(17) Blog Posts Made in December 2010

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New Year’s Eve

Friday, December 31st 2010

Oak leaves with new shoots of Honeysuckle

The old Oak leaves twined with the new Honeysuckle shoots seemed a fitting image to post on the last day of this year. 

Looking back on 2010 there has been a huge amount of change on the reserve.  Signing our contract for Higher Level Stewardship with Natural England in March has enabled us to enhance the reserve in a variety of ways.  The most obvious change has been the new hide and bridge at the lake.  Along with the widening of the paths this means that everyone, regardless of ability, can access our beautiful piece of Swaledale. 

The Outdoor Classroom will be another fantastic facility when it is completed, and along with the electronic whiteboard in the classroom will really enhance the experience we can offer to school groups who come here.   The new website has also made a difference in lots of ways.  Everyone seems to like our new look.

The next phase, scheduled for March 2011, is to extend the lake back up the little valley, which will give us a much larger area of open water.  This should be better for the birds, whilst the extended margins will be better for our Water Vole population.  It will also give a greater area for the emergent flora which looks so beautiful all summer.  

We've also said 'Goodbye' to the four Highland cattle this year.  It was sad to see them go, but we no longer needed them to graze our moorland all year long.  Next year we will welcome some new cattle onto the site, but just for a short while in the summer.   Thank you to the farmers who have helped us with the cattle over the years.  It has been much appreciated.

Hector, McGregor, Fraser and McDuff

We take this opportunity to say a BIG THANK YOU to everyone associated with us who has helped in any way this last year.  There are so many people who give their time freely, from the regular volunteers and those who come on the Saturday work days to the people who help with guided walks and school groups.  From the bird ringers, who get here at unearthly hours of the morning to the people who help with fundraising and the coffee mornings. 

We hope you all have a HAPPY NEW YEAR.  See you in 2011.


 

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Observations

Friday, December 31st 2010

The temperature has risen and the thaw has definitely started. 

Risedale Beck

Down on Risedale Beck the water level is high. 

Although there is still snow on the ground there is evidence of new life if you look closely.

Honeysuckle shoots

The Honeysuckle is sending fresh, green shoots out already.

Primrose shoot

In secluded, sheltered areas Primroses are stealing a march on spring......

Hazel catkins

........and the Hazel catkins are ready for the slightest increase in temperature.

There have been quite a few visitors today even though the sun hasn't made an appearance, and there's been a few good wildlife sightings.  This morning six Roe Deer were seen along the Beck.  Brian, one of our volunteers, saw a Stoat outside the front of the Field Centre and a Green Woodpecker in the back garden.   Long-tailed Tits have been frequent visitors to the feeders, as have Bullfinch, Blue Tit and Great Tit.

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Next Years Calendar

Thursday, December 30th 2010

There are a few copies of the Foxglove Covert 2011 calendar left. If you would like to purchase one you can do so at the Field Centre for only £8. If you live further afield and would like to have one sent out then just drop us a line by email or phone and we will gladly post one for an extra £1.50. There are twelve stunning photographs of landscapes and wildlife all taken at your favourite reserve!

Front page of the 2011 calendar

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Winter Volunteer Day

Wednesday, December 29th 2010

All of the clay pads in the Mink rafts were checked today for footprints and luckily none were found. Mink are a threat to Foxglove's Water Vole population and their presence is constantly monitored. There were Otter tracks in the snow by the beck which were a great find. Hopefully, an Otter would help to keep any Mink at bay. The volunteers also made sure that all of the inlets and outlets to the ponds were free from debris. Here are Brian and John checking to see if the water is flowing through the cleared pipes again! A definite 'welly job'!

Checking the pond inflow

Bullet catcher pond inflow

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Christmas Eve

Friday, December 24th 2010

On the last day before Christmas all was quiet on the Foxglove front.  The sun shone from a blue, blue sky and backlit the Phragmites at the scrapes, giving them a golden halo.

Sun shining through the reeds

The birds could be heard flitting through the trees and there was much activity at the feeders.

Blue Tit on feeder

At the lake the trees had an almost autumnal glow about them as the sun caught their tops.

Trees at the lake

Although Foxglove Field Centre is closed Christmas Day and Boxing Day you are still welcome to have a walk around the reserve.  Access is as usual through the barracks and it is likely that the centre will be open for a couple of hours at least on Boxing Day.

Have a lovely Christmas everyone, however you choose to enjoy it.

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Winter Clear-up

Friday, December 24th 2010

There were not one, but two work groups on site today.

