(20) Blog Posts Made in April 2011

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Seeds, Leaves and Buds

Saturday, April 30th 2011

The reserve is full of flowers, leaves and bird song.  During the sunny spells the insects become active.  The spring flowers are still blooming but some, like this Coltsfoot, are nearly ready to release their seeds.

Coltsfoot seed head

The black Ash buds are showing green.

Bursting Ash bud

The  furry, shepherd's crook shape of the fern fronds can be seen in shady areas of the reserve.

Unfurling fern

Hawthorn, Rowan and this small plant of Woodruff are nearly in flower.

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Grasshoppers Galore!

Thursday, April 28th 2011

The Common Field Grasshopper lives on a diet of grass.  As the colder weather arrives in October the adults die, leaving their egg pods in the soil to overwinter and hatch in May.  Today there had been a hatch of tiny grasshoppers about 6 to 8mm in length.  Their wings do not develop until their last moult, but they still have powerful legs and could jump several inches from one place to another.

This photograph was taken this morning. After a day in the sun the little nymphs were jumping in all directions and photographing them was not possible!!

Grasshopper nymph

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Mini Wildlife Projects

Tuesday, April 26th 2011

With winter conservation tasks over for this year, the volunteers turned their attention to summer habitat work. This splendid five star  'bug hotel' was constructed adjacent to the outdoor classroom.

Volunteers make a bug hotel

The six storey structure was made from old pallets and the gaps were filled with reeds, old logs and other suitable material.

Bug hotel

Several pieces of corrugated metal were also put out across the site.  It is hoped that these will act as reptile refuges and that animals such as lizards or snakes might shelter under these and appreciate the warmth. This will allow us to learn more about the reptiles that live at Foxglove. There are no snakes on the species list yet!

After all this constructive work, there had to be some demolition and the old bridges from the lake were taken apart and the timbers were stored ready to be re-used in the future. You never know when you might need a bridge!

Demolishing old bridges

All in all, a good day's work and everyone will definitely sleep well tonight! Watch this space to find out if the wildlife appreciates all that was achieved.

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Ferns, Flowers and Flycatchers!

Monday, April 25th 2011

Adder's Tongue Fern is now out on pool banks of the wetland.

Adder's Tongue Fern

In some of the ponds Common Water Crowfoot is in flower.

Water Crowfoot

Finally, this Pied Flycatcher was spotted along Risedale Beck in the late afternoon on Sunday. This is almost certainly the earliest record ever for this species at Foxglove (24th April).

Pied Flycatcher

 

 

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Nesting Box update

Sunday, April 24th 2011

This week a random selection of nest boxes have been checked by members of our ringing team and they have found that a number of Blue Tits and Great Tits have already laid eggs. The clutches currently range between 2 and 6 eggs. 

For anyone interested in taking a closer look into some of these boxes there will be a guided nest box walk on Saturday 7th May. This would be a perfect opportunity to see how these boxes are used and to witness the wonder of nature as these tiny, helpless creatures develop and finally fly. 

One of our resident Water Voles has been out making the most of the glorious weather and has been seen many times on the various ponds along the Scrapes.....

swimming vole

with this delightful Willow Warbler never far away.

Willow Warbler

The Sand Martins have been seen investigating the nesting sites on the Scrapes today.

Meanwhile, in the ringing room.....

the ringers were treated to the first Garden Warblers back from Africa and several more Blackcaps and recently arrived Willow Warblers.  Members of the public were busy stalking a very elusive Grasshopper Warbler whilst the Common Sandpiper that was a new species to the reserve yesterday was the target for many.  Ringing totals are more than 500 new birds up on last year; differences include (2010 figures in brackets) Sparrowhawk 3 (0), GS Woodpecker 4 (1), LT Tit 27 (1), Coal Tit 84 (47), Blue Tit 84 (35), Great Tit 41 (16), Treecreeper 6 (0), Common Redpoll 36 (0), Chaffinch 214 (174), Brambling 247 (64) and Lesser Redpoll 264 (171).

Dont forget to call us and book your place for the Nest Box walk on the 7th May as places are limited.

 

 

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Flowers and Bees

Friday, April 22nd 2011

As the Easter weekend starts the glorious weather has brought lots of visitors to the reserve.  This bench is perfectly situated to watch the butterflies and bees coming to the frothy flowers of the Blackthorn hedge.

Blackthorn in flower

Another tree in full flower at the moment is Bird Cherry.

Bird Cherry raceme

These lovely white racemes are hanging from every branch.

As you may be aware, the bees have been on their holidays whilst a new observation hive has been installed.  Last night David and Sandra, the beekeepers who look after them, brought the bees back to their new home.  You can see, below, how the hive has doubled in size, giving the bees plenty of space to do their thing!

