(24) Blog Posts Made in October 2011

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Lichens, Raindrops and Kingfishers!

Monday, October 31st 2011

As the leaves fall from the trees the lichens are more easily seen.  There are several different species to be spotted.

Lichen

Lichen

The rain overnight had left raindrops glistening on the berries and leaves. 

Rain drops on Honeysuckle leaves

An early morning walk across the bridge as the bird ringers were putting up the nets startled a Kingfisher. No big camera and no big lens, but the little camera recorded a distinct blue splodge sitting on the perch to prove it was there!  Later in the afternoon, in a net ride off the Scrapes, two Kingfishers were caught together in the same net - which is quite unusual.  One was an adult male first caught in 2009 and the other a youngster from this year.

Taking two Kingfishers out of the net

It was a quieter day than normal today but still 163 birds were processed including Redwing, Goldfinch and Goldcrest, Siskin (including a controlled bird from elsewhere), Lesser Redpoll, Nuthatch and Reed Bunting.  With two full months to go the ringers are 90 birds off the best ever annual total set in 2007 and this should be very easily achieved. 

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An Enjoyable and Busy Day

Sunday, October 30th 2011

Eco Club met this morning and the topic was Birds.  Tony talked about migration and what factors persuaded birds to move between continents.  We also looked at why birds lived in particular habitats and the management of these habitats to ensure that they remained attractive to the birds and provided the right conditions for them.

Eco club

The importance of the reed bed was mentioned and the management work in the Scrapes could be seen.  We walked along net rides and looked at new ones being created before watching Robin felling a tall conifer as part of the on-going management work.  There were lots of berries but we decided that the ones the birds liked best were Rowan and Hawthorn - most of the others were not eaten!  The ones the children liked best were the sloes!  We visited the wetland hide and saw a Kestrel and Buzzard during our short visit.

In the afternoon the Fungal Foray took place led by Keith.  We walked through the woodland just a little concerned that the weather conditions were not quite right. We need not have worried though as a variety of fungi were seen; some were identified immediately but some needed more time and were collected for identification later.

Looking at fungi

Looking at fungi

Hand lenses were used to look closely at some fungi and the books came out to assist us.  In the woodland a Dog Stinkhorn was found (Mutinus canius) and it has not been recorded since 2001.  Another find in the new plantation was Wrinkled Club (Clavulina rugosa), shown below, which usually grows in deciduous woodland and only occasionally near conifers.

Wrinkled Club - Clavulina rugosa

Thank you to everyone who helped during the day to make both events so enjoyable.

 

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Halloween Event

Friday, October 28th 2011

Foxglove showed it's spooky side yesterday evening, as families from the Garrison bravely explored the reserve after dark!  Those who made it to the Field Centre were welcomed with hot dogs and craft activities, put on by the Army Welfare Service, before heading off on a bat walk.

There are self guided bat activities this weekend, available in the Field Centre for families and children as they take a walk around the reserve.  Also on Saturday at 1300 we have a Fungal Foray lead by Keith Thomas, a local expert, we have a few places left so if interested please phone on 07754270980.

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Last of the Autumn jobs

Thursday, October 27th 2011

As the nights draw in, the final few Autumnal tasks are being completed. The middle moor was harrowed and sown with a wildflower seed mix.

Harrowing the meadow

The seed was sown by hand.

Sowing Wildflower seed

The Belted Galloway cattle were entertained by all of the activity!

Belted Galloways

Wildflower seed mixture was also scattered around the lake area where the bare soil remains after the re-profiling earlier this year.

Scattering Wildflower seed

One of our younger visitors kindly donated a Mink to add to the taxidermy collection. This was gratefully received and will be on display after some TLC from our local taxidermist. It is a different colour and size to the one already in the classroom which is great to show people how much variation there is across this species.

Mink for the classroom

 

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Early Morning Dew

Wednesday, October 26th 2011

After last nights storm, there was plenty of dew about this morning. These beautiful Sloe berries had huge jewel like droplets.

Sloe berries

This Common Darter was found by Elizabeth first thing and had obviously been resting still overnight as it was also covered with dew.

Early morning dew

There have been sightings of Roe Deer, Fieldfare and Redwing today. The moth trap produced 23 moths of 8 different species. This December moth was amongst the findings. This furry moth flies between early October and January.

December moth

There were 8 Feathered Thorns.

Feathered Thorn

This Mottled Umber was also present in the trap and hasn't been recorded at Foxglove since 2008. The female is flightless with tiny wings that are only just visible to the naked eye.

Mottled Umber

It is now seven months since the lake was re-profiled in the spring and this habitat is beginning to show the benefits.

