(18) Blog Posts Made in January 2011

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Brambling and Redpoll

Monday, January 31st 2011

The bird ringing room was a very busy place again with lots of Brambling, Redpoll (Lesser and Common), Chaffinch, Reed Bunting and Great Spotted Woodpecker amongst the many species caught and ringed today. The trainee ringers seem to be getting younger and younger and some visiting little people were fascinated by seeing the wild birds so close!  320 birds were processed which included 34 new Lesser Redpoll and 22 new Brambling.  A male and a female Chaffinch were retrapped, both 10 years old born in 2001.  This is a very good age for such a small species and it is only through our ringing and recording activities over a prolonged period that we are able to have access to such information.

Bird ringing

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Eco-club Winter Walk

Sunday, January 30th 2011

The sunny weather encouraged lots of our eco-club members out today. The children learned about how animals behave in order to survive the winter months! On a walk around the reserve they kept themselves warm by carrying more logs to the new minibeast wall outside the outdoor classroom. For many it was a first chance to see some of the work that has been carried out lately.

Eco-club make minibeast wall

After refreshments, the children discussed topics such as migration, hibernation and animal behaviour. They also did some birdwatching from the warmth of the activity room and spotted many species of birds such as Bullfinches, Reed bunting and Brambling.

 

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Shrinking Lake!

Saturday, January 29th 2011

Here is a view of the shrinking lake.  As the water level drops the bank sides are being exposed to the air and the islands appear to grow larger.   

Lake and hide

The levels need to drop a little further yet to allow the banks to drain and firm up ready for the March work. 

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Habitat Improvements

Friday, January 28th 2011

Mike and Tony were here all day yesterday and did work on the moorland.  First they took out a redundant little bridge and then carried on with Gorse clearance.

Mike on the moor

Mike (above) and Tony (below) have beeen making a real difference with their mid-week visits.  If any of you out there think that you would also like to be involved helping to maintain Foxglove, please do get in touch with us.  We welcome everybody, regardless of experience, as there are always new things to learn and do. 

Tony clearing up

Meanwhile the Askham Bryan students moved some felled Alder to the new classroom and built a log wall.

Students proudly showing their 'log wall'

This will eventually make a grand habitat for small creatures such as toads, newts, spiders, woodlice and plenty other creepy crawlies. 

At the lake another board was removed from the weir to lower the water level in readiness for the work in March.

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Winter Maintenance

Wednesday, January 26th 2011

There were two sets of winter maintenance tasks being carried out on site today.  In the plantation volunteers trailblazed a new path.  There was a lot of clearing up to be done, but as you can see, they were happy in their work! 

Volunteers at work

Whilst there they discovered a few 7-spot Ladybirds on the trees.  These will have overwintered as adults in the crevices and leaf litter. 

7-spot Ladybird

Meanwhile, in the scrapes, Marie came to do pond clearance.

Marie in the digger

Before Marie got to work the little ponds were almost filled up with vegetation, see below.

Scrapes before work

Here you can see the result - open water in the middle ready for all the new spring growth!

Scrapes after maintenance

 

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Lake Levels

Tuesday, January 25th 2011

Lake showing ice shelf

The levels in the lake have really dropped in the last 24 hours.  You can see the ice shelf here around the island  and there is now three feet of shoreline showing around the edges.  Later in the week we'll be taking another board out to drop the level again.Beautiful ice shapes.

These beautiful icy shapes were all around the little islands.  The sound of the cracking ice could be heard echoing across the lake.

Puffball

This mature Puffball was found in the plantation high on the woodland walk. 

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Record Ringing

Monday, January 24th 2011

With 410 birds being processed today a new record was set for the number of birds caught on the Reserve in one day.  To exceed the very reasonable numbers trapped previously in a single day really does take some doing, but with 12 ringers and the scribe on parade 288 new birds of 17 species were ringed smashing the previous best by a considerable margin.  Nice to see - and very beneficial for the trainees were: 107 Brambling, 47 Lesser Redpolls and 4 Common Redpoll, but there was the inevitable Sparrowhawk and also Nuthatch, Treecreeper, Goldcrest, Goldfinch and Great Spotted Woodpecker.  Among the retraps was a 5 year old Blue Tit, a 6 year old Robin, and two 7 year old Chaffinches!

