(25) Blog Posts Made in November 2011

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All Trees Great and Small!

Wednesday, November 30th 2011

After the stormy weekend weather there was a lot of extra work to be done clearing wind-blown trees. Robin was back on site to clear away the large Larch trees that were victim to the 80 mile an hour gusts on Saturday night.

Tidying after the storm

Meanwhile, in the middle of the reserve, Adam felled about 15 Silver Birch trees. Although beautiful, this species is very invasive and if it was left untouched would completely takeover many of the Foxglove habitats. Brash was woven into a dead hedge to provide shelter for some of the wildlife.

Felling Birch

Fifteen volunteers worked hard all day to clear an area of Willow Carr from scrub and then thinned out this Blackthorn hedge to improve the habitat for birds.

Blackthorn

Just a reminder that the Christmas dinner will be on the 14th December; there are still places available if you would like to join us. If you have booked please can you pay by the 9th December (only £13 for a 3 course meal). Any donations of food items (mince pies etc) will be gratefully received for the Christmas hamper and tickets for the raffle are already on sale in the Field Centre.

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Weekend Wind Damage

Tuesday, November 29th 2011

After the strong winds over the weekend, it was not a surprise to come in to work this morning to find several wind blown trees.  Over 16 larch, as well as fir, willow and holly have been knocked over in the clear fell area towards the top end of the lake.  With the sitka spruce now gone from this area it faces the full force of the wind whipping off the moorland, and with shallow root plates it was not unexpected to see the larch had been thrown over!

Wind blown larch

The size of the root plates on the larch below show just how shallow these trees root, one of the main reasons they are rarely found as an individual tree.

Larch root plates

Up in the woodland however, the damage was much less with only three trees along the paths having been affected.  The alder below was already showing signs of rot in the trunk before it fell.

Fallen alder

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Windy Weather

Monday, November 28th 2011

Blue sky and sunshine showed off the reserve early this morning.  However the wind had caused some damage overnight and remained very strong during the day.

View to the moor

The feeders at the Tower Hide had unfortunately not survived the wind and all had ended up on the ground.  Goldfinch had been seen enjoying the Nyger seed.  Even though the feeders in the back garden were being blown in the wind, birds including Goldfinch, Bullfinch and Coal Tit were feeding from them.  Now that the last of the leaves have fallen - been blown from? - from the trees, the birds are more easily seen.  This Great Tit was thinking about trying out the Guelder Rose fruits but eventually decided against it!

Great Tit in Guelder Rose

The wind continued to blow until mid afternoon.  Some Gorse bushes are the chosen site for the 7 Spot Ladybird's hibernation but the wind had not disturbed them at all!

7 Spot Ladybirds in Gorse

It was a calm end to a very blustery day, as the sun set over the wetland.

Sunset over the wetland

 

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A Walk Around Foxglove

Sunday, November 27th 2011

The weather was windy, dull and drizzling, and we thought it was unlikely we would see very much, however it was amazing what was found on our walk around Foxglove.  Firstly, Shaggy Inkcaps were growing in the grass at the side of the access road. As it matures this beautiful white fungus will soon be dripping with black inky liquid.

Shaggy Inkcap

On the way down to the Bullet Catcher the Ivy was in full flower, providing food for insects and moths still on the wing.

Ivy flower

This lichen covered branch was broken so it was easy to view the gills of these tiny fungi.  Only when the photo was downloaded and examined were the fruiting bodies of the lichen revealed - they are the dark rounded areas to the left of the two larger fungi.

Fungi on broken branch

Another fungus was found, this time apparently growing on the root of a tree.  The droplets are unlikely to be rain drops as the fungus was actually in a hole, so they are almost certainly to be from the fungus itself.

Fungus

And the best find kept until last!  These beautifully ugly larvae live under wood.  They are very shy and within minutes of being exposed start to disappear into the soil.  Fascinating!!

Larvae

 Although it is late Autumn, Foxglove is still a magical place!

