(20) Blog Posts Made in August 2010

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Pond Maintenance

Tuesday, August 31st 2010

Volunteers were hard at work carrying out pond maintenance today. This involved removing New Zealand Stone Crop (Crassula helmsii) from some of our ponds. This aquatic creeping perennial was introduced to the UK by aquarists and is now clogging an increasing number of our shallow still waters.

Volunteers working on pond maintenance

Mink raft claysMeanwhile the woodland trails were strimmed and pruned.

After lunch, the mink raft clays were filled with fresh clay. This is a really messy job as you can see but Anne was keen to get stuck in and mix and Anthony impressed us all with his plastering skills! The rafts are a useful way of checking to see if American mink are present on the reserve. The clay pads are checked regularly for mink footprints. This is important as mink are voracious predators and would quickly wipe out our Water Vole population.

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Merlin

Monday, August 30th 2010

Although the high winds meant that Storm petrel ringing was cancelled on Sunday night, the team had a pleasant surprise when this Merlin turned up in one of the mist nets during the day.

Merlin

The Merlin is the UK's smallest bird of prey. Its small size allows it to hover and hang in the breeze whilst out hunting for small birds.

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Storm Petrels

Sunday, August 29th 2010

Some of the Foxglove bird ringing team are in Cape Wrath this weekend to catch and ring Storm petrels.

These beautiful birds are seldom seen as they are pelagic, coming to land only when breeding. They are similar in size to a sparrow and look a bit like a bat when in flight.

Mist net on cliff edge at Cape Wrath

The first photo shows a mist net set up on the cliff edge to catch the birds as they return to land at night time. This process is very tiring as you can imagine as the ringing can only take place during darkness.

Below you can see the tiny webbed feet, large tubular nostrils and white rump that help to distinguish this species.

Storm Petrel

Storm Petrel

The team have had varied success so far. On the first day of their trip, Twite and Meadow pipit were ringed in nearby meadows. On the first night a total of 263 Storm petrels were caught. The second night was less successful however, and the session was abandoned due to stormy weather. There is one night left so fingers crossed for better conditions!

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Eco-Club Go Arty

Saturday, August 28th 2010

Arty activities at the Eco-ClubEco club took on an arty twist today. The group collected leaves, twigs and grasses from the ground to use later in the classroom. Bark rubbings were taken from the trees and boardwalk.

The various textures and colours were used to make giant collages. Thank you to everyone involved for your help and special thanks to Eric for his splendid artwork.

Leaf artwork at the Eco-Club

Leaf artwork at the Eco-Club

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Moorland Flowers

Friday, August 27th 2010

The moorland field is still rich in wildflowers. This Eyebright is in flower almost right across the moorland. This semi-parasitic hairy annual was used as a traditional folk remedy for eye irritation.

Eyebright

This Devil's Bit Scabious is also growing on the moorland. These provide a nectar bar for late flying butterflies, bees and hoverflies.

Devil's Bit Scabious

Here you can see some of our latest technology in use. In the first picture our new underwater camera is being tested out.

Underwater camera being tested

Underwater camera

This is submerged on a pole and videos the underwater wildlife. Images are relayed live to a screen and can be recorded for use later. This was most fun and as you can see, some of the bigger children enjoyed it too!

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Grass of Parnassus

Thursday, August 26th 2010

Volunteers are working hard all of the time for Foxglove (not just on Tuesdays)! Here are Tony and Mike who give lots of their time to help out with all kinds of jobs from stock taking to dam building!

Volunteers Tony & Mike

Today after slashing bracken on the Bluebell bank in the woodland, they filled the large bird feeders (hoppers) and sorted out wood from the old boardwalk so that it may be recycled. Clive filled all of the seed and peanut feeders once again and volunteers from the Youth Justice Service also helped to de-nail the planks of boardwalk. This help is really appreciated and the reserve wouldn't be the same without it.

Grass of Parnassus is out in flower again on the raised fen.

Grass of Parnassus

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Cinnabar Caterpillar

Wednesday, August 25th 2010

Cinnabar caterpillarThis Cinnabar caterpillar was just in the back garden behind the Field Centre. These unmistakable, colourful caterpillars eat the leaves and flowers of Common Ragwort. They rely on the toxins of this wildflower to survive.

Diplolepis nervosa is the name of this spectacular red gall found on a Dog Rose leaf by the main gate to the reserve. This is the smooth form, there is also a spiky one known as the 'sputnik' gall! The gall is made by the grub of a wasp.

Diplolepsis nervosa

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First Signs of Autumn

Tuesday, August 24th 2010

Autumn is starting to show some signs now at Foxglove.

This Oak tree that was planted in the winter of 2009 (as part of the replanting of some of the old plantation) has just a tinge of red at the top.