Meanwhile........ringers and volunteers removed some of the sluice boards from the weir so that the contractors will have a reasonably dry bankside to work on when the extension of the lake begins in March.  This is the first time the water levels have been altered in over 10 years and the boards were not keen to be moved!  As the water gushed out the ice on the surface began to crack and made some very odd sounds indeed.a man releasing the water from the weir

letting the water out

On the way back to the Field Centre, Honeysuckle was seen in leaf; it's a welcome reminder that Spring is on the way - slowly!

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New Outdoor Classroom

Saturday, January 22nd 2011

The new classroom building for school groups to use is now finished. This wooden shelter in the woods between the discovery trail and the moorland will be perfect for allowing school children to study the outdoors whatever the weather! It will be used as a 'science station' and a main focus will be learning about invertebrates as the children discover which minibeasts live in the log pile close by.

Outdoor classroom

Woodland insects and bugs can be taken inside to be examined more closely out of the elements! The classroom is equipped with a table and benches and is linked to the main trails by a boardwalk.

Outdoor classroom table

 

 

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Blue sky and pink sky!

Friday, January 21st 2011

Volunteers have been extremeley busy again on the reserve. Bird feeders were filled, brash was cleared at the lake and even the Field Centre and back garden received some much needed TLC. Thank you to everyone for giving your time.

Lake hides in winter

This photo, taken by Elizabeth this morning, shows how clear the bank is now after all the recent work. The area on the left hand side of this picture will be re-profiled before the spring in order to enhance this habitat for wildlife. This is part of the work funded by Natural England through the HLS (Higher level stewardship contract). A larger water body will benefit many species of wildlife including birds and dragonflies. This work has been carefully planned and many surveys, including an ecological one, have been carried out. Over the next few weeks, the water level will be lowered in preparation for vital groundworks and the banks will be monitored for the presence of Water Vole. The solar panel and mast on the hides are needed to relay live pictures from the hides to the new large screen inside the Field Centre.

Reed and willow

Blue sky at last! The area that is often referred to as the 'scrapes' is very well established now and it is difficult to imagine it as a blank area of mud being carved out by diggers, as it was in the early days of the site's development. Although the lake area is going to be a mess over the next few weeks as the banks are altered, the long term benefits will be huge for both wildlife and visitors. We apologise for any disruption in advance and please bear with us, it will be worth it!

Pink sky

The final wisps of smoke from Mike and Tony's bonfire can be seen here with the much improved view accross to the hide from the new outdoor classroom. The frost has stayed all day and what a beautiful pink sky!

There have been plenty of Bramblings around in the back garden today and Great Spotted Woodpeckers have been seen (and heard) in the back garden along with no less than nine Blackbirds (both male and female)!

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Sun over the Moor

Tuesday, January 18th 2011

Setting sun on the moor

The late afternoon sun was throwing the moorland into shadow when this photo was taken today.  With no wind the air felt quite mild and there was a real sense of spring now that the ice has finally gone from all the hollows. 

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Winter Worky Day

Sunday, January 16th 2011

The wild weather conditions haven't stopped the activity at Foxglove this weekend.  The traditional 'Winter Worky Days' began on Saturday and a team of fifteen people tried out some practical conservation tasks, some for the first time.  Work continued on clearing the area to be flooded in the next few months for the lake project. Lots of Birch and Willow that will be in the way of the new open view from the hide were felled.  It was a struggle to get a bonfire going in the pouring rain but this was no problem for Jack as you can see!

The Winter Worky days are a great way to get lots of fresh air and exercise and are suitable for families and people of all ages. The work carried out makes a huge difference to the reserve and directly benefits both wildlife and visitors. As usual a hot lunch was provided and there were plenty of homemade cakes. A highlight this time was some live music over lunch as Brian kindly played the Northumbrian pipes.