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Autumn is Drawing to a Close

Saturday, November 26th 2011

As Autumn draws to a close the scenes and views in Foxglove are changing. Larch trees in the woodland have lost most of their needles with the recent cooler temperatures and wind turning the woodland floor and paths a lovely shade of brown.

Larch needles on the woodland floor

 Now that the Ash have lost their leaves, the branches covered in moss stand out and emphasize the beauty and majesty of these very old trees. 

Old Ash tree

 

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Island Work

Friday, November 25th 2011

Work began today to clear some of the growth from the island at the end of the scrapes.  Vegetation on the island had become overgrown, so on we went armed with our loppers and bowsaws.  We are not planning to coppice the Willow here entirely, rather take about two-thirds of the older more mature growth from each stand.  This should leave enough cover for sheltering wildlife, while also allowing much more light to reach the gound which will benifit the grasses and flowers come spring.

Here we can see David and Kyle hiding in the background just as work started here this morning.

Hiding Volunteers

David and Emily were less than convinced with Kyle's attempt at bridge building. (They did make it over with dry feet!)

You call that a bridge?!

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Red-tailed bumblebee

Wednesday, November 23rd 2011

The mild weather seems to be having an effect on some of our wildlife. This striking bumblebee (Bombus lapidarius) was photographed yesterday by Brian.This common and widespread species is usually in flight from March to October. It lives in social colonies of less than 200 and forages from a wide range of plants including Dandelion and Bluebell.

Red-tailed bumblebee

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All Sorts

Wednesday, November 23rd 2011

The wild birds at Foxglove are fed all year round as they need all of the help they can get. The seed feeders therefore need to be cleaned regularly. The Foxglove volunteers were glad to help even though most people had been doing the very same job in their back gardens at the weekend.

Cleaning the seed feeders

Other tasks carried out by volunteers today include sorting out the timber store, clearing around the large wooden hopper feeders and identifying fungi.

Volunteers also continued to burn brash in the clear fell area and were assisted by staff and pupils from the Dales School.

Big bonfire

This site is looking great now and will soon be re-planted with new trees. Not all of the branches have gone to waste. Some of the tree tops make perfect Christmas trees. Here is Simon carrying one back to the Field Centre!

Christmas is coming

The Dales School students also enjoyed a walk over the bridge at the head of the lake and had a look for the Kingfisher that is seen daily fishing from the purposefully placed perches.

Looking for the Kingfisher

There are also frequent sightings of Kestrel, this one was observed hunting close by to the bonfire and didn't seem at all bothered by the smoke or the noise of the tractor and trailer.

Hovering Kestrel

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Goodbye Cows!

Tuesday, November 22nd 2011

As the winter weather seems to have truly set in and the grass growth finally stopped for the season, the belted galloways have been struggling to find enough food on the Moorland.  We spoke with the famer last week, it was decided that it would be best to take them away back to the farm, where there is plenty of food, and where they won't be able to cause any more damage to the wetter parts of the Moorland and the paths.  They were relieved to see Keith the farmer with a bag of feed, and quickly followed their noses into the trailer without any trouble, quite unusual when moving cattle!

Hungry Hungry Cows

 

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Mist and Migration

Monday, November 21st 2011

As the shortest day draws near so the time of arrival at Foxglove allows for a little lie in!  A very cool, misty morning greeted the ringers at 0745.  The sun was rising and started to shine through the mist as the nets were put up. 

Misty morning

An early morning walk revealed a world usually hidden. Spiders had been very busy overnight spinning their fantastic webs and the mist had adorned them with sparkling droplets of water.

Spider's web covered in droplets of water

A Seven Spot Ladybird had taken refuge in a seed head, close to a web,  and it also was covered in dew drops.

Seven Spot Ladybird

The sun rose and the mist lifted as the first birds were returned to the ringing room.  A bird not seen at Foxglove before was removed from a bag.  Whenever a "special bird" is brought into the ringing room, names go into a hat - well a bird bag - and a name is drawn for that person to ring it.  Jenny's name was drawn and so started the process to confirm the bird's identity.

