(17) Blog Posts Made in February 2011

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A day in the life..

Monday, February 28th 2011

With only a few ringers at the reserve today they were kept busy with 239 birds to process.  The stars of the day were over 50 Common and Lesser Redpolls some of which had been ringed previously. 

This photograph of a Song Thrush was taken by a visitor during the morning.  By lunchtime it had become the first of the species ringed on the reserve in 2011.  It was seen on the gatepost just behind the boardwalk to the Wetland Hide.  There is a period of about four months during the winter when there are no Song Thrushes at Foxglove and they are replaced by Fieldfares and Redwing.  This was the first we are aware of that has returned; it was a young bird hatched last year. 

Thrush on a post

More Frogspawn was seen by the first dipping platform on the Scrapes. A Frog can be seen to the top left of the picture. Although they are definitely around, none could be heard croaking.

Frog and Spawn

The feeders outside the Field Centre were very well supported with almost a dozen species seen just outside the kitchen window!  This Marsh Tit was spotted but only briefly.  Seventeen species were ringed including Siskin, Brambling, Reed Bunting, Robin, Goldcrest, Robin, Bullfinch and Wren. Interestingly, exactly 700 new birds have been ringed on the reserve already this year - more than double any previous year at this stage during the last 18.  In 2010 only 166 new birds had been ringed by the end of February - what will be the relevance of such an increase if any?   Perhaps we might see a bumper breeding season!

marsh tit in tree

 

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Eco Club

Sunday, February 27th 2011

This morning Eco Club went hunting "minibeasts".  Even though it is still cold we found millipedes, slugs and ladybirds. 

Eco club

One of the children found a ladybird which we identified as a Striped Ladybird (Myzia oblongoguttata)  This is another new species for the Reserve.

Ladybird

Whilst searching in the leaf litter around the outdoor classroom a hibernating Toad was found.  Once looked at he was covered up again.

The children also watched and listened to the Frogs in the ponds.

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New Buds and New Lake

Saturday, February 26th 2011

All around the buds are starting to break.  Green shoots are showing on the Bird Cherry and pink buds on this Blackthorn.

Blackthorn bud

It won't be long now until the hedgerows are a froth of white Blackthorn blossom!

As the work on the new lake starts on Monday here is a reminder that although the paths around the lake area will be closed you will still be able to access the lake hide via the new bridge.  This should be a great vantage point to follow the progress of the ongoing work to enlarge the pond.  Please bear with us as some of the paths around this area will remain closed for the next few weeks.  This is for your safety as well as ours. 

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First frogspawn

Friday, February 25th 2011

The sunny weather brought out the frogs and there has been serious activity throughout the scrapes all day.  Mating pairs could be heard croaking loudly and frogspawn appeared in many of the ponds.

Frogs

Frogspawn

The lake levels have finally dropped to about ten inches below the weir and the transformation is imminent.  Work begins on Monday so follow the blog to see the story unfold.

Low lake levels

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Coppice nearly done!

Wednesday, February 23rd 2011

Today, in positively spring-like weather, fourteen volunteers worked all day on the Willow coppice.  This area is almost completed now and you will see a big difference as you drive in up our access road.  Jill was here all day, cutting, clearing and dragging.   

Jill clearing up

A well earned tea break!  Left to right - Val, Ann, Brian and Richard with Laddie.

Tea-time!

John managed to take some pictures of the wildlife.  Notably this red frog........

Common Frog

........and these beautiful mushrooms, which were on a dead Gorse branch.

Mushrooms on dead Gorse

Thanks to everyone for all the hard work they put in today. 

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Common Redpoll

Monday, February 21st 2011

254 birds were caught by the bird ringers at Foxglove today. As well as several Common/Mealy Redpoll (Carduelis flammea) like the ones shown here, plenty of Lesser Redpoll (Carduelis cabaret) brightened up the dull, misty day too. The Common Redpoll is slightly larger and is generally paler and greyer than the Lesser Redpoll. Quite often they can be seen in a flock at the base of the large wooden feeder in the back garden behind the Field Centre. The new remote garden camera is zoomed in on their favourite feeding place at the moment so they can be viewed on the large screen in the foyer throughout the day. They also feed on very small seeds from birch, alder and spruce and insects (adults and larvae).