Despite the rain, a good time was had by all! Many thanks to everyone who took part on the day and if you are interested in coming along to the next one it is on Saturday 19th February, check out the events page for details!

Well done everybody, here's to next time! 

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Early Moth and Common Bird’s Nest Fungus

Friday, January 14th 2011

This male Early Moth was one of two resting on the door to the Field Centre this morning.  It flies from dusk and is resident and quite common. These moths have overwintered as pupae just below the ground and are now hatching out and mating. The female of this species is flightless.

Male Early moth

Even though the ice has just melted away, all over the site there are fungi to be seen. Conifer Blueing Bracket Fungus was seen today and this delicate Common Bird's Nest (Crucibulum laeve) is back out on one of our mink rafts in Risedale Beck!

Bird's nest fungus

 

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Music whilst we work

Wednesday, January 12th 2011

 

Sophie and the new gloves

As well as new saw blades we had some new gloves delivered.  They did come in a rather fetching shade of blue, as modelled by Sophie above.  All around the cabins and Field Centre the volunteers cleared away Gorse and Silver Birch. 

Brian on his Northumbria pipes

At lunchtime Brian serenaded us with his Northumbrian pipes. 

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Not seen but there!

Sunday, January 9th 2011

 frozen wetland

At last the sun came out and gave us beautiful views all round.

The wetland looked stunning though you couldn't stay there too long. 

Frozen pond

The smaller birds are feasting well today. The feeders are very active as were two Kestrels.

Although only a Stoat and a Moorhen were seen out and about it appears that they were not alone.

This photo was taken down by the lake. The tracks appear to be those of a  Roe Deer (in the middle), a size 7 footed human (seen wandering around by the Hide), a Fox and seemingly a domestic cat! 

footprints in the snow

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Snow Again!

Saturday, January 8th 2011

 

Moorland track

Foxglove is once again under a covering of snow.  The moorland track was covered by mid-morning and the snow has continued all day with temperatures well below freezing.

In spite of this Trevor and Darryl continued their work on the Outdoor Classroom in the woods.

Trevor and Darryl at work

You can see them installing the noggins for the roof timbers. 

Reed Bunting on feeder

The birds have made good use of our feeders.  This Reed Bunting was just outside of the office window!

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Askham Bryan

Friday, January 7th 2011

 

Askham Bryan students at work

The Askham Bryan students, under the tutelage of Tim, repaired the potholes in the road and repaired some of the footpaths.  You can see them here, spreading the stone and tamping it down. 

Hazel Bracket

This bracket fungus was seen up on the moorland on Tuesday.  We think it is Hazel Bracket fungus.  If anyone out there knows for sure please let us know. 

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Gorse on the Moorland

Wednesday, January 5th 2011

As the snow and ice have cleared you can see the impact of all the weight on the trees and shrubs.  Here and there branches have been broken and out on the moorland the Gorse has been well and truly flattened.

Volunteers on the moor

This meant that today the ten volunteers who turned up worked out in the windy weather to clear a large area and have a bonfire.  The clouds were scudding across the sky at a fair pace but held off the rain so we could accomplish the task in hand.  Although it was a cold start to the day we were soon warmed through! 

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New Year Ringing

Monday, January 3rd 2011

Although the weather is cold and the skies grey, still some beautiful colours are being displayed around Foxglove.

 It does not take the keenest eye to spot this Yellow Brain fungus, it has been seen in several places around the reserve.

Standing out very vividly against the muted browns and greens of the plants around it, it begins its life bright yellow then changes to a vivid orange as it matures. 

This has been seen on the Gorse bushes but may also be seen on Hazel.  

yellow fungus

This is its mature form and colour.

orange fungus

The two male Sparrowhawks shown below, possibly father and son, were caught together in the same net (very unusual) and photographed by Michaela.  The adult on the left had been caught last July, but the youngster was a new bird hatched in 2010, trapped with several Redwings.  It was a successful result for the first ringing day of 2011.   father and son sparrowhawks

father and son sparrowhawks

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