It was a Yellow-browed Warbler which had come from Siberia.  This is yet another new species to add to the list.

Yellow Browed Warbler

It was not the only bird that had travelled many miles.  Fifteen new Blackbirds, some likely to be from the continent, and three Redwing were ringed. There was discussion as to whether these migrant birds would remain within Foxglove or head further south.  Time will tell if they are retrapped.

Our resident birds also made a show as we retrapped a 6 year old Great Tit who had not been recorded since 2005 - where has he been during the interim?  Also an 8 year old Blue Tit was processed having first been ringed in December 2003.  And finally another Blackcap was caught.  This species is a summer migrant but some are now overwintering in this country - will we catch him again?

In total 194 birds were processed. 

Thank you to everyone who worked hard to make the day a success.

 

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Testing our Weave

Friday, November 18th 2011

Early this morning Elizabeth saw this kingfisher flitting about on the lake, and posing for some lovely photos on the perches after snatching a fish.

Contemporary willow sculptor, Jess Wilkinson came in to give us some tricks and pointers for working with green willow, refreshing our memories before the upcoming Christmas willow weaving workshop.  She gave us some tricks of the trade on how to select the best materials, for creating wreaths and other festive decorations.

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Richmond Coffee Morning

Friday, November 18th 2011

Once again it was time to promote Foxglove Covert and raise some funds at the Thursday coffee morning in the Town Hall. As well as Tony's excellent cups of tea and coffee (made with hot milk), there was a raffle, tombola, white elephant and Foxglove stall.

Raffle

The cake stall was very popular, Anne's legendary meringues caused quite a stir and vanished very quickly!

Cakes

Thirteen people in all helped out during the morning and worked hard to serve teas, sell goods and of course wash up in the kitchen.

Jankers

In total, £206.17 was raised. A big thank you to everyone who helped out with baking cakes, donating prizes, serving teas, setting up, clearing up and manning the fort back at the reserve.

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A Question

Thursday, November 17th 2011

Over the years facts and figures have been written about the bird ringing at Foxglove Covert.  Facts include the number of hours of ringing, to the amount of miles walked and  the number of cups of tea made and sticky buns eaten. 

It is well known that the birds, carefully removed from the nets are placed in the bird bags and returned to the ringing room.

Bird bags in the ringing room

At the end of every session the bags are turned inside out and counted to ensure no birds are left in bags and no bags are missing.  Some empty bags have the mishap of falling into mud, getting wet and er dirty! 

What happens next? 

One of the bird ringers collects the box and takes the bags home to be washed and dried.

Bird bags drying

Once dried and aired they are returned ready to receive the birds for ringing.

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From the Moorland to the Lake

Wednesday, November 16th 2011

Once again we found ourselves burning brash down near the lake.  With the hard work of the regular volunteers and those who came to the worky day last Saturday, we have caught up with the tractor and cannot do anymore clearing here until the rest of the timber is removed.  Thankyou to all those who have helped with this job so far!

View - Moorland to Lake

The clearance work, along with the felling of some Italian Alders, has given us a magnificent view down from the Moorland through to the Lake Hides, especially in the late afternoon sun.

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A Very Soggy Day!

Monday, November 14th 2011

After the beautiful day yesterday today's ringing took place in mist and light drizzle.  Tony explained to the bird ringers that these were the sorts of conditions that mist nets had been designed for; much of the day was perfect for ringing although very damp.  Over 160 birds were processed including 23 Blackbirds.  Some of these birds were light in weight and the speculation was that they were migrants just arrived from Europe that had used up some of their fat reserves for the journey.  Hopefully they will find plenty of food in Foxglove.

The mist continues to highlight spiders webs and this one, taken with flash, on the privet in the back garden shows a fantastic construction.

