(17) Blog Posts Made in December 2011

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Our Magnificient Trees

Friday, December 30th 2011

As you walk through the woodland, now that all the leaves have fallen, the magnificent  Ash trees can be seen with their spreading moss-covered branches.

Ash tree

Ash Tree

Some of these trees grow on the banks of Risedale Beck and glimpses of the beck can be seen through the branches.

Ash Tree

David volunteered today and carried out a variety of tasks including straightening the tree tubes and stakes around the Juniper trees on the moor.  We think the Belted Galloways had played with them!!  