Other species ringed today include Brambling, Chaffinch, Reed bunting and Treecreeper.

Common redpoll

Common redpoll

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Volunteer Work Day

Sunday, February 20th 2011

Sixteen people turned up in the snow for our second work day of this year.  Although the snow was falling early this morning everyone had a smile on their faces and worked really hard on the willow coppice area.

Volunteers at lunchtime

Here below are a selection of images from the day.  Eleanor is one of our youngest volunteers and spent the whole time smiling and working hard.

Eleanor, our youngest volunteer

John, below, started in the thickest part of the coppice and could hardly move at first!

John peeping through the undergrowth

More hard workers on the Willow

Lesley and her husband Steve chopped and sawed their way through many of the thinner stems.

Thank you to everyone who turned out in the snow, your hard work is greatly appreciated.  We hope to see you all next month.

 

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Lots of work.

Saturday, February 19th 2011

There is always plenty of activity at Foxglove and today work was going on all over the site.  Down towards the lake Graham felled three Ash trees along the boundary of the - soon to be excavated - area.  One tree was already dead and the beautiful mossy trunks will be left as habitat piles along the lake edges.  The other two would have been seriously undermined by the work to clear out the water margins.Graham felling the Ash tree at the Lake

Later on he went down to Risedale Beck to clear up a fallen Alder which came down in the water a couple of weeks ago in high winds.  It's a good job his chainsaw wellies had no holes in them as he was plodging in water nearly two feet deep at times! 

Graham at the Beck

The trunks were a beautiful mosaic of yellows, greys, greens and browns.  The rough texture of the bark contrasted nicely with the smooth lichens and the soft green moss.

Moss and Lichen on fallen Ash tree

At the dam the water, at last, is below the top of the weir for the first time since we started to drain the lake! 

No Water coming over the Weir

This is the first time the weir will have been dry since 1997.  All the inflow is being taken out by the water pipe below the dam.  Hopefully we will start to see the level drop even further as we count down the days until the contractor starts work on the 1st March.

In other news - ATM have worked on the bridges on the moorland all day, and Chris from Playscheme has finished off the last piece of boardwalk  to the Outdoor Classroom.  He was here most of the day with two others and finished connecting the walkway to the classroom itself. 

During the week the weather has been very mixed, with some days being very cold and others being positively spring-like, but there have still been plenty of sightings.  Brambling and Redpoll have been much in evidence in the back garden of the Field Centre.  More than a few visitors have seen a the Treecreepers around, and there have also been Siskins, Long-tailed Tits and all of the usual suspects.  Early in the week two Buzzards were seen again and we have a fair idea of the area where they are considering a nest site.  There have been numerous sightings of the Roe Deer, including one which looks pregnant!  The most deer seen in one family group has been four.  Down on the beck Brian has once again found otter spraint!  Last, but not least, the first frog of the year has been spotted out on one of the wet, grassy paths!  


                                                                                                       NEWSFLASH!

Foxglove Covert celebrates its 10th anniversary this year and to celebrate not just this, but also all the work which we have had done during the past year as part of the HLS scheme, we are going to have an Open Day.  We have been planning this for a little while, but today the date was finally agreed. 

                                                Saturday 23rd. July 2011

We are very excited to be marking this special occasion and hope you will all get the date in your diary and come along to support your favourite Local Nature Reserve!

More details will follow in due course so watch this space!


 

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Yorkshire Dales Millennium Trust

Friday, February 18th 2011

Today we had a visit from the Yorkshire Dales Millennium Trust.  Nineteen people from all over the region came for a conference followed by a guided walk after lunch.  They are pictured here as they set off around the site to look at what has been achieved over the last year.

Yorkshire Dales Millennium Trust

As well as our visitors Mike and Tony were here and worked all day on the Willow coppice.  This major winter task is now almost complete.  As we have a volunteer Saturday this weekend we are hoping to take down the last few trees and bring this particular task to a conclusion.  Anyone who would like to come along should please let us know as we will be providing a hot lunch for all those taking part.

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Kind Donation

Thursday, February 17th 2011

Out of the blue Sheila, Judith and Janet (from left to right below) from The Parish, which is the Church and Community Magazine of the Stanwick Group of Churches, visited us to give a donation from their fundraising efforts.  This will be used to directly benefit the younger members of the local community who come to Foxglove to learn about natural history.