Lake in Autumn

There have been several Moorhens, Coots, Greylag Geese and Little Grebes already and work is continuing to try and attract more birds to this area. With this in mind, several new nyger seed feeders have been put up in this area. Today, some feeders were put high up close to the tower hide. This involved unravelling lots of string and lots of patience! Mike found a useful technique with a broom handle!

In a tangle

Here is Adam inspecting his new pulley system to attract Siskins to feed by the tower hide.

Pulley system inspection!

Watch this space to see if it is successful!

 

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Plantation Update

Tuesday, October 25th 2011

The volunteers headed down to the old Sitka Spruce plantation first thing to burn the piles of brash left from clear felling the area.  Three bonfires were lit, and as usual everyone pitched in to make light work of the task. 

Plumes of Smoke

It was nice, at the end of the day, to see the progress we had made clearing a small part of this block. 

Robin Felling

Whilst we were working burning some of the brash, Robin was on the other side of the plantation, felling trees at an amazing rate.  I'm sure we couldn't have been burning brash as fast as he was creating it!

TIMBERRRRRRRR!

John also got a photo of a Speckled Wood butterfly sitting on some of the shavings left by the chainsaw; this is late in the season so may be the last chance we get to see them this year.

Speckled Wood

 

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Bonfires

Monday, October 24th 2011

With our winter work schedule well underway, and 5th November just around the corner, bonfire season is here!  Much of the winter work on the reserve involves removing thick undergrowth, thinning of trees, and this year creating more open glades through the site.  The work is all done in order to provide a mosaic of habitats suitable for the variety of species found here at Foxglove.

Bonfire in the Woods

Undertaking this work creates a large amount of waste, the thicker branches and trunks can be used to create habitat log piles, suitable for amphibians and invertebrates to live and overwinter.  Bonfires are otherwise used to dispose of other material that can not be built into the habitat walls.  These do scar the ground which can take up to 7 years to fully recover, so we limit the number of fire sites to reduce damage across the reserve.

Redshank Moss

There are, however, several species that can benifit, two of which have been seen here today!  Redshank Moss (Ceratodon purpureus) was found thriving on an old charred fire site, alongside Pine Fire Fungus (Rhizina undulata) which commonly grows on and around the charred conifer stumps.  It is nice to see how well disused fire sites are recovering, and providing habitat for a rich diversity of flora and fauna,

Pine Fire Fungus

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More work!

Monday, October 24th 2011

The usual scrutiny of the weather forecast took place on Saturday evening and as it was unsuitable for ringing the default setting was 'net ride maintenance' with a 9am meet.  Some clearing and collecting of dry wood to start the fire was high on the agenda and the first task undertaken.  Lesley and Sue were in charge - but there was some concern within the ranks about their 'girl guide' skills especially when two tyres and a can of diesel disappeared!.

Checking the fire was going.

However with careful attention the fire burned well.  John and Tony pollarded the trees, whilst Ray, Jenny and Lesley cleared the brash. Sue and Elizabeth fed the fire helped later by Tom.

Cutting and clearing

Everyone worked really hard and a midday cup of tea was welcome. (Ray even brought a last week's tea bag and warm water to make a special brew for someone!!  Thanks Ray.)

Cup of tea break

Another hour's work saw much clearing up done, although it is still work in progress and there remains a great deal more to be achieved.

Thank you to everyone who helped today.

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A Cloudy Day

Saturday, October 22nd 2011

The strengthening wind helped the clouds speed across the sky, and thankfully after the night of rain it remained dry.

Clouds

Feeders were filled, more trees felled, and more work was added to the list of  'jobs to do'!.  In the hopes of catching the Otter that passes through Foxglove, a remote camera was set.  Exciting!!

Although it has not been ideal conditions for the growth of fungi there are still various varieties to be seen.  This bracket fungus was growing on a dead tree in one of the net rides.

Bracket Fungus

And close by was this jelly fungus.

A jelly fungus

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Bonfires, Birch Trees and Marshmallows!

Wednesday, October 19th 2011

Staff from Defence Infrastructure Organisation spent a day carrying out conservation tasks as part of a team building exercise. First they worked hard in the new plantation to continue the brashing and thinning that was started yesterday. There was plenty to do but by lunchtime there was only the brash left to burn.

Working in the plantation

After a serious curry, it was back to work on a different habitat. This time, scrub was cleared from a corner of heathland. The chainsaw is in for a service but this wasn't going to stop 'team extreme' from fellling large Birch trees!

Extreme bow saw team!

