(27) Blog Posts Made in July 2011

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What a busy time!

Sunday, July 31st 2011

After the excitement of the Open Day - we were all looking to take a well earned "breather" - but oops! what has sneaked up and taken us a little by surprise? The Richmond Coffee Morning this Thursday (4th August).  We apologise in advance for asking again, however, if anyone can kindly donate cakes or tombola prizes for the event it would be very much appreciated.  If you can assist on the morning that also would be great.  The coffee morning is from 8.30am to12noon in Richmond Town Hall and offers of help, just even an hour will be gratefully accepted.  Anyone who can provide cakes/help /Tombola prizes could you please contact Foxglove in advance and let us know so that we can plan accordingly.  We appreciate how busy everyone is and therefore the Field Centre will remain open until 6.30pm on Wednesday to accept donations of cakes/tombola prizes or you can ring us and we will see if it is feasible to collect. Many, many thanks.

As has already been mentioned on the Blog, Colonel Guy Deacon, our Chairman,  has been awarded an OBE for the work he did in the Congo. This week he has been invested with his award by the Queen at Holyrood Palace.  We send him our congratulations.

To more mundane matters the bird ringers have been busy preparing net rides at Marne - no easy task as the brambles and thistles thrive in that location.  They were ringing nearby today and 82 new birds were processed including Kingfisher, Reed and Sedge Warblers, Whitethroat and Spotted  Flycatcher. This photo shows a juvenile Reed Warbler.

Juvenile Reed Warbler

They also found many Pyramidal Orchids one of which is shown below.....

Pyramidal Orchid

At Foxglove, Eco Club met on a beautiful, sunny, warm day. We were looking at plants and animals in the different areas of the reserve.  Some of the flowers we were looking for included Betony, Foxglove and Agrimony, whilst amongst the insects were Soldier Beetles, bees, ladybirds and spiders.  We walked through the heathland and along the Dog Daisy path to the Scrapes, recording all we found before heading back to the Field Centre for refreshments and some work on the activity sheets.

The children were very observant and knew a great deal about many of the insects we saw.  As we walked around, conversations and questions included camouflage, warning colours, feeding habits and life cycles.  The children were really keen to see a grasshopper so we went up to the middle moor with sweep nets to find one. And we did!

Here you can see one of the children searching for spiders, bugs and grasshoppers - and the parents joined in!

child sweep netting on the moor

Hunting for grasshoppers

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From Insects to Mammals

Saturday, July 30th 2011

On the wetland checking the water levels and the cattle, there were many bright blue damselfies flitting amongst the reeds and grasses.  Then a newly hatched dragonfly was seen sitting low in the grass.  This enlarged photo shows its head and wing mechanism.  When hawking for food over the ponds, they make a considerable 'clacking' sound with their wings and amazingly can fly to a considerable height.

Head and wing mechanism of a dragonfly

A much quieter insect is this Small Skipper Butterfly which was feeding on an Angelica flower head.  You can see its curled proboscis, which when unfurled probes to the bottom of the flowers for nectar.

Small Skipper showing curled probcis

From two small insects to our Belted Galloway Cattle who are munching their way through our wetland.  Judging by the chewed plants in the ponds they have been enjoying a paddle!Belted Galloway Cattle

Their presence does not appear to have upset the Water Voles as a well used latrine with fresh droppings was found close to a vole burrow showing well-marked footprints.

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Weather again

Friday, July 29th 2011

The sunshine from yesterday continued this morning.  There was a heavy dew and the spider's webs were covered in fine droplets of water making white patches covering the grass and heather.  These warm, damp conditions are ideal for the growth of fungi and some are beginning to show their fruting bodies.  This particular one, in the conifer plantation, has obviously been enjoyed by a variety of creatures.

chewed fungus

 Fly Agaric has been recorded this month.

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A gentle stroll around Foxglove Covert

Thursday, July 28th 2011

The day started dull but warm and continued like that until late afternoon when the sunshine broke through the clouds.  A walk around the reserve is always a joy as you never quite know what you are going to see.