Mike and Tony at the lake

Firstly, regular Thursday volunteers Mike and Tony carried on with the clear-up in the area near the tower hide.  They worked on cutting back the Willow and Birch along the edge of the soon to be enlarged lake.

Making a new net ride

Meanwhile some of the bird-ringing team came to help as a net ride was moved away from one of the paths and cut into a very overgrown area up from the lake. 

Graham felling a tree

Graham, who's part of our management group, worked hard felling and logging up the excess Silver Birch.

 It was a beautiful day with mainly blue skies and the odd flurry of snow.  All the bird feeders were filled so that the birds won't go hungry over the Christmas period.  Remember, as well as bird seed and peanuts you can put stale cake, cheese and fruit out onto tables as well.  Along with bacon rinds and fat, the birds will really appreciate all the help you can give them.

Thanks to everyone who turned up today and gave their time. 

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Ice Crystals

Thursday, December 23rd 2010

The ice crystals from yesterday have been beautifully captured by Elizabeth's photo below.Ice crytals

The crystals have not yet melted but have been hidden by a covering of hail and snow this morning. 

On the moorland the trees were in stark contrast to the blue sky.

Tree silhouette on the moor

The birds are very much in evidence at the moment.  As well as Long-tailed Tit, we have been seeing Brambling, Bullfinch and Goldfinch.

A Stoat was also seen at lunchtime. 

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Foxglove Volunteer Christmas Party

Wednesday, December 22nd 2010

Today was a memorable day, started off by the lunar eclipse as shown by John's picture below.

Lunar eclipse

Ten volunteers braved the extreme cold to come and help clear up at the lake.

Volunteers with the bonfire

They were rewarded by the warmth of the bonfire and the most beautiful rime frost which had grown even longer since the weekend.Rime frost

Rime frost on the bench

All this and the volunteer's lunchtime Christmas party as well!

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Frosty Foxglove

Sunday, December 19th 2010

This morning staff at Foxglove were greeted by a cool minus five degrees and a spectacular rime frost over everything.These crystals were formed on the surface of the Scrapes boardwalk. It was a shame to walk on it.

frost crystals

This ice pattern had formed on the shed window.  A bit tricky to photograph but got there in the end!

Ice patterns on glass

These Hawthorn berries look almost good enough to eat!

frosted berries

 As the feeders were filled the birds chattered excitedly and soon came down all around us.

man pulling makeshift sledge in the snow

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Willow Workshop

Sunday, December 19th 2010

The snow that fell last night has once again covered the ground here at Foxglove.

Stream running through snowy trees

That didn't put off the seven people who came to the Willow Workshop.  They all made wreaths and stars with gathered greenery.

Making willow wreaths

Below you can see the beautiful finished creations.  Everyone had a good time, everyone made more than one thing to take home and pleasure was had by all.

Thanks very much to Ann, Wendy and Michaela who helped beforehand to gather in the harvest of natural items we used.  Same time next year everyone? 

finished wreaths on display

 

 

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Welcome!

Friday, December 17th 2010

Ta-dah!  

Welcome to our new website and new-look blog. 

computer screen with red ribbon

Over the past few months Vicky and Jez (below) from Makehay ethical e-media have been working away turning huge amounts of Foxglove information and photographs into the website you can see today.

Vicky and Jez

Here at Foxglove we think it looks wonderful and we're sure you will too!  Have a look around, explore all of our new pages - especially the Interactive Map and the Species List pages.  You can now book events on-line, as well as purchase or re-new your Adopt-a-Box and Friends subscriptions.   There is a whole new section especially for Education, where, again, you can make enquiries on-line.  For all the work that has already been done, there is a lot still to do.  The Gallery will have new albums added and the species list needs photos, but all in all we're sure you will love our new look.

Last night we held our Christmas dinner.  Over fifty people enjoyed a traditional Christmas meal and participated in quizzes, a raffle and a decorated egg competition!  There was also live music from Suzi and Mick Darling, who regaled us with folk songs from around the country.

Enjoying the dinner

Enjoying the festivities

There were lots of entries for the decorated egg competition which was hard fought.  In the end, after a lot of deliberation on the part of Sophie and myself,  there was only one that could win,- Wendy's 'Robin building a nest'.

Robin building a nest competition winner

Second prize was given to Beryl's depiction of two gentlemen bird-ringers.  I wonder who they could be?

Boiled egg bird-ringers

The raffle, ably sold by Stan and Amy, raised £135 on the night.  Thank you to everyone who donated prizes and items for the hampers. 

There was a special award given to the Driver of the Year.  There were three nominees and the vote on the night meant that our Chairman, Col. Guy Deacon, was the worthy winner who walked off with the prize.  (See the post for 9th. December to see why!)