Elsewhere on the patch, more Birch, Gorse and Hawthon were the victims yet again!

Scrub clearance

The group soon made a difference.

What a difference

At the end of the day, marshmallows were toasted on the fire.

Waiting for the fire

What a treat! Thank you for all of your help today and for your continued support for which we are extremely grateful.

Toasting Marshmallows

Meanwhile, thanks to Mike and Tony, who were repairing steps up in the woodland, more jobs were crossed off the list!

Making steps

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Plantation, plantation, plantation!

Tuesday, October 18th 2011

In spite of the wild and windy weather, work has continued on the clear felling of part of the old conifer plantation. Robin was hard at work felling Sitka Spruce, Larch, Grand Fir and Lodgepole Pines. The view has really opened up and the moorland is now visible from the discovery trail.

Block 2 of the plantation

Meanwhile, in the new area of plantation, seventeen volunteers thinned out the Scots Pine and cleared scrub. This will allow more light into this previously neglected woodland and promote the growth of flowers such as Foxgloves on the forest floor.

Mountains of brash were cut and burned on a bonfire. Pupils from the Dales School joined in for a while and enjoyed the crackling sounds of the fire.

Working in the plantation

An amazing amount of work was achieved today and this area of woodland is being transformed and is beginning to look 'cared for' again! Thank you everybody and thank you to Adam for providing fantastic chocolate cake for energy!

New plantation

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Importance of CES

Monday, October 17th 2011

Did you ever wonder where presenters on TV programmes like Countryfile and Spring Watch find all those wonderful facts about bird populations and breeding success? Well they get it from the BTO, and where does the BTO get its data from? Well they compile their information from the data supplied to them by a number of voluntary teams scattered around the country similar to the ringing team at Foxglove. 

The team at Foxglove has just completed its 19th consecutive season of Constant Effort Site ringing at Foxglove.  This has meant that on 12 mornings between May and September this year, the team members were up well before dawn in order to arrive at Foxglove to erect the mandatory nets as first light was breaking.  Ringing then commenced for a standard ten and half hours on each session.  Following all this effort, Tony has just completed the inputting of the information gathered and we can now see further information and recent trends emerging about our site and the wild bird population in general. Quoting from Tony's own words:

"the results have been the best ever with 2584 birds going into the data total which is incredible, ........ but basically we had 5 days with over 200 birds caught and 2 with over 300 caught! The poorest day - which is perfectly normal when they are all breeding - was CES 2 with only 106 birds. The next nearest highest year was 2479 birds in 2006, the lowest ever was 1295 in the first year 1993."

When all this data is collected centrally, the BTO is able to make informed comments about the success (or lack of it) of the breeding season as well as other observations about survival rates and the overall population trends of individual species.  It is also worth pointing out that this information is supplied to Government under the BTO's contract with Joint Nature Conservation Committee (JNCC), to help inform their decision making on conservation issues!

So when you are sitting in your arm chairs watching TV and listening to the facts being spoken with such authority, remember that it is all possible because of the energy and enthusiasm of the volunteers like the ringing team at Foxglove and it is also worth saying that we should be very proud that in Foxglove we have one of the premier sites for data collection across such a wide variety of bird species in the UK.

The photograph shows one of the team members explaining the procedures to members of the public.

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Autumn Migrants

Monday, October 17th 2011

The usual scrutiny of the weather forecasts had taken place on Saturday evening and the email sent, to say ringing was going ahead and to meet at Foxglove at 7am. Thrush and Tawny Owl were amongst the birds calling as the bird ringers arrived.  Dark clouds were around but for a short time the red sky of dawn could be seen.

Dawn

Over 200 birds were processed today, including Wren, Goldcrest, Long-tailed Tits, Reed Bunting and Bullfinch.  However the stars of the show were the arrival of our first winter migrants, Redwing and Brambling.

Two juvenile Redwings were caught and ringed.  The red under the wing can just be seen in the photograph below.

Redwing

Bramblings usually arrive in numbers during midwinter, so catching one today was exciting.  It will be interesting to see if more arrive over the next few weeks.  Look for these birds feeding with other finches; this one was a 1st year male.

Brambling

Lesser Redpolls showed off their beautiful plumage, this one was a striking adult male.

Lesser Redpoll

As the nets were taken down and the last birds brought back to the ringing room there was a surprise - a juvenile Kingfisher.  Although all of the birds above had fantastic colours the vibrant blue of the Kingfisher amazed everyone.

Kingfisher

 In summary it was a busy and interesting day with 232 birds caught with Goldcrest being the most common which doesn't happen very often - 23 new ones were ringed. 

