavy showers and even a few snow flurries.

These fern fronds look remarkably prehistoric as they unfurl with their emerald mid-ribs and brown, shaggy covering fronds.

Fern fronds

The hanging, white flowers of the Bird Cherry are just opening and in the grass Hairy Bittercress joins the Dog Violets, Celandines and Wood Sorrel.

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Juvenile Siskin

Sunday, May 2nd 2010

This Sedge Warbler was caught at Foxglove today on the first day of the Constant Effort Scheme (CES) ringing programme. The Swaledale Bird Ringing Group have provided data for this scheme, run by the BTO (British Trust for Ornithology), for the past 17 years.

Sedge Warbler

There is ideal habitat for this species at FGC as it breeds in dense vegetation in marshy areas. It is a summer visitor to Britain and will have over wintered in the South of the Sahel.

Juvenile Siskin

The number of birds caught today was 229 which is the third highest total for CES day 1 in the 18 years the group has been participating. A major surprise was this recently fledged Siskin just out of a nest which is the first 2010 juvenile to be seen on the reserve. It is the earliest juvenile Siskin ever to have been recorded at Foxglove.

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Birdsong Breakfast

Saturday, May 1st 2010

Today was the Birdsong Breakfast and it attracted more people than ever before.

Birdsong Breakfast group

Forty five different bird species were heard including Blackcap, Willow Warbler, Goldcrest, Snipe, Curlew and Cuckoo (or was that Paul's whistle?). At least 5 Blackcock were seen displaying at the local lek and the event was rounded off with a 'fat boys' breakfast' kindly provided by Namik at Wathgill.

The bird ringers then visited the training area to check the progress of the Tawny Owl chicks in the boxes. This retrapped adult female delighted Alice whilst its chick was ringed. Born in 2007, this bird raised young in the same nest box in 2009.

Alice with Tawny Owl

Photographed at another nest are Alice and 'Granny Annie' with two recently hatched Tawny Owl chicks.

Alice with Tawny Owl chicks

Annie with Tawny Owl chicks

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