Observation Beehive

Foxglove Covert is open throughout all the Easter weekend.  We look forward to seeing you here.

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Water Voles and Bogbean

Tuesday, April 19th 2011

Whilst enjoying a picnic in the sunshine, volunteers were able to do a bit of wildlife watching.

Volunteer picnic

This afternoon, their patience paid off and they were rewarded with a sighting of this beautiful Water Vole who was busy feeding and swimming in the scrapes.

Water Vole in Scrapes

Water Voler swimming in the scrapes

There was a real summer feel about today and several more flowers have started to bloom including the Bogbean (thankyou to John for the Water Vole and Bogbean photographs).

Bogbean

The Early Purple Orchids are now fully out along the banks of Risedale Beck and Cuckoo Flower (also known as Lady's Smock and Milkmaids) is flowering throughout the reserve.

Cuckoo Pint

The pools on the wetland are attracting more and more birds. Snipe have been heard 'drumming' and Lapwing, Curlew and Tufted Ducks have all made an appearance today too. The pools are teaming with life, as well as these tadpoles, Great Crested Newts were noticed swimming about one of the pond edges.

Tadpoles on the wetland

In the Willow Carr the bird song is amazing with Willow Warblers, Chiffchaffs and Blackcap (amongst many others) all competing together. A Green Woodpecker was heard again today. If you would like to learn more about how to identify birdsong, it isn't too late to book onto our 'Birdsong Breakfast' event on the 14th May (see the events section for more details).

 

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A New Observation Beehive

Monday, April 18th 2011

David from the Richmondshire beekeepers has arranged for a new observation beehive to be built in the Field Centre which is twice the size of the original one. The bees have had to go away for a short time (far enough that they won't try and fly back). Here you can see Mike from Blenkirons constructing the new frames.

New observation bee hive

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Flowers and Voles

Friday, April 15th 2011

The Early Purple Orchid just coming into flower on Monday has been joined by a few others now and they are in full flower.

Early Purple Orchid

Together with Primroses....

Primroses

Violets.....

Dog Violet

Celandines....

Celandine

and Wood Anemones......Wood Anemone

....they are turning the banks of the beck into a riot of colour! 

Up on the Wetland the Water Crowfoot has just come into flower as well.

Water Crowfoot

This stayed in flower well into the summer last year.

Also on the Wetland there have been quite a few Water Vole sightings this week.   They have been seen swimming around the ponds eating the vegetation.  Lapwings have also been spotted.

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Bugs and Beasties

Thursday, April 14th 2011

Although it was very cold today the bugs and beasties (the invertebrates) are stirring. A spider had built a massive web across a small pond.  Huge bees were heard buzzing. The Whirligig Beetles were whirling on the ponds and the Pond Skaters were hopeful of some food as they skated across the pond surface.

This spider was accidently caught on camera as the Blackthorn was photographed.

Spider on Blackthorn flower

Up on the wetland, this Primrose flower was giving shelter to a fly.

Primrose and fly

And finally there were many black slugs seen around the Reserve today.  Several were eating Wood Sorrel leaves.

black slug

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Flowers

Tuesday, April 12th 2011

The first of the Early Purple Orchids are just showing their colour.

Early Purple Orchid

Soon the banks will be covered in these beautiful flowers. 

Along the beck a dead tree has this wonderful slime mould on it.  Although you can see a hole in the top which is reminicent of a puff ball, the whole of the outside disintegrates to allow the chocolate brown spores to blow away on the breeze.Slime Mould

You can see the spores below.  They look just like cocoa powder!

Slime Mould Spores

The banks of the beck are covered in Primroses, Wood Anemone and Wood Sorrel at the moment.  The spiky leaves of Bluebells are showing as well.

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Spring arrivals

Sunday, April 10th 2011

The day started glorious and just kept getting better.  Our ringing team was here today and although it was a quieter day there were still some Redpolls and Brambling around. There were also Willow Warblers and Chiffchaffs singing loudly and Blackcaps were in evidence too with their bubbly, warbling song.

We have two pairs of Greylags that have been around for a while with a pair showing signs of nest building on the lake.

Greylags nesting

The Blackthorn is in full bloom along Risedale Beck where myriads of Peacock Butterflies were sunning themselves. 

butterfly on the blossom

One of our visitors saw this plant on the path toward the Wetland Hide. As yet it is unidentified and we would love to hear from you if you have any suggestions.

large sawfly

Yesterday members of the RSPB, who were attending a conference in York came for a visit.  They were shown around the Reserve by John, Paul, John and Sandra.

 

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Blackthorn Blossom

Friday, April 8th 2011

The Blackthorn flowers are starting to open and cover the hedges in a froth of white.

Blackthorn Blossom

You can see from the photo we have had blue skies all day.  There were plenty of visitors enjoying the sunshine. 

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Finished Lake

Friday, April 8th 2011

The lake is completely full again now and looked very tranquil in the evening sun.  Both Greylag Geese and Moorhen are nesting on the tiny island! There is still a bridge to be constructed at the head of the lake to connect up the paths on either side. Here is the view from the new bridge location.

Lake in April 2011

and the view from the wheelchair friendly hide...

Lake full again

A small hide was re-built at the lower end of the wetland today.

Moving a hide

After much hammering, measuring and adjusting by the 'Thursday Volunteers' the hide was complete! Here is the roof about to be installed. This hide was hardly used in its old place and now looks over the lower pools on the wetland. These ponds are out of sight of the main tower hide and it will be great to watch the wildlife on them from the 're-cycled' shelter!

View from little hide

Out on the moorland the first Swallow and Wheatear of the year were seen. A Merlin was spotted flying over the reserve for the first time and a Green Woodpecker was heard by the lake.

U3A Northallerton enjoyed a tour of the reserve and students from Askham Bryan continued to work in the new plantation. All of this support from visiting groups, college students and volunteers is greatly valued.

 

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More Signs of Otter

Wednesday, April 6th 2011

There have been further confirmations of Otter presence across the reserve today. A group of photographers from Low Barns Nature Reserve noticed more spraint and footprints close to the lake. The spraint is full of fish bones and is in an obvious place on top of a large stone in order to mark out territory.

Otter spraint

The prints are clear and lead away from the spraint towards the lake. Both are very fresh!

Otter prints

Wood anemone and Celandine are now in flower too.

Wood Anemone

Celandine

 

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Tree Planting

Tuesday, April 5th 2011

Around 250 trees were planted by volunteers today. Several clumps of Juniper trees were placed around the site.These rare BAP listed species are unusual in that although their 'fruit' is called a berry it is actually a cone! The berries take between 18 months and 3 years to ripen.  A few Oak saplings were used to fill gaps in the woodland and the spoil heap from the lake project is now planted up with Willow too. Hopefully these will stabilise the bank.

Volunteers planting Oak trees

This magnificent fungus is growing alongside the path to the wetland.

fungus

 

 

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Nesting Time

Monday, April 4th 2011

Spring has sprung for sure now and the birds are starting to prospect for their nesting sites. These next few images were captured by our nestbox camera that is attached to the Field Centre. Live images can be viewed on the screen in the foyer but here are a few frames to give an idea of the recent activity. You can just make out the face as a Blue Tit fetches nesting material in from outside.

Blue Tit with nest material

This fresh bedding has replaced the clean sawdust, which was removed beakful at a time throughout March!

Blue Tit in nestbox 2

The moss is then laid out and 'arranged' by the bird. By fanning out the wings the material is moved to the edges of the box.

Blue Tit in nest box 3

After a last look about the bird then leaves to find more.

Blue Tit leaving box

This nest box is one of hundreds that are available to adopt as part of our nest box scheme. If you would like to adopt a box for this season please see the 'support us' section on this website.

Bye Bye!

Whilst on the subject of birds, on Sunday the 1500th Goldcrest was ringed on the reserve and the first Blackcap and Willow Warblers of the season were also caught and ringed.

 

 

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Toad Spawn

Sunday, April 3rd 2011

The frog spawn has already hatched and the tiny tadpoles are swimming in the ponds, but the toads are just beginning to spawn.  As this photograph shows the toad spawn is laid in long strings of jelly, wrapped around the vegetation.

Toad spawn

The bird ringers day was curtailed just after lunch due to the heavy April showers.  However 66  Lesser Redpolls were ringed along with early returning summer migrants. 

 

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Busy Bees

Sunday, April 3rd 2011

By this afternoon the sun was out and it was warm.  The bees in the indoor hive were busy collecting pollen, probably from the willow.  They were returning to the hive with their pollen sacs full.  Many of them had tummies coloured yellow, from the pollen.  After winter the hive needs cleaning and many of the bees were collecting small pieces of debris and carrying it outside.   Due to all this activity the bees were very noisy.

The photograph below is not very good due to being taken indoors and through perspex, but you can see the large pollen sacs on both bees.  Different colours of pollen usually indicate that they have been visiting different plants for their pollen.

 

Bees with pollen sacs

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Wood Sorrel and Lichens

Saturday, April 2nd 2011

The delicate, nodding flowers of Wood Sorrel are brightening the grassy banks along the beck.

Wood Sorrel

The following lichens are on some old Ash branches.

Yellow Lichen

This first one has been tentatively identified as Xanthoria polycarpa.

Brown Lichen

This one may be Lecanora pulicaris.

If anyone out there can identify these for sure can they please contact us via the website either to confirm the names or let us know the correct ones.  Thank you.

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