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The Lake

Friday, October 14th 2011

Things have been picking up on the lake this week, with several new sightings!  The first Greylag Goose of the winter has been spotted on the lake today, this could be a bird passing through on migration or possibly one that will over-winter here.

Graylag Goose on the Lake

Little grebe have also been seen, along with several kingfisher sightings, five moorhens and otter spraints along the path.  A job for next week is to hang new nyger seed feeders outside the tower hide, these hopefully will give visitors good views of siskin and goldfinches though the winter months!

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Bonfires and Felling

Thursday, October 13th 2011

Our regular Thursday volunteers were once again in, working hard to fix little jobs for us!  They have done a great favour today fixing one of the doors on the 'Bullet Catcher', one of our store rooms, and this afternoon continued clearing brash near the top of the tank tracks.

Team Tony working away

Robin has been here as well and made some real progress, felling a large area of Sitka Spruce close to the head of the lake.  If you have not visited for a while you will hardly recognise it around there!  Hopefully the ground will dry up a bit over the next few days so we can move the timber off site with out too much trouble

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Bats, Chickens and a lot of Hard Work

Tuesday, October 11th 2011

What a busy day it has been at Foxglove!  Firstly the timber for the felled plantation was again being extracted from site. 

All 53 bat boxes are checked once a year for evidence of usage by bats as summer roosts.  Tom and Brian finished checking the boxes and found a total of 7 bats in residence.  This lucky box housed four pipistrelle bats and they found single bats in three other boxes. In addition there was evidence of usage of other boxes as either birds and bat roosts. The total number of bats seen was a record for the Adopt-A-Box Scheme.

Pips roosting in a box

Otter spraint are becoming more commonly spotted along Risedale Beck, Ken installed his motion camera here in hope of getting some photos of them.  It will be looked at next Tuesday; make sure you check the blog then to see if it was successful!

Installing the motion camera

Volunteers have again been hard at work clearing young Silver Birch from the side of the lake to make a grassy bank that will be a good viewing point for wading birds!  The scrub in front of the lake hide was also cleared greatly improving views of the lake.

Chicken Run

The reserve has been home to a cockerel from the Officers' Mess for the last six weeks.  Foggy, Compo and Clegg were keen this morning to take it back to its proper home, however they were outwitted by the chicken and had to give up on their rescue attempt!

After lunch other volunteers decided to try their luck, and tempted it out of the undergrowth using Sophie's delicious banana muffins!  The muffins went down well and soon Jack and Richard had him netted!  He is now happily relocated back with the chickens at the Officers' Mess!

Got It!

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Timber Extraction

Monday, October 10th 2011

A tractor and trailer are being used to remove the felled Sitka Spruce trees from the reserve. This morning, a route in through the plantation was made and brash was used to protect the footpaths that were along the way.

Timber extraction

Due to the sensitive nature of the site, this is the largest machinery that will be used. Hopefully the weather will hold off and allow the work to take place quickly and keep damage to a minimum. Over the next few months this area will be re-planted with broadleaved trees.

Tractor and trailer

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New Net Ride and CES Data

Monday, October 10th 2011

The strong winds meant that ringing was not possible today.  However after a lie in some of the bird ringing team arrived at 9am to continue work on the new net ride, number 58.  This had to be replaced as it was on a path.

Dry kindling was collected for the fire and Tom was designated the pyro man!!

Starting the fire

John was cutting down trees, especially Silver Birch, whose seeds spread very easily all over the reserve.  Trees lining the net ride were pollarded.

John working

By the middle of the afternoon the net ride looked totally different.  Hopefully it will soon be catching birds.  Thank you very much for your hard work.

Net ride 58

In the Centre, data from the last two days of CES bird ringing was being entered into the computer.  The deadline to get all the CES info to the BTO is 17th October and with only about 80 retraps left to enter this should now be easily managed.  Many thanks to everyone who has helped with this huge task.

There are still another 200 sheets of birds ringed elsewhere this year still to be computerised!

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Cameras Out

Sunday, October 9th 2011

The cold drizzly weather did not stop the cameras being in action.  Brian and Sandra found this beautifully coloured fungus on the way to the wetland.

Beautifully coloured fungi

There are still plenty of lovely juicy leaves to consume but this slug preferred a fallen leaf on the stony path.

Slug eating leaf on stony path

This male spider was hanging around the edge of a web - was he thinking of going courting?

Male spider

Angelica flowers are still to be seen and are a source of nectar for any insects flying at this time of year.

Angelica flower

Although sightings of the Water Vole are not frequent, Brian found plenty of footprints in the clay in the mink raft in the Scrapes.