Mist covered spider's web

 Although the day was so grey there was still a flash of colour in the Gorse flowers, but even they had droplets of water on them!!

Gorse flower

 

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Many Hands Make Light Work

Sunday, November 13th 2011

Over thirty people joined in today's winter worky day (admittedly, 3 of these were out on an Autumn walk and were roped in)! Blog viewers and recent visitors will be aware that a small area of mature conifer plantation has just been clear felled. The last tree in this patch was cut down yesterday and so the clean up operation could well and truly begin! Tom and Emma began the day by re-siting bird boxes that had originally been in the plantation. Several bird boxes including an owl box were put up and some bat boxes too.

Bird box re-location

Meanwhile everyone else got stuck in to reduce the huge piles of Sitka Spruce brash. This area will be re-planted over the coming months and the brash needs to be removed first. Here is the 'before' photo.

Sitka brash

After last night's heavy rain, lighting a bonfire was no easy task.

THe trouble with fires...
 

There was soon 'bonfire rivalry' as each sub group tried to create the best fire. John and Trish were not short of fuel in this corner.

Ambition Corner

One sneaky way is to steal your neighbour's ash!

Stealing ash

Everyone worked really hard.

Burning brash

Having 'officially retired' Elizabeth took some time out to organise all of her extra free time! This occasion was celebrated with sticky buns at 3 o'clock along with other 'fancies' such as Adam's delicious 'parsnip and maple syrup' cake.

Retirement do

This incredible Fly agaric toadstool was found amongst the fir branches. A perfect specimen!

Fly Agaric

By the end of the day, the site was looking much clearer and it is possible to imagine the broadleaved saplings thriving in this spot. Here is the 'after' photo.

The 'after' photo

Well done everyone, thank you for all your hard work, see you on December 3rd?!

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Moth Morning

Friday, November 11th 2011

The moth trap was set in the back garden as we left work yesterday evening, the still and warm conditions (for the time of year) were ideal for surveying these nocturnal creatures.

Paddington the Moth

In total we caught 10 moths, of four different species, Feathered Thorn, Dark Chestnut, Spruce Carpet and six of the furry December Moth, shown here in the pictures.  This striking moth has large feathered antennae, and creamy white markings on its charcoal coloured forewings; it is unlikely to be confused with any other species flying at this time of year.

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Purple Jelly Fungus

Friday, November 11th 2011

In spite of the misty, murky weather, there are still plenty of Autumn colours to be seen. There are still plenty of fungi too due to the wet weather. This funky Purple Jelly Fungus was photographed by Brian on his walk through the woodland.

Purple Jelly Fungus

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Water Droplets and Something Unexpected

Thursday, November 10th 2011

Although this damp, drizzly weather may not be our taste it does give rise to some opportunities for photography.   Berries with droplets of water hanging from them were glistening, even with the lack of sunshine.  Fruiting cups of the lichen Cladonia, were full of water and for once some of the photographs were in focus!!

Cladonia sp

Cladonia sp with water in fruiting cup

Grass seed heads provided other places for water to collect.

water droplets on graas seed heads

Blades of grass may be curved but this does not prevent the water lying along them.  

Droplets of water on grass leaf

The first frosts of Autumn kill the last of the spiders and late flying insects but some spiders have survived and their webs were covered in very large droplets of water.

Spider's web

Remaining on a watery theme, some extra water was put into the pond tank in the Activity Room.  Small invertebrates could be seen including flatworms, Freshwater Shrimps, Water Lice and some unexpected guests - two efts.  An eft is the correct name for a very young newt, probably one that still retains its gills.  They were caught and photographed before being released back into the pond where they will hibernate over winter.

One was slightly larger than the other, but they were about 20mm long. Both photographs show the feathery gills.

An eft

An eft

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Brock on the Beck and some more numbers!