Oak Tree

The sloes are already out on the Blackthorn and along with the Rowan berries they are adding a welcome splash of colour across the reserve.

Sloes on the Blackthorn

Work continued on the new wheelchair friendly hide and Trevor's team have now begun to work on the footings of the new bridge that will connect this hide to the easy access route.

Wheelchair Friendly Hide

Every glade was teaming with dragonflies, damselflies and butterflies during the sunny spells throughout the day. As well as Red Admiral, Wall Brown, Speckled Wood and Peacock were recorded along the weekly butterfly transect.

Red Admiral Butterfly

The Foxglove volunteers were also hard at work carrying out essential conservation tasks. These included repairing and replacing small sections of boardwalk and cutting back the late summer growth alongside paths.

Volunteers working on the boardwalk

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CES 12

Monday, August 23rd 2010

This beautiful photo taken by Elizabeth shows the sunrise at the weekend on the last day of the CES bird ringing scheme for 2010 at Foxglove. It was taken at around 5.30am as the mist nets were being put up around the site.

Sunrise at Foxglove Covert

The day was successful and amongst the many species caught and ringed were two Redstarts. This year was the third most productive, only 33 birds behind the best ever. At the end of the day the total number of new birds ringed in Foxglove Covert was over 42000!

Redstart

Well done to all of the Swaledale bird ringing team!

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Milkcap

Friday, August 20th 2010

The warm weather and high humidity has been the ideal conditions for fungi and we have seen a huge number appear today.

This milkcap is growing among the thick grass in some of the glades.

Milkcap

This mushroom, called The Blusher, is growing in large numbers amongst the needle litter in the plantation near the wetland.

The Blusher

It is called The Blusher because the white flesh slowly reddens when it gets damaged.

In addition Sulphur Tufts are sending up their yellow-orange clusters and various bracket fungi have appeared along dead tree trunks.

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Comma

Wednesday, August 18th 2010

This beautiful Comma butterfly was spotted on the reserve for the first time this year yesterday. It was also seen today.

Comma Butterfly

The unique ragged outline of this insect distinguishes it from all other butterflies. It usually first appears in March or April however, in warm summers the paler orange form hutchinsoni are produced in early July. These then mate and produce a second brood in August. In the autumn, Commas often feed from overripe fruit such as blackberries.

Comma butterfly

As you can see from the second photo (taken by John), the underside has a clear white crescent marking, hence the name.

There were seventeen species in the moth trap this morning including Gold Spot, Chinese Character and Dun-bar.

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Reed Cutting

Tuesday, August 17th 2010

Sixteen volunteers were here today and accomplished a massive amount of work. A path was cut through to the new bridge area at the tower hide.

Path to the new bridge

The long branches of hawthorn and willow growing through the dead hedge were pruned down to make the view from the new hide better. This meant that the reeds had to be cut as well. As you can see this was no easy matter! In the first photo you can see Richard in the middle of the reed bed, having accessed it by the means of planks from the path.

Volunteers working

Here are Brian and Stan deciding how to do the next spot of cutting (or maybe putting the world to rights!).

By the end of the morning the whole reed bed had been cut down and raked off. Just in time for visitors from Natural England, who came to see how the new work was progressing.
Well done and Thank You everyone!

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Brimstone Butterfly

Monday, August 16th 2010

After a dull start to the day the sun came out and a gorgeous afternoon followed. Through the scrapes there were lots of butterflies dancing and feeding on the flowers. This Purple Loosestrife had Large White, Peacock and Red Admiral butterflies feeding on it. The flowers are a stunning pink and are brightening up the area around the reed beds.

Purple loosestrife

Further through the scrapes this Brimstone butterfly was feeding on Knapweed nectar.

Brimstone Butterfly

One of the many grassy rides which looked beautiful in the dappled sunshine. This one leads to the moorland.

Grassy ride leading to moorland

The cattle haven't featured on the blog for a while, so here's a picture of McDuff. Both he and Hector were standing in the shade flicking flies away with their long tails.

McDuff

On the moorland Harebells and Sneezewort are to be seen everywhere, as is Tormentil, which has flowered since the spring.

Frog
On the raised fen this little frog was clambering around between the long stalks. The buds of Grass of Parnassus are almost open. Another few days of sunny weather and they will be out.

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Bird Lice!

Sunday, August 15th 2010

The weather stayed fine for the eleventh CES bird ringing day. The Constant Effort Site scheme provides valuable trend information on abundance of adults and juveniles, productivity and also adult survival rates for 25 species of common songbird.

Today was the best day in terms of numbers of birds caught and ringed during this session over the last 18 years at Foxglove. For more information of this scheme you can visit the BTO website: www.bto.org

Phil studying distribution of bird lice in the UK

In addition to acquiring a metal ring some of our feathered friends received a bit of pampering from Phil (pictured here)!