Water Vole footprints

And finally this soft feather was blowing gently in the woodland debris.

Feather

 

 

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Woodland Habitat Piles

Friday, October 7th 2011

After such a wet and windy week we decided to make the most of this beautiful autumn day and headed up to the top of the tank tracks.  Here there was lots of brash and larger logs left to clear from previous worky days. 

Wood Piles

There was lots of timber to use to construct habitat piles, and they quickly took shape, one along the edge of the woodland trail and the second between three trees.

These piles will provide a winter refuge for many invertebrates, small mammals and amphibians.  Much of the wood we used was already quite old and showing signs of decay, and holes made by wood-boring insects.  Damp conditions at the bottom and behind peeling bark will be very inviting for beetles, spiders, centipedes and woodlice as well as frogs, toads and newts, while in the drier areas butterflies and ladybirds may overwinter.  All these invertebrates will make this feature a valuable scavenging site through the winter months for birds such as robins and wrens.

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Hiding Invertebrates

Thursday, October 6th 2011

Strong winds continued throughout the day, with some drizzly rain at times.  Invertebrates were few and far between.  Some battered webs could still be seen strung amongst the vegetation, but only one or two spiders.  The 7 Spot Ladybirds looked well tucked up in this Gorse seed head. How many can you count?

Ladybirds in Gorse seed head

This possible sawfly larva was munching his way through a pine needle, whilst being blown about in the wind!  (He has not yet been identified.)

Possible sawfly larva

Tony volunteered today and strimmed paths and checked tree tubes. In the afternoon, he pulled thistles on the moor which are not to the cattle and sheep's taste unfortunately!  They are reducing some of the vegetation.

Belted Galloway eating

The moorland looked rather dramatic as the wind scurried the clouds across the sky.

Dramatic moorland

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Bonfire Cookery Extravaganza!

Tuesday, October 4th 2011

The fruits of Autumn were celebrated today with a bonfire cookery day in conjunction with Plantlife. The regular Tuesday volunteers got  a bonfire underway in the morning and later on more people joined in to cook on the flames and embers.

Pancake mix, cake mix, bannock and twister dough were all prepared in the kitchen.

Preparing the bonfire feast

The twister dough was cooked on the end of Willow sticks.

Cooking up a feast

Richard and David looked like a pair of gnomes fishing in a pond!

Twister dough

Terry's pancakes were delicious served with honey. Bannock with hazelnuts was shared (this Scottish unlevened bread must never be cut with a knife as it is bad luck)! Other highlights included sausages, quiche, baked potatoes with butter and cheese, bananas with melted chocolate, bramley apples with raisins and brown sugar and cakes cooked in orange skins. All in all, a great feast!

Bonfire Cookery

Meanwhile, Robin was hard at work felling trees in the plantation.

Clear fell

Anne, Ruth and Elizabeth went for a wildflower walk and identified 47 plants in flower, an incredible amount considering it is October!

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Tree Bumblebee and The Christmas Raffle

Monday, October 3rd 2011

On 22nd September Jenn and Ian took this photograph of what they thought was a queen Tree Bumblebee.

Tree Bumblebee

This observation has now been confirmed by the Bumblebee Conservation Society and this dainty bee has been added to the species list. It has only recently arrived in this county and is the 35th new species added to the list since April 1st.

Our Christmas Raffle has now opened with the draw being made at the Christmas Party on the 14th December.  The two stunning framed photographs below have been generously donated as first prize by Richard one of our regular volunteers.  Second and third prizes are Christmas Hampers.  Tickets are on sale at £1 per strip and available from the Field Centre.

FIRST PRIZE!!!

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Bird Ringing

Monday, October 3rd 2011

The forecast had the weather set - fair but dull - for the day so the bird ringing team was at Foxglove for 0630, in the rain!  A cup of tea kept us awake while waiting for the rain to ease, which it did, giving way to a very dull dawn, perhaps just a touch of pinkness in the sky over the Scrapes.

Dawn over the Scrapes

John, Tony and Stuart were kept busy checking the birds.

Birds being checked

Unfortunately the wind increased and the rain continued, so the nets, once all the leaves had been removed from them, were taken down just after lunch.  Nevertheless the number of birds caught kept the team busy well through the afternoon and had the circumstances been different it would have been a bumper day.

As it was over 200 birds were processed including Reed Buntings, Bullfinches, Long-tailed Tits, Goldcrests and some juvenile Goldfinches.  A Chiffchaff ringed elsewhere was controlled and will be followed up.  Sue Harper promised to bring tanning cream for next week!

 

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