Wednesday, November 9th 2011

Most of the volunteers were hard at work in the mist clearing scrub from a small patch of heathland today. Others cleared leaves from footpaths and helped out with a school group visit. Where would we be without all of this help?! In total, volunteers have spent 1560 days working for Foxglove Covert this year. This equates to £78, 000 worth of work. This help has been in a whole manner of different ways from baking cakes and selling raffle tickets to digging out pond weed, rounding up cattle and raking hay meadows!

Here are a few people enjoying a well earned cup of tea at the end of today's task.

Well earned break

A new way that one person has been able to help is by setting out his remote camera on the site. Despite our best efforts to capture an Otter, so far Fox, Pigeon, Rabbit and Roe deer have made an appearance along with this stunning Heron.

Heron

Another great record is this photograph of a Badger. Signs of this elusive animal have been seen for quite a while but this is the first photographic evidence of a Badger at Foxglove. Thank you Ken for these interesting pictures.

Badger

Pupils from two different schools enjoyed an Autumn visit to the reserve. Students from the Dales School helped to burn brash on a bonfire whilst children from Appleton Wiske Primary School explored various habitats to support their classroom topic 'Animals and Us'. To date, 1592 people have benefitted from an educational visit to Foxglove in 2011, another impressive figure for a Local Nature Reserve.

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The Day of the 91st Bird

Monday, November 7th 2011

As usual on a ringing day we were there as dawn broke.

Dawn

Frost covered leaves were to be seen in some of the sheltered spots around the reserve.

Frost on a leaf

Retrapped birds made up the majority of the early catches and the 91 new birds needed to reach the highest ever annual total seemed increasingly unlikely.

During the day the siting of the duck trap was finally accomplished with thanks to everybody who helped with this not so easy task!  Food will be scattered around it from tomorrow so that ducks on the lake may be caught and ringed.  We have two traps in operation now that the Bellflask trap has also been re-activated.

The Duck Trap

Net rounds continued to produce new birds including the first influx of Scandinavian Blackbirds, Redwing, Siskin, Lesser Redpolls, Reed Bunting and several Greenfinch.  When the columns were added up in the middle of the afternoon over 60 new birds had been ringed and the target number suddenly became a possibility - just as well because we knew we would not be allowed home until the magic total had been reached!

Sun and warmth encouraged the insect life to show itself and reports of darter dragonflies flying, a shield bug and Whirlygig Beetles were also recorded.

The birds were processed in order but a solitary bag was hanging alone to one side as the number of bird ringers taking a break increased - nobody was keen to claim this particular bird.  A unanimous vote saw Tony taking it from the bag revealing a very angry young male Sparrowhawk!  

Tony with Sparrowhawk

By the time teams set off to take the nets down the number of new birds had increased to 88 - three short of what was required, and as the sun was thinking of setting the final nets were removed and the last of the birds was returned to the ringing room.

Then the countdown started 88, 89, then 90 - one more to go!  Lesley's Greenfinch was 91 which took the annual total of new birds ringed in the reserve to the highest ever at 3497.

Lesly, John and Greenfinch

Unfortunately it was too dark to take a photo outside but we could not let the occasion pass without a photograph, so here is the 91st new bird of the day and the record breaker - ringed by Lesley and checked by John. By close of play even more new birds had been ringed and we still have 6 weeks or more of the year to go!

the 91st bird - Greenfinch

3500 new birds ringed on a small reserve is quite an achievement and it was nice to share the experience with some young children who came in and were able to release a few birds themselves.  Today saw the number of new Blue Tits ringed on the reserve break the 4000 barrier and the number of new Long-tailed Tits pass 1000.  Among the retraps were a 6 yr old male Chaffinch, a 5 yr old male Blue Tit and a 5 yr old male Great Spotted Woodpecker.  Thanks are due to all of the contributors at Foxglove for the part everyone plays in producing this information.  Who would have thought we had such small birds surviving in this way, and there were others caught today that had lived almost as long.

As the team left the sun had set and the moon was rising.  As Robert Burns wrote.....Each took off his several way - resolved to meet some ither day!  It had been a fun and productive session - and yet another milestone!

