(25) Blog Posts Made in September 2011

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Carillion Worky Day

Friday, September 30th 2011

Staff from Carillion kindly gave up their time to help out on the reserve today. The group took some time out away from the confines of the office and made a difference by clearing an area of Hawthorn and Birch to create a glade.

Carillion Worky Day

At the end of the day you could definitely tell where the small group of keen volunteers had been. Volunteers were also hard at work yesterday, strimming, mowing and stock taking. Thank you everybody, we really appreciate your time and effort!

Carillion Worky Day 2

Finally, congratulations to Tony Cooper who is the winner of this quarter's 100 club draw!

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A Beautiful Autumn Day

Thursday, September 29th 2011

It may not feel like Autumn just yet but the leaves are starting to turn and plenty of visitors were out and about enjoying the splendid seasonal colours.

Risedale Beck in the sunshine

Up on the wetland, the sheep are doing their work, grazing on the bunds of the ponds. Water voles have been seen here too this week.

Sheep on the wetland

Other sightings include plenty of butterflies, Speckled Wood, Red Admiral and even a Brimstone. A Weasel was seen scooting across the access road and Buzzards have been heard calling over the moorland.

PS. Rumour has it that JB has hit his magical target and ringed over 2000 Mipits in the crater on the Training Area - 2004 is the number I have heard mentioned - and the overall total is 2111 which includes over 40 Goldfinches, Linnets, Reed Buntings and several other bits and bobs!  A pretty good effort by any standards and roughly half the entire Mipit number ringed in the UK in a year!  We should buy him a bottle of Elderflower Cordial to celebrate!  Well done John and all who have helped him.

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A Mixture

Thursday, September 29th 2011

This dandelion like flower was wide open in the sunshine.

Dandelion like flower

A Banded Snail was comfy in the Gorse.

Banded Snail

As was this Orb Spider

Orb Spider

And finally a touch of autumn in the hot sunshine - a Rose Hip.

A Rose Hip

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Making the most of the sunshine

Tuesday, September 27th 2011

The warm conditions seemed to fetch out all kinds of invertebrates across the site. John captured this stunning shield bug on his camera.

Shield bug

Common Darters are still to be seen in 'clouds' along the boardwalks.

Common Darter

The Orb spider was closed up tight in its nest this morning but the afternoon sun enticed it to open up the nest entrance!

Orb Spider

Whilst clearing scrub, volunteers came across this master of camouflage, a looper moth caterpillar!

Looper

Other tasks carried out by volunteers today include repairing a dam, identifying wildflowers (57 in flower), burning thistles and leading a guided walk. Students from the Dales School helped to carry brash to the bonfire too. All in all, a great days work! A special thank you to John for providing the photos for today's blog post.

 

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Another Early Morning and some news from Berlin

Sunday, September 25th 2011

The weather forecast was 'iffy' for today - so no change there!   Over 1730 migrating Meadow Pipits have been caught at The Crater on Barden Moor during the last few weeks and we are not sure when the last ones will pass through - we are still learning about them.  So the decision was taken to try again today and by 0620 the nets were going up as dawn was breaking.  It was still and quite warm.

Dawn from Barden Moor

There were not many birds around initially but we soon noticed a Kestrel and Sparrowhawk were both hunting in the area of the nets..

The red sky of dawn soon turned to grey and white fast moving clouds above the moor, and then we found ourselves inside these low clouds getting pretty damp!  Some reorganisation of the cars so they were facing into the wind enabled ringing and scribing to continue without birds and ringers being totally soaked.

Arrangement of cars for ringing

The wind eventually won the day and the nets were taken down about noon.  By then the low cloud was clearing and there was even some blue sky!  Over 60 Meadow Pipits had been processed with only one retrap which was one caught earlier this year.

Finally, some news from Germany; Adam has completed the Berlin Marathon today! It seems that the coracle paddling paid off! Here he is just after the finishing line at the Brandenburg Gate.

Berlin2011

Adam managed to get round in an amazing 4hours 43mins, Congratulations to Adam from everyone at Foxglove!