Many flowers are 'going over' now and setting seed but the late summer ones are beginning to show their colours.  Hardheads (Black Knapweed) are providing food for the bees. Their pink purple heads are easily recognisable.

Hardhead flower

However there is always something to surprise you and make you think.  Is this a Hardhead with a large flower head or is it a new species for the reserve.  Further investigation is needed!

Possible Hardhead flower

Insects of all shapes, sizes and colours were flying, jumping and hopping around. When looked at closely many of these tiny insects are beautifully marked as this fly illustrates.

A black and white marked fly

This larva and pupa of the Seven Spot Ladybird were not on the move!

 7 Spot Ladybid larva and pupa

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Just another Tuesday

Tuesday, July 26th 2011

With the dust settling down after all the excitement of the weekend, a sturdy band of 10 volunteers assembled to do something just a little different.  Late July is the time when we traditionally clean out our bird boxes and check to see how many of the eggs laid produced chicks and how many of these chicks actually succeeded in fledging.  The volunteers were split into four teams and each had a sector of the Reserve to search.  The outcome was that we found all the small boxes that we have, which is no mean feat at this time of year with the vegetation so high.  Whilst we realised that some chicks had not made it the majority had, which is good news and supports the observations coming in from our CES ringing sessions, that the small box nesters have done well.  The teams also found that not only do we house birds but the boxes house a couple of bats, a field mouse and a variety of insect life!

The volunteers also manged to pull birch and slash bracken to complete a really full days work, well done!

This was one of the bats that we saw yesterday.  This box will be left undisturbed until the winter.  Thanks to John for the photograph.

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A Quiet Day

Tuesday, July 26th 2011

 The patch of pink on the moor was Zig Zag Clover in full bloom.

Zig Zag Clover

Bees were not only visiting the clovers but also the umbellifers.  Joining them were carnivorous Soldier Beetles who were waiting for other insects to arrive. 

Insects on the umbellifer flower

The ants nest under the "wriggly tin"  is doing well as this photo shows.  Most of the eggs have now hatched and you can see the grubs who will soon be adults hunting and protecting the nest.

Grubs in the ants nest

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More scenes from the Open Day

Monday, July 25th 2011

After the Outdoor Classroom had been opened crafts took over and the children had a great time designing insects and bugs and nature reserves.

Children's crafts

The sluice was also a great source of fun.  Bet the water was cold though!

Children in the sluice

Pond dipping caught a variety of pond life including Waterlice, Pond Snails and Diving Beetle larva and adults.  Some were put into a container for closer examination.  It is not often we get the opportunity to look at these creatures in this way.  Here you can see two young Sticklebacks with a Water Boatman in the background.  All the animals caught were returned safely to the ponds.

Young Sticklebacks

And whilst all the visitors viewed the stands and activities were taking place the wildlife of Foxglove Covert quietly went about its business - feeding.

Feeding bee

The Management Group would like to express its very sincere appreciation to Sophie, Elizabeth, Beryl, the 'other' Tony, and the large and exceptional band of volunteers who worked so hard to make the day such a success.  Comments made by visitors were incredibly complimentary and the reserve looked quite spectacular.  The credit is down to a huge team effort right across the board, but much of the physical habitat management is entirely down to the regular volunteers who make the place what it is.  Several visitors commented on the 'lovely group of volunteers we are so lucky to have' and on the polite and courteous way they had been treated.  This statement speaks for itself.  Today a family were there for a pre- breakfast walk in the sunshine, and then another 50 visitors walked the trails before the reserve closed - many commented on the happy time they had.  One of them found a young Green Woodpecker with a broken leg so we splinted it, applied gaffer tape, and sent it off looking much happier!  The site is already back to normal and people worked until after 4pm to finish the clean up. The time, effort and resourcefulness of all concerned is not underestimated - a very big 'thank you' to you all and apologies for not naming everyone individually.

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Open Day 2011

Saturday, July 23rd 2011

Sunny weather encouraged plenty of people out to visit the reserve and take part in the many activities running across the site. The chainsaw sculptor was one of the first demonstrations that people came upon as they walked in along the access road. Here is Jez early in the morning.