All in all a good night was had by all.  Thank you to everyone who helped make the night a success and who gave their time before the event or on the night.  Thanks as well to everyone for their continued support.  We wouldn't be here without it!

The morning after the night before and the snow is back as if it hadn't been away!

Sunshine on the frozen lake

It's been a busy old day here with the Askham Bryan students clearing up the work left over from Tuesday and contractors coming to look at the lake prior to putting in quotes for the extension work next year.  

Once again, welcome to the new site, we hope you enjoy it!

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Clearance begins!

Wednesday, December 15th 2010

In preparation for the extensive work to be done at the lake next year we started to clear the ground. Sophie

Even the Reserve Managers got in on the act!

Sophie and Marion, along with Richard, showed off their chainsaw skills.

Alder being cut down

This giant Alder would have been in the flooded zone - so it had to go!

Marion with the felled tree

Sorry boys, we got it first!

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Thaw

Saturday, December 11th 2010

Sun shining through the trees

Although the overwhelming sound of today has been the drip, drip of thawing snow and ice, you can see that the ground is still well covered.  The little streams and ditches are running with water but down at the tower hide the lake is still frozen over. 

Whilst walking down to the lake a Woodcock flew past from a nearby thicket, plenty of Brambling have been seen and a visitor reported seeing six Redwing on his walk around.

Earlier this week John took this photo of Bullfinch on one of the feeders.  Long-tailed Tit, Chaffinch, Blackcap and Great Tit were also seen on the feeders today. 

Bullfinch on a feeder

 

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Skis and Help

Thursday, December 9th 2010

Brian looked very fetching as he arrived on skis to do some helping out! Brian arriving on skis

The snow here is still very deep and the access road is treacherous.  It really is suitable only for 4 x wheel drive vehicles, as our chairman Guy gound out this morning when his car slid off the road on his way to visit us.

Car in the ditch

Corporal Rawling and three handsome gentlemen from QRL LAD came to help him out, which took the best part of two hours.

Corporal Rawlings and the men from QRL LAD

Thanks a lot, we really appreciated your help!

With this in mind we have made the decision to cancel the Volunteer Work Day which was to be held on Saturday.  The reserve will still be open but you are advised to walk, ski, sledge or find alternate transport than your car to get here!

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Ladybirds and sledging!

Wednesday, December 8th 2010

Several volunteers came to Foxglove to have a walk around and look at future works. The deep snow meant that coppicing has been put on hold.

Volunteers in the snow

The Kidney-spot ladybirds are now over wintering as adults on the Ash trees where they were seen as pupae earlier in the year. Here you can see John getting some close up shots of them!

Brian pulling the sledges

In the afternoon Brian helped to fill the bird feeders. The usual wheelbarrows and trolley were of no use in the snow but Brian found a brilliant alternative to transport the sacks of grain to the hoppers!

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Cold and Ice

Friday, December 3rd 2010

This morning the sky was luminous and crystal clear.  As the sun rose the whole landscape was suffused in a rosy-pink glow that swept across the countryside. 

Here at Foxglove colours that went previously un-noticed were thrown into relief, as shown by the sere stalks and seed heads of the Phragmites at the reed bed.

Seed head of Phragmites

All around the snow has been moulded into gravity-defying shapes.  The marker posts have wierdly-shaped topknots on them!

Marker post with snowy cap

If you are visiting us over the weekend, please take care on the icy roads.  We are advising that cars be parked on the parade square with your pass displayed through your windscreen.  The walk into the reserve is beautiful and you have a good chance of spotting Roe deer as you walk in. 

We are open as normal and our Christmas cards and calendars will be for sale in the Field Centre.

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Foxglove in the Snow

Thursday, December 2nd 2010

No apologies for yet more snowy pictures.  In the two days since the last post a whole lot more snow has been falling.  Landrovers can manage to get up our track, but cars should park on the parade square.  The two visitors who walked in today were rewarded with spectacular views throughout the reserve.  

Hide and lake in the snow

Here at the lake the warm colour of the hide was glowing in the sunshine.

Seat covered in snow

It was nice to see that Mother Nature has upholstered our new benches!

Up on the wetland the snow was sparkling on the trees and the ponds were not only covered with ice, but with snow as well.

Frozen ponds

The bird feeders were seeing frantic activity after some of them were filled this morning.  This Robin was awaiting his turn on the peanut feeder.

Robin on peanut feeder

The next photo shows the little stream which enters the lake.Snowy stream

Lastly, here's Annie, showing just how heavy the blizzards were this morning when we were out and about.

Annie

 

 

 

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