Berlin marathon

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Eco Club

Sunday, September 25th 2011

Driving along the access road to Foxglove Covert, please drive carefully to miss the Shaggy Inkcaps that are growing in the middle of the road!

Shaggy Inkcaps in the middle of the access road.

Eco Club met this morning and we set off to check some bat boxes.  Tom and Brian had found one earlier, still inhabited by a bat.  The underwater camera was deployed and the children filed past the screen to see the tiny bat.  It moved around a little and at one point looked straight at the camera.  This took a short time and the front was returned to allow the bat to rest for the remainder of the day.

checking a bat box

A quick visit to Risedale Beck was followed by pond dipping.  The children caught damselfy larvae, water boatmen, snails, sticklebacks and Pond Skaters.

Pond dipping

Thank you to everyone who helped today.

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Exciting!!

Saturday, September 24th 2011

On 14th September, Christine (Whitehead)  went exploring and photographing in the conifer woodland.  She took the photograph below, a yellowish fungus, sort of fan shaped with wavy edges and a sort of stem.  She identified it as Yellow Fan - Spathularia flavida - exciting!   Another new species!

Yellow Fan fungus

But on identification and further research, wait for it, she found out the following - Foxglove Covert is only the third site recorded in Yorkshire with a possible further three sites in the North East and understood it to be on the Red List of Rare Species.

What an exciting find.  It was still in the woodland this week.

On Thursday when David, Elizabeth and Tolly (dog) were attempting to return to the boardwalk a 'caterpillar' was found on Water Figwort.  It was examined, and photographed with difficulty as he would not stop crawling around and trying to get underneath the leaves.  We attempted to identify this 'caterpillar' to no avail.

Figwort Sawfly larva

Once the photographs had been downloaded and enlarged it was noted that it has more than 4 pairs of claspers and so was not the larva of a butterfly or moth but that of a sawfly.  Further investigation revealed that this was Figwort Sawfly, Tenthredo scrophulariae.

And yes, another new species for the list!

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Colours!

Friday, September 23rd 2011

Reds, yellows and oranges are the colours associated with Autumn and Foxglove Covert is just beginning to display those colours, but not always where you think.  This orange and yellow bracket fungus is growing on one of the log piles.

Orange fungi

A red 7 Spot Ladybird is hiding in the dull brown seed head of Gorse.

A hidden 7 Spot Ladybird

Bright green sphagnum moss shows up the red leaves of the Marsh Cinquefoil.

Red leaf and sphagnum moss

And then there is a colour that surprises you - most Self Heal flowers are now in seed but this one is different and has just opened its flowers.

Self Heal

 

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Splashing about on the Lake

Thursday, September 22nd 2011

The coracle build has been a success and the five 'coraclers' have had a wonderful time learning how to make a 'floating basket' using traditional techniques. The build began yesterday first with the seat and then the main frame.

Coracle frame

With a lot of care, thin Ash laths were then fixed to give the boats their shape.

Adding latts

This might sound easy but was very fiddly and time consuming! By the end of day one the boats had finally taken shape and it was interesting to see that each one had a different shape! By mid morning on day two (today), the floors had been woven.

Coracle

The calico could then be fastened on to the frames.

Calico

The coracles will need to be waterproofed with bitumen before they are watertight and Dave and Chris were keen to teach everyone how to paddle. With this in mind, they had brought along a few coracles that could be used this afternoon.

Splashing about

As you can see, this was great fun and soon everyone had managed to manoeuvre their craft in the required direction! Adam visited the wooden snake in the middle of the shore and then had to paddle against the wind to get back to the head of the lake. This would all be good training for the Berlin marathon on Sunday!  

Pupils from the Dales School showed an interest in the coracles and some helped out this morning with sawing wood and sanding timbers, they also enjoyed watching the boats on the water.

Thank you to Dave and Chris for leading this course, it has been brilliant! If anyone would like to know more about these traditional fishing boats then there is a coracle society.

http://www.coraclesociety.org.uk

The blog post would not be complete without thanking the volunteers who gave up their time today to continue work on the wetland. 'Muddy people' have been plentiful this week and all of the graft will pay off in the spring as this habitat flourishes once again.