As part of his Masters degree in Science at Lincoln University in New Zealand, Phil is studying the distribution of bird lice across the UK.

Checking for bird lice

In the 19th century bird species were intoduced to New Zealand from Britain. Phil's investigation will help to explain why some lice species exist here and not in his home country.

His thesis will provide a small yet important piece of a much greater picture. We wish him luck!

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Rainy Day

Friday, August 13th 2010

A very, very wet day today meant that most of the work was done in the office.

Foxglove flowers and a rainy day

In between showers this photo of the lake shows the last of the Foxglove flowers hanging on. On the left you can see just how much growth the Willows have made on the island. Remember, this little island was coppiced to the ground last January!

There have been a few visitors, even ones who decided to have a picnic, regardless of the rain!

Up on the moorland the cattle ignored the rain, which probably didn't penetrate their shaggy coats, and on the wetland the sheep just carried on eating!

The rain, which is forecast to continue through the night, has meant that our moth trapping evening at Marne Barracks has had to be cancelled.
 

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Jacob Sheep

Thursday, August 12th 2010

Our friendly farmer, Keith, brought back the five Jacob sheep which went to be strimmed (sheared!) just over two weeks ago. As well as the Jacobs he brought us twelve Swaledales as well!

Jacob and Swaledale Sheep

You can see them here getting stuck in to eating our grass and rush. Hopefully they will stay with us for the next few weeks and so help to manage the wetland sward.

Jacob and Swaledale Sheep

Thanks Keith!

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Autumn Update

Wednesday, August 11th 2010

This morning the air was decidely crisp and autumnal. The cooler night we had meant that the numbers in the moth trap were lower than of late. Amongst the catch were Sallow, Chevron, Least Yellow Underwing and Antler Moth.

For those of you who may be interested in seeing moths, we are having our yearly moth trapping evening at Marne Barracks this Friday. If you would like to see the traps opened on Saturday morning please get in touch with the office.

Travor working on the walkway

The walkway between the hides is almost finished. Today Trevor installed a line across the little valley to get the position of the footbridge which will connect the boardwalk to the hide. Here you can see him from the base of the hide.

View of the hide

Here is another view from across the valley.

The last photo is of the new Rowan berries. In this little tree the Tufted Vetch is scrambling so far up that the blue and red are combining together to make a beautiful sight.

Rowan Berries

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CES 10

Monday, August 9th 2010

On Sunday there were twelve bird ringers working to record the birds caught in the mist nets. Of these there were six ladies, which is something of a record for Foxglove!

Bird ringing

In the eighteen years which Foxglove has been involved in the Constant Effort Site scheme run by the BTO this was the second best CES session 10 we have had. There were 312 birds processed during the day. Twenty two species including juvenile Siskins, Bullfinch, Treecreeper and even a Moorhen were amongst the birds caught.

All in all, a very successful day!

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Unusual Bogbean

Friday, August 6th 2010

The reserve is looking wonderful with the fullness that summer brings. Everywhere you look the flowers are filling up the spaces. The grasses are ripening and adding their tall, waving stems to the whole.

Bogbean Flower

Up on the moorland the orchids are just about over but this Bogbean flower stood out because it is well outside its flowering time of May to June. It also has six petals instead of five! Although there are a lot of Bogbean leaves on the raised fen we don't usually see many flowers so this one is to be remarked on.

Regular readers might recall that earlier this year the volunteers did a lot of work on a little meadow in the scrapes area. It was very overshadowed by a huge number of Silver Birch. I'm pleased to say that it is now a riot of colour. Among the plants in flower are Agrimony, Knapweed, Tormentil and Soft Rush. This photo is of the seed capsule of Agrimony. The hairy stems were catching the low sunshine this morning.

The seed capsule of Agrimony

Two Roe Deer were seen in the Larch plantation this morning and in the damp grass tiny froglets were hoppng everywhere!

This beautiful little moth goes by the name of Argyresthia brockeela and, although it is only 1cm long, it caught the light with a metallic, pale blue sheen.

Argyresthia brockeela moth

It was one of the thirty four species in our trap yesterday. Antler Moth, Chevron, Brimstone, Muslin Footman, Bird-cherry Ermine and Garden Carpet were amongst the others which were caught and recorded.

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Work on the New Hide

Wednesday, August 4th 2010

Both of the contractors who are busy doing work on site were here today. At the new hide Trevor and his team were busy putting finishing touches to the inside and starting the boardwalk which joins the two hides together.

Work on the new hide

Meanwhile, near the middle moorland gate, Steve and his team were starting to install the bridge which will connect the outdoor classroom to the main paths.

Steve and team installing the bridge

It is very exciting to see all this work happening on our reserve. By the end of the year there will have been many changes.

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