Kind donation

Our heartfelt thanks go to the members of this group for their support.  This type of donation is really appreciated and vital to the running of the reserve.

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Sparrowhawk and Yellowhammer

Monday, February 14th 2011

Some of the bird ringers made the most of yesterday's sunshine at a nearby ringing site where this juvenile male Sparrowhawk was caught and ringed.

Sparrowhawk

Other species ringed included Reed bunting, Brambling and this beautiful Yellowhammer.

 Yellowhammer

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First Flowers

Saturday, February 12th 2011

As the sun broke through the clouds bringing warmth to the reserve the long winter silence was broken.  As if on cue the resurgent bird song reminded us that the days are stretching and spring is somewhere on the way. 

ladybirds on a tree trunk

There were five Kidney-Spot ladybirds out and about on the Ash making the most of the sunshine; elsewhere flowers of the early species had started to make an appearance.

After a period of tenacity and patience, as the branches swayed in the breeze, a decent photograph was eventually captured of this very delicate Hazel flower. 

hazel flower

On the Moorland Trail our first Gorse flowers were spotted which the Roe Deer promptly started eating!

gorse flower

 

 

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The Big Plug!

Thursday, February 10th 2011

The water level at the lake has dropped as far as the weir will allow but it is still not low enough for the contractors to access all the areas that will be needed to complete the work.  Unscrewing the 'plug' or gate valve below the dam was the final option and after days spent sourcing a suitable tool Colin and Mike finally managed to turn the large helical gear this morning. 

The water started to flow out with some force - quite an achievement considering that the equipment was first put in place in 1915, has never been maintained, and was last opened when the lake was cleared and drained previously in 1997!!  The water level will be monitored over the next few weeks to make sure we don't drain the lake dry!  Watch this space for regular updates on the doubling in size of the water body and re-profiling of the margins - and to see the final attractive piece being added to the 'easy access' route jigsaw!

Colin and Mike at the Gate Valve

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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A Hive of Activity

Wednesday, February 9th 2011

The new edge to the lake was marked out on the ground today by Neil the designer. This meant that the volunteers could clear any trees and scrub remaining in the way of the future works. A path was cut out through the Blackthorn, this will be part of the new wheelchair friendly path along the side of the lake. Students from the Dales School joined in with the volunteers and helped to cut and drag brash.

Volunteers make a new path

The sunny weather has encouraged these beautiful catkins to flower on this Alder and a Toad was seen by the lake.

Alder catkins

 

 

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Owl Boxes

Monday, February 7th 2011

The stormy weather put a stop to any bird-ringing activity this weekend so some of the bird-ringers made use of their time by putting up several new owl boxes. Some of these are at Foxglove and  some are out on the wider training area. A few of the boxes are made from old ammunition containers like the one shown here! They should be used by Tawny owls who will be seeking them out over the next few weeks.

Owl boxes

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Stormy Foxglove

Saturday, February 5th 2011

The high winds and rain haven't stopped at all today.  Risedale Beck is flowing very high and fast with muddy water from the up on the moors;  the wind has had an impact as well.   This tree has been  blown over and luckily went down across the beck instead of the path.  The roots have been snapped off entirely!

Fallen tree across the Beck

When the beck is in flood like this the water can move quite large rocks and stones and our little trout pools get washed away and re-made elsewhere along the stream.

Water racing along the Beck

 

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Lake work

Friday, February 4th 2011

Foxglove has been very busy this week!  On Tuesday nine volunteers completed a huge amount of work on the Willow coppice.  They were helped in part by the students from the Dales School who helped to clear up the brash. 

Yesterday another board was taken away from the weir and this morning the last one was removed.  The lake is now at the lowest level it has been since the Reserve was created!

Last board being removed

As you can see below the island is 'high and dry' and the banks are completely exposed.  Hopefully, the next three weeks will see the muddy sides draining and firming up somewhat prior to the lake improvements taking place.

Low lake levels

Today Mike and Tony worked away clearing the Blackthorn and Ash from the area at the head of the lake.  Although they are in shadow here the sun did eventually get round to them!

Tony and Mike at work

 

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