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Wet Feet and Coracles

Tuesday, September 20th 2011

With so much work to be done in the wetland over the coming winter, we decided to spend a second day working on this habitat.  The vounteers split, with some raking up the grass from our efforts yesterday, while the majority worked in one of the pools clearing, Bulbous Rush, Branched Bur Reed, and Typha.

Paddling About

This was very hard work and by the end of the day we were all covered in mud with very wet feet!  Thank you to all the volunteers who happily got stuck in to the job today! After we had finished pulling the vegetation we were lucky enough to see the benefits of a clear pool almost immediately, with a stunning view of a water vole swimming across!

Dave Purvis was also at Foxglove teaching a group how to build coracles - a small traditional boat.  The frames are now complete and tomorrow they will be covered in calico and coated in bitumen paint to finish, before being tested out on the lake in the afternoon!

Coracle consturction

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Wetland Worky Day

Tuesday, September 20th 2011

The bunds on the wetland were strimmed today to knock back the Gorse and Hawthorn that has started to encroach on this relatively new habitat. It is hoped that the sheep will graze this area and help to naturally keep it down.

Strimming the wetland

Whilst checking the pipes that control the flow of water over this part of the reserve, signs of Water Vole were found and underneath the reptile refuge a Field mouse scampered from it's nest.

Field Mouse Nest

Meanwhile, the sheep were doing their job keeping on top of any new growth on the middle moor. Nice stripes!

Middle Moor

 

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More Meadow Pipits and a Whitethroat!

Sunday, September 18th 2011

Dawn was breaking as the nets were put up on Barden Moor.

Dawn

Bird ringers from Foxglove caught and ringed another 240 Meadow Pipits today making 500 since last Thursday. Two adult birds that were ringed last year were processed and the other 238 were juveniles! This first year Whitethroat surprised everyone as they are not usually found here after August and most will be on their journey south to overwinter beyond the Sahara.  The recent poor weather has reduced the opportunities to net the Meadow Pipits but even so somewhere over 1600 have now been ringed in the last month!

Common Whitethroat

Reed Buntings, Linnets and Goldfinches were also caught today.

 

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Meadow Management

Saturday, September 17th 2011

In order to reduce the sward even lower on the middle moor, sheep have been let on there to graze for a few weeks as is necessary.

Eco mowers

The small mixed flock of Swaledale and Cheviots were keen to explore, having been indoors for a while.

Swaledale and Cheviots

This area will be developed as a hay meadow over the next few months and it is hoped that next spring and summer it will be full of colourful wildflowers.

Sheep on the moor

If you walk across here on your visit, please make sure to close all gates!

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Bug Day

Friday, September 16th 2011

Today we were lucky enough to have Roger Key, who was the Senior Entomologist for Natural England, visit for the day.  He gave two lectures during the morning looking at how habitats can be managed for invertebrate fauna.  Then after lunch he took us out to look at some of the habitats around the reserve, which he was very impressed with! Thank you to Roger for putting on this very enjoyable and informative day.

Brian found this spider in its nest made of grass seeds and at least one wing of its prey, spun together with silk.    If you look closely you can see its striped legs which helped Roger to identify it as Araneus quadratus, one of the orb web spiders.

Spider in nest

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Back to School

Thursday, September 15th 2011

Pupils from Hunton and Arrathorne CP School visited Foxglove and enjoyed some sunny weather. This was a relief for everyone after the recent stormy weather. The children did some pond-dipping, sweep netting and played in the beck in the morning. Searching for invertebrates on the heathland was great fun and Common Darters were caught and observed.

Catching Dragonflies

Other finds included shield bugs, bumble bees, spiders, grasshoppers and even a frog!

Bug hunting

All of the creatures were examined closely and then released back into their habitat.