The Moon

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Lots of Photos!

Saturday, November 5th 2011

Yesterday Brian had the tables turned on him - instead of him doing the looking he was looked at!   'What is that?' she is asking.

Roe Deer

 'Better have a good look!  Is this a better position  for you to photograph me?!'

Roe Deer

A great sighting. Several deer have been observed but these are the first photographs for a while - thanks Brian.

This morning in the rain, Ann and Elizabeth set out for their flower walk.  It was noted that many of the flowers that had been seen in October in reasonable quantities had died, but amazingly 39 species were recorded, including this Knapweed. (Hardhead)

Knapweed

Others seen included Wild Carrot, Blackberry, Honeysuckle, Ivy and Sowthistle.  The full list can be seen on the Observation Board in the Field Centre.

We noted other species, Robin's Pincushion Gall, a Raspberry, and some beautiful lichens, which were soft because of the rain.

Lichen

Initially we thought we had found a new species of 'lacey dock' until the leaf was turned over and was seen to be being consumed by several slugs and a caterpillar!

Dock leaf with holes eaten by slugs.

However after careful scrutiny and checking that it was not recorded by its old name, a new species of plant was found!  It is a good job it was spotted last week as this week it was somewhat mud covered but still identifiable - unfortunatley no photograph is available and we may have to wait until Spring to get one!  The new species is ..... Redleg (Persicaria maculosa) and it likes to grow in damp bare ground and mud.  It was growing in ideal conditions.

Whilst Ann and Elizabeth were enjoying the rain, Sophia and Adam were enjoying playing in the mud again!  They returned to the Field Centre and they did not even come to stand on the verandah,.Sophia and Adam

A cup of tea and a sticky bun were well received before they returned to the voley pond to complete the removal of the Reedmace that had been cleared from it yesterday.  A job well done - but the other larger pond is yet to be attacked!

Sophia with tea and sticky bun!

Some of the winter maintenance work leaves areas looking a little sorry for themsleves but nature is amazingly fantastic and come the Spring and Summer these areas will soon look green and beautiful.

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Mud, Glorious Mud!

Friday, November 4th 2011

The weather conditions this year have been ideal for reed growth, you may have noticed them spreading through the wetland, scrapes and other ponds.  Before we started today the first voley pond was completely choked with Reedmace.

Beofre Work Started

The plants came out relatively easily, but the mat of roots underneath was a bit trickier, and a lot muddier!

Octopus Attack!!

By the end of the day the pond was visible and the majority of the plant material had been barrowed away thanks to David and Emilys' hard work.

The Aftermath

Despite the mud and cold water everyone seemed to enjoy the day! (Apart from Strider, who just wanted his bed)

Happy after a days work

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Work in the Wetland

Thursday, November 3rd 2011

Much needed maintenance work has begun on the wetland today.  Shortly vegetation surrounding the pipes and sluices will be removed with damaged areas being repaired or replaced.  This should improve the water flow through the site allowing us to better maintain water levels.

Some of the pipes had become so overgrown just finding them was a challenge. Our new volunteer Emily was quite happy to come out and get her hands dirty, and has even said she will be back in to help again tomorrow!

 Vole holes had tunneled through some of the bunds allowing the water to make its own way through them.  These were filled to divert the water back on course, but it will not be long before more reappear.  Sophie, here, had us digging for the 10p she dropped in the pond!

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Tuesday Toil

Wednesday, November 2nd 2011

Once again our band of Tuesday Volunteers found themselves clearing brash in the plantation area near to the head of the lake.  This must have felt like Groundhog Day as we were working in almost the exact same location as last week, on the exact same job!  The floor was carpeted with brash, but soon the fires were roaring and the job was well underway.

Before we started

The coffee and tea break was supplemented with Ann's delicious Yorkshire Parkin!  Needless to say this treat was enjoyed by all.

A well deserved break

It is always nice to leave the worksite seeing the difference that has been made!

After a hard days work!

 

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