Chainsaw Sculpture

This is the same piece of wood later in the day.

Owl sculpture

Horse logging proved very popular and large crowds attended the demonstrations throughout the day. Mark, his son and Painter (the Dales cross Shire Horse) captivated their audience! Kit and Sean also entertained the public with their amazing tree climbing skills!

Horse logging

Chris carried out a green woodworking workshop by the heathland and showed children how to make whistles from Hazel sticks.

Green Woodworking

Tim's beautiful display of butterflies appealed to everyone.

Butterfly display

At the outdoor classroom, children tried designing their own table-top nature reserve.

Mini nature reserrve

Meanwhile indoors, volunteers worked hard to serve refreshments.

Refreshments

Robert took several groups out to see which wildflowers are in bloom.

Wildflower walk

Several VIPs attended this event. Professor David Hill (Vice Chair, Natural England) opened the new outdoor classroom. The Right Honourable William Hague MP opened the new easy access bridge at the head of the lake, and Professor David Bellamy pulled back the curtains on the plaque at the new wheelchair-friendly hide. Here is David addressing the public outside the Field Centre.

 

David Bellamy

These are just a few of the activities that went on today and there will be a picture gallery on the website in the near future. If you have any photos that you would like to share, please email them to us.  A huge thank you to everybody who helped out today, in any shape or form, for making the day a success - and thank you to all of the visitors for your support.

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Beyond the Call of Duty!

Saturday, July 23rd 2011

At the end of a long day, final touches were made to the foyer area in preparation for the big occasion tomorrow. Beryl, Elizabeth and Jenny were hard at work moving furniture, finalising name badges and finishing displays. Throughout the day many people have been carrying out all kind of tasks from strimming and shredding brash to sweeping boardwalks and cleaning hide windows. Thank you to everybody who has contributed in any way to this event so far, a huge amount of time and effort has been expended and it is really appreciated.

open day preparations

There has been a lot of publicity about the Open Day and last night the following video was shown on local television!

http://www.itv.com/yorkshire/a-covert-operation53032/

 

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Open Day Minus 2

Friday, July 22nd 2011

Work continues apace as the Open Day draws near.  This morning the organising team met to work through the final planning stages to ensure that all the angles are covered; they then dispersed to join a host of volunteers who were already engaged on a range of tasks from shredding course vegetation on the heath to repairing the doors on the workshop. 

Work started on the many exhibits and demonstrations that are to take place throughout the day.  Activities will start at 10.00am on Saturday and go on until 4.00pm.  These activities cover three areas and will include a range of static exhibits and stalls and a number of specific demonstrations and walks which will start at set times.   The formal opening of some of the new facilities on the reserve will be conducted by three of our principle guests during the morning.

Parking will be on the Parade Square at the entrance to the reserve and transport will be provided to ferry guests up to the Field Centre. A site map and a full programme will be available at the main gate and quality food and refreshments will be on sale.

The Reserve Treasurer would like to take the opportunity to thank very sincerely all those who have given up so much of their time to assist, in a variety of different ways, with the preparation of the Field Centre and the reserve itself - which looks magnificent.  Some have given endless hours of their time, yet for family or other reasons will not even be able to attend on the day.  How remarkable is that - what extraordinary commitment!  The volunteers and 'associate' staff have done a truly outstanding job and several deserve to be named individually - but they know who they are so where the cap fits etc .....

It has been, once again, a commendable team effort and huge credit is due to all concerned.  Thank you.  Hopefully you will all be rewarded with glorious sunshine on the day - and Rosie can wear her shorts and sandals! 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Raindrops

Thursday, July 21st 2011

Weather has been mentioned rather a lot on the blog recently and today is no exception!  The rain did stop for a time this morning and the grasses were covered in droplets of water that even the gentle breeze did not move. 

Droplets of water on the grass

Late yesterday afternoon the "wriggly tin" (a metal sheet laid on the ground to encourage reptiles) on the heathland was checked - to date this has yielded some ants and some vole tunnels. This time a Common Toad was sitting under it.  Still no reptiles.

Common Toad

Ann recorded the flowers on the reserve and her list came to over 70 species in flower.  We think a new species has been added to the species list, Saw-wort.   Confirmation and a photo, hopefully, will follow.

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School is out and the Cattle are in!

Monday, July 18th 2011

The final school visit of the summer term took place today. Pupils from Colburn School came to learn about habitats and food chains at Foxglove. Whilst pond-dipping, one group found no less than 39 pond snails in one place! A 'bug safari' proved successful and the children were amazed at how many different species of slug were living under the logs around the new outdoor classroom. The dams were great fun after all of the recent rainfall too. As the youngsters were waiting for the minibus, a Common Newt was discovered underneath a picnic bench on the front lawn!

Since January this year, over 1350 people have benefitted from educational visits to the reserve. This has been thanks to extra help from Kyle, Brian, Josh, Seb, Tom, Beryl and Elizabeth (who has helped to prepare and run every single visit)! Thank you everybody, the thank you letters and feedback forms show how much all of this work is appreciated.

Finally, four Belted Galloway cattle were delivered to the wetland. This area is now fenced off completely and it is hoped that the 'eco-mowers' will reduce the height of the sward accross this habitat.

Belted Galloways arrive

Belted Galloway

 

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Weather and Flowers

Monday, July 18th 2011

It was CES 8 today and with no viable alternative on the horizon the decision to proceed was taken carefully given the foul and unsettled weather that was forecast.  At 04.15 fourteen people had arrived ready to erect the nets.  As the early showers drizzled on the ringers checked the nets continuously returning the birds to the ringing room.  For more than 5 hours it seemed a down pour was imminent, but fortuitously the showers seemed to pass us by. Over 200 birds were processed which placed the day 5th in the league table over the past 19 yeras.  How we managed to get away with it  is a mystery but the decision to 'carry on regardless' proved a good one - more by luck than judgement!  Once the nets were down the heavens opened!

Although the weather was so variable - sun, wind, drizzle and light rain - the flowers are showing their colours around the reserve.

The  Knapweed (Hardhead) is just beginning to open.  These flowers provide much food for insects and bees.

Knapweed

Sneezewort is opening its white flowers on the heathland.

Sneezewort

Other flowers just beginning to bloom include Agrimony, Hemp Agrimony and Sow Thistle, some of which are growing to a height over one metre!

 

 

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Moth Morning at Marne

Saturday, July 16th 2011

Charlie and Jill were determined to set the moth traps out at Marne even though the forecast was for light rain. Late last night no less than seven traps were put out across the training area behind the barracks. Roger and Josh volunteered to close the traps off at first light and worked really hard from 4.30am to 6.30am to centralise the moths and equipment. Thank you!

Mothing at Marne

At  7.30am visitors were met at the gate and escorted to the site. The moths were quite co-operative today due to the cool temperature and here are some of the 150 (approx) species that were recorded.

Garden Tiger moth

There were plenty of Garden Tiger moths. When disturbed, this striking moth displays its orange hindwings with blue-black spots and  produces a clear yellow fluid from two ducts behind its head. The very hairy larva is known as the 'woolly bear'.

Ruby Tiger moth

A close relative of the Garden Tiger, the Ruby Tiger moth is also stunning.

The Drinker

A surprising number of Drinker moths were found. This moth is so-called because the larvae are known to drink water.

Broad-bordered Yellow Underwing

Another moth that stood out today was the Broad-bordered Yellow Underwing. Several species of underwing were recorded.

Buff Tip

Buff Tip, the master of camoflaugue, also made an appearance!

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An Insect Day

Saturday, July 16th 2011

The insects were enjoying the warmth and sunshine.  Small Skipper and Ringlet butterflies were flying through the Scrapes. Large amounts of flies bothered the dogs and humans as they went about their work.

When the Eco Club was on their bug hunt we saw Scorpion Flies, but only females.   Males have a scorpion like tail as can be seen in this photograph. 

Male Scorpion Fly

Ragwort provides a meal for the Cinnabar Moth caterpillars, who use the poisons of the plant to help to protect themselves from predators. 

Cinnabar Moths on Ragwort

And finally food "on tap".  This small ladybird larva was walking through the vetch plant (notice the tendrils helping the plant to climb) heading towards its favourite food blackfly.   It does not change its diet when it is an adult.

Ladybird larva with blackfly in the background

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Pond dipping and work

Friday, July 15th 2011

Bainbridge School came for a visit this morning and hunted minibeasts and pond dipped.  They caught a Pond Skater who immediately decided to feast on the fly.

pond Skater eating fly

They also saw several butterflies, a spider guarding her young, damselflies and a dragonfly.

David, Tony, Kyle and Sophie cleared the large pile of shredded brash including Gorse, and moved it to the Bullet catcher area.  Kyle thought he was safe from Gorse prickles, which he was, but he was not safe from the flies!

Clearing Chipped brash.

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A shredding day

Thursday, July 14th 2011

Not long after the reserve opened Sophie, Beryl and Seb were shredding the hugh pile of brash that had accumulated on the stone pile.

Shredder

 Later in the morning Colin joined the team and the stone pile was cleared!  On to the heathland, where if anything, the piles of brash were even bigger.  Continued hard work saw the huge piles reducing in size - thank you so much to everyone for their hard work today.

Around the reserve some plants are now in fruit like this Raspberry.  Many birds will enjoy a feast.

Raspberry fruit

Blackthorn flowered in late spring turning parts of the reserve white with their flowers.  Now covered in green leaves the fruit is growing and these green berries will turn blue by the autumn.

Blackthorn berries

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Photos from Cape Wrath

Monday, July 11th 2011

The ringing team arrived back from Cape Wrath late on Friday evening after an eleven hour journey by landrover and minibus! The minibus took the scenic route through Glasgow which added to the time taken! These photographs are by Whitfield Benson who joined the team for several days to get up close and personal to some of his favourite birds. Here is the team getting ready to head off for the day.

Faraid Head

On the first day the team headed to a loch close to Durness where several species of gull and tern breed. This Arctic Tern chick still has its egg tooth.

Astic Tern Chick

On the same island on the inshore loch, a Dunlin was observed.

Dunlin

Later in the week, below the UKs tallest sea cliffs, the Guillemots seemed to be having a good breeding season. Their chicks were big and healthy and the adults were bringing back plenty of fish.

Guillemots

During the 'simmer dim' which only lasted for around two hours, the team mist netted around forty Storm Petrels. Here is one having been ringed and re-adjusting its eyes to the darkness.

Storm Petrel

 

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Dawn, Dragonfly and Crossbills

Monday, July 11th 2011

It was a silent reserve as the bird ringers arrived at 4am,  but the birds began calling as this spectacular dawn broke. 

Dawn

The mist nets soon started catching the birds and then a surprise in the net - a juvenile Crossbill.  These birds had been heard calling around the reserve for the last few days and more than 100 were seen and heard today.  Their crossed bills are adapted to take the seeds out of pine cones but some had been spotted sampling the peanut feeders.  By the end of the session we had caught 3 of these beautiful birds, no mean feat as they feed mainly in the tops of the conifers.

Crossbill

Crossbill

The ringing team worked hard processing 283 birds in the ten and a half hours the nets were up.  This was the third highest total achieved for CES 7 with 297 birds being caught in 2002.

We do not only catch birds in the mist nets!  This Southern Hawker Dragonfly was carefully extracted.  Once released from his bird bag he clung onto a branch and started to "shiver" to warm up before flying off strongly.

Southern Hawker Dragonfly

This beautiful nest is the home of Sedge Warbler chicks.  They were ringed locally by the ringing team.  Five of the 7 eggs hatched and all the chicks fledged.

 

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Rain and Legs

Saturday, July 9th 2011

All the rain we have had is making everything grow! So the sound of strimmers could be heard as Seb and Tim set to work strimming  overgrown paths.  They then continued the work that Mike and Tony had started yesterday - strimming the net rides ready for - weather permitting - CES 7 on Sunday.

Sunny at first, rain showers developed during the day but did not stop all the work.

Beryl worked around the Field Centre clearing weeds and cutting back the long wet grasses.  Meanwhile Kyle, Felicity and Josh worked on the heathland - Kyle being the first to say "OW!"  as the Gorse attacked him, closely followed by everyone else.  They also filled the hoppers, less painful!!

Filling hoppers

Thank you to everyone for all your hard work, it is really appreciated.

Whilst on the heathland this harvestman was found. Please count his legs - he should have 8.  He was finding difficulty in walking, but did eventually manage to clamber away. His body is not divided into parts.

5 legged harvestman

Spiders were also hiding in the Gorse.  They also have 8 legs but two parts to their body.

Spider with 8 legs

Insects come in all shapes and sizes, some being very specialised, like this grasshopper, with huge back legs that help him to jump great distances.  He has 3 pairs of legs and has 3 parts to his body.  These were also seen on the heathland and were active during the sunny spells.

Grasshopper with 6 legs

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News and Work

Friday, July 8th 2011

News from the North, Cape Wrath, via a text message from Sophie.  Half the team did some ringing on a sea stack and caught and ringed Guillemots and Razorbills despite  pretty rough seas.  The other half explored inland in search of more Red-throated Divers.  Whilst observing a pair of chicks on a loch the adult flew in and fed a fish to one of the young.  An Admiral joined the group today and enjoyed watching Arctic and Great Skuas and a colony of Puffins.  Other wildlife has been recorded -  Small Magpie moths, Magpie moths, Large Heath,  Dark Green Fritillary and Common Blue butterflies.  Hopefully, technology allowing, there will be a photo later.  This photo of the Common Blue Butterfly has just arrived!

Common Blue Butterfly

The landrover is packed ready for the team to begin their long journey home. Although a very windy evening they are now off to watch Badgers.

Heavy showers at Foxglove did not stop the voluteers strimming net rides and paths, clearing gorse and bramble from the heathland, taking part in a bird ringing demonstration, carrying out the butterfly transect, moving tree tubes  from the plantation and continuing to plan the Open Day.  Many thanks for all your hard work.

However by closing time the sun was out and the flowers on the heathland were gently shaking away the rain drops to show their full beauty.  This small plant, Self Heal, is covering many areas of the reserve, as well as parts of the heathland, with its blue purple flowers.

Self Heal

White Clover is growing along the paths across the heathland.  The Zig Zag Clover, shown below, can be seen poking its head through the grasses.  Clovers are an excellent source of food for the bees.


Zig Zag Clover

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Breeding success in our nest boxes!

Wednesday, July 6th 2011

For the last three months,  a range of species of birds have been selecting a favoured nest box, building their nest, laying eggs and raising young - and now it is all over for another year!  It may be over for the birds but there is one last task for the volunteers, namely to try and summarise what has happened this year and put it into context with previous years.  Here are some of our initial findings.

There were nesting attempts in 68 of our 170 nest boxes by one of 7 species of bird.  We recorded the normal species of tawny owl, jackdaw, blue tit, great tit and coal tit but this year had a single successful nest of both pied flycatcher and redstart.

After two poor years the numbers of pairs of blue and great tits increased back towards the levels recorded in 2008 and encouragingly the numbers of chicks ringed this year was significantly higher than in 2008.  There was a record-equaling number of 5 pairs of coal tits, which all reared large broods of 9 or 10 chicks to the ringing stage.  There were two pairs of owls, one which reared an early brood (see Blog of 2nd May) and another which was several weeks behind this one. 

We will complete the statistics for this year when we finish cleaning out all the boxes and after this we will communicate our findings in more detail to those people who 'own' a box as part of our Adopt-A-Box scheme.

The photograph below shows a typical pied flycatcher nest with a deep grass lined cup and seven pale blue eggs!

 

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More News from the North

Tuesday, July 5th 2011

Technology is marvellous!  This photograph of John with a Storm Petrel arrived overnight from Cape Wrath in NW Scotland.  These tiny birds spend most of their time at sea and only come to land during the night to avoid the close attention of larger sea birds.  There are many hundreds of these birds breeding at Cape Wrath and thousands of immature, prospecting wanderers visit the area.  The group has ringed these tiny birds for many years and has a long list of movements from Iceland and Norway in the north to Portugal and South Africa further south!

John with Storm Petrel

Whilst the ringing team were enjoying NW Scotland, Elizabeth, Tom and Josh were delivering a third and final day of visits for Hurworth School and a small but dedicated band of volunteers spent the day painstakingly clearing gorse from the heathland area where the growing piles of vegetation were a testament to their hard work on a warm and sunny day!

 

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News from the North and sightings at fgc

Tuesday, July 5th 2011

Although no photos have reached us yet - fingers crossed some are on their way - news is good from the North.  At least one Buzzard chick has been ringed and over 1000 auks. 

Whilst at Foxglove a bright flash of blue was seen flying up the lake - the Kingfisher had made an appearance.  Swallows were drinking from the lake and making quite a splash of it. A plop was heard as a Water Vole disappeared and the Little Grebes (Dabchicks) were seen, possibly the first time since 2009.

Thank you to Brian and Josh who helped Hurworth School to pond dip, mini beast hunt and habitat walk. Their sightings included a 10 Spined Stickleback, a Common Toad and a Cucumber Spider guarding her nest in a very prickly Gorse bush.

Cucumber spider with her eggs.

Sightings did not finish there - the Dark Green Fritillary was seen on the moor and in the Scrapes.  Common Blue butterfly was seen in the Scrapes too.  The Chimney Sweeper moths were on the wing. Great Crested Newt and Common Lizard were also recorded today.

The Willow Carr was coppiced during the winter months and there was some concern the the large patches of Betony might suffer, however they have survived and this beautiful flower is relishing the open aspect of the carr and showing its purple pink colour in many areas.

Betony

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Moorland

Sunday, July 3rd 2011

Our moorland is beautiful in the sunshine.  This photo shows the sward of grasses and flowers.

Moorland sward

One of the flowers shown is Bird's Foot Trefoil, a yellow flower that can sometimes be tinged with bright red.  The seed head looks like a bird's foot!Bird's foot Trefoil

Elsewhere on the reserve the deer have been seen.  A visitor reported that the lake was covered by insects and the swallows were making the most of the feast!  Many butterflies were on the wing including Ringlet, Speckled Wood and the  Dark Green Fritillary, shown below.

Dark Green Fritillary

News from the ringing team in the north is that they have reached their destination, Cape Wrath.  Internet connection is poor, but hopefully a photo showing their activities will reach us soon.

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New Friends

Saturday, July 2nd 2011

Children from Hurworth School visited this morning and made some new friends!  The grasshoppers were very co-operative and showed themselves off well as they sat on the children's hands and one was noticed to have lost one back leg..  Not a Latin name in sight as the children called one grasshopper Hoppy.  Spiders and Harvestmen were also viewd up close and personal.  Cuckoo spit was examined and the tiny froghopper was seen.

Cuckoo spit

At the pond dipping, this magnificient diving beetle larva was examined and Josh was able to get a really good close up photo of it.

A Water Measurer was also found.  These creatures have not been recorded since 2008.

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Counting down ...

Friday, July 1st 2011

The usual summer jobs on the reserve are being carried out along with work to prepare for the Open Day which is fast approaching.  The work is varied!  Below Kyle is measuring the trailer and quad to see if we can fit them into a small space elsewhere on the day.

We then moved onto a badly overgrown path to clear away the weeds and fill in the rabbit scrapes.

Repair of path

Although Kyle is the only one in the photos today, David, Josh and Beryl were working hard too.  Thank you very much.

Whilst on the topic of the Open Day could we ask that if you have any prizes for the Tombola that they be brought to the Field Centre.  If you could support us by baking some cakes, scones or biscuits could you please contact the reserve.  Any help is really appreciated. Thank you.

And finally - early this morning a weasel, at full speed, carrying possibly a field vole, ran along the paving stones in the garden.  A few minutes later he was back seaching in the longer grass and then over to the wall and around the pond.  It was quite difficult to keep track of him! The only photo taken shows the grass around the pond and not even a brownish splodge that could be mistaken for the weasel!

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