Bug safari

After lunch an Autumn walk was followed by a poetry workshop. Artists palettes were made using natural materials and 'sound maps' were drawn to help inspire the youngsters.The budding poets made use of these observations to create a poem. Everyone worked very hard  and the results were fantastic! This poetry workshop will be explored and explained on 5th October in conjunction with Plantlife. If you are a teacher and would like to know more please have a look in the events section for further details.

Meanwhile, students from the Dales School continued to learn about science and nature. Several schools make use of the reserve throughout the autumn term as there is still plenty of wildlife to see and enjoy with the added interest of spectacular autumn colours.

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Make Hay While the Sun is Shining!

Tuesday, September 13th 2011

The strong winds over the last few days have taken their toll on some of the old trees along the beck, with some large branches falling and one old trunk coming down altogether.  Our first job today was to clear this from the path, building a new habitat wall with the logs.

With the help of 15 keen volunteers, dogs and cows, we finished raking off the hay and thistle pulling from the middle moor as part of our preparation for converting this area into a wild flower meadow.  It looks smart and will be harrowed in the next week or two before we sow the seeds.

The cows were keen to lend a hand!

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Hidden Talents

Sunday, September 11th 2011

 Mowing continued on the middle section of the moorland yesterday.

Managing the meadow

The whole area was cut and (if you are a volunteer, please don't read the next part of this sentence) will be raked up next week!

Cut meadow

Today was the Foxglove Covert coffee morning in Bedale. The new and improved tombola system proved to be a success and raised in excess of over £50. Thank you to Jean and John for organising this. Several people turned out to help and surprised us with their hidden talents. Rosie made beautiful 'Percy Pig' Cakes!

Coffee and cakes

These were a real hit - especially with customers who had dentures!

Percy Pig Cakes!

While Adam's chocolate cake contained courgette and walnut, a real treat for those able to acquire a piece!  Adam appointed himself chief tea-taster for the day and Beryl was the cake-slicer (and eater).

Bedale Coffee Morning

Later on in the morning there was a very rare sighting and it became clear where the REAL work was getting done and by whom!

Rare Sighting

In spite of the rain, over £180 was raised. Thanks to everyone who gave up time to help out today whether baking, buying, selling or washing up, it all makes a big difference to the reserve.

Finally, some Mute Swans were ringed this afternoon - 2 cygnets and an adult male, which is bringing up the young alone after the female was taken by a fox.  The adult was already ringed and was a control.

Mute Swan and young

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Making Hay

Thursday, September 8th 2011

Felling has continued in the conifer plantation at the head of the lake today. Robin has again been working hard to clear this area so it can be replanted over the winter with a mixture of 70/30 hardwood/softwood.

Robin felling trees

Whilst Robin was busy in the woodland, 3 men, 2 women and two dogs went out to mow a meadow! We are planning to turn part of the moorland into a wildflower meadow, and as part of preparation for this the summer growth had to be removed.  We have borrowed a flail for the back of the quad bike, and made quick work of cutting the grass.

Sophie cutting the meadow

Clearing and raking the grass was a much bigger job, taking up most of the day and probably most of next week!  The dogs spent the afternoon charging round the moorland, now sleeping under the desk!

Elizabeth enjoying the work!

Part of the hay has been moved into a giant haystack using traditional tools just like the good ol' days!?

Hay Time!

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Moving Houses!

Wednesday, September 7th 2011

Harvesting work has started on the conifer block to be removed this winter. The bird boxes in this area are being re-located before the trees are felled. Here is Colin with an owl box and a standard bird box which had to be carefully taken down.

Moving Bird Boxes

There will be more on this story tomorrow but the plan is to remove the Sitka Spruce from the wind blown area in the NW corner of the reserve and replant with a 70/30 hardwood/softwood mix as we did near the middle moor gate 2 years ago.  Watch this space!

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Snakes and Lakes!

Tuesday, September 6th 2011

A few weeks ago volunteer John had a vision! Today he was a man on a mission as he put his idea into practice. The snake sculpture that was created by Jez Kalkowski on the open day had been left on the carpark by the information shelter. John decided that it would look much better on the shore of the newly expanded lake. The team of 'Tuesday' volunteers agreed to lend him a hand as it was much heavier than he anticipated.

The Snake Sculpture is re-located

The team would not give up and had to use timber tongs and rope, just look at the determination on John's face!

Volunteers on a mission!

As the ground on the far side of the lake is so uneven, it was agreed to 'float' the sculpture round to its new location.

Floating the snake!

The snake took to the water pretty well and apart from from becoming heavier and more slimy and difficult to grip, the plan was a success.

Swimming snake

In true 'Last of the Summer Wine' style, the sculpture was finally installed in its new location (much to the amusement of people back in the Field Centre who watched the action on the remote camera). Thank you to everyone who helped out and especially to Foggy, Compo and Clegg who are seen here looking as proud as punch!

Last of the summer wine!

Other tasks carried out by volunteers today included bagging up six tonnes of bird seed for use over the winter months and brashing in an area of plantation. Students from the Dales School also helped out by dragging brash to the bonfire. Well done to all involved for another productive worky day!

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Berries

Tuesday, September 6th 2011

Red berries can be seen all over the reserve.  Hawthorn and Rowan (shown below) are covered and the Blackbirds are already feasting on them.  Hopefully they will leave some for the Fieldfares and Redwings who spend winter in the reserve. 

Rowan berries

The Guelder Rose has beautiful white flowers in the early summer and now the trees are covered in red berries.

Guelder Rose berries

All the trees with red berries are obvious but you have to look closely for the berries of White Bryony as they twist around the stems of other plants.

White Bryony berries

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Another Excellent Day

Sunday, September 4th 2011

 With CES complete some of the ringers were out on the training area today making the most of the Meadow Pipit migration.  Last year roughly 1100 of these birds were caught there which equates to around 25% of all Meadow Pipits ringed in this country.  Today we were on a roll, and with 890 already in the bag over the past week or so, and with absolutely perfect weather on our side, the total birds caught for the day was 416 of which 395 approx were new Meadow Pipits.

Skylark

This takes the total for the year so far to nearly 1300, well over last year's record numbers.  Among the other birds caught were Skylark - pictured above - and Goldfinch, Reed Bunting and Linnet. 

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Coracle Building!

Friday, September 2nd 2011

On the 21st and 22nd September we have coracle expert Dave Purvis visiting to lead a course on the construction of these traditional lightweight boats.  The second day will also provide a chance for you to have a go at sailing in a coracle!

The cost of this 2 day course is £150 at the end of which you will have your very own coracle to sail away in!  If you are interested in participation please contact one of the Reserve Managers as soon as possible (places are limited) on 01748 831113 or 07754 270980.

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Raffle Draw!

Thursday, September 1st 2011

The raffle for the Owl sculpture that has been standing at the entrance to the field centre was drawn today!  The sculpture was crafted using a chainsaw by Jez Kalkowski and was kindly donated by him to Foxglove Covert for the prize.

Congratulations to Bob Longridge, who is the lucky winner of the draw!

Whilst the draw was taking place members of the ringing team had been on Bardon Moor since before dawn catching Meadow Pipits.  They managed to catch over 200 juvenile Meadow Pipits and an interesting selection of other birds including Skylark, Wheatear, Linnet, Goldfinch and a Whitethroat.  This brings the total of mipits for the week to over 700!!  The photograph shows some of the team hard at work making the most of this rare opportunity to handle such an interesting selection of birds.

Bird ringers

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Another fire!

Thursday, September 1st 2011

The 'winter' work continued today as Sophie and Adam cut down some Silver Birch trees bordering the heath.  This hopefully will prevent some birch trees growing on the heath next year!  Once these had been felled two large willow trees were cut down.  

Adam cutting down a willow tree

Seb and Josh cleared the felled trees and dragged them to the fire to be burnt.  Initially the fire burnt well but then there was a question of will it or won't it burn?

Will the fire burn?

All this activity did not deter the 7 Spot Ladybirds, hoverflies and bees being very busy amongst the flowers on the heath.

Bee on a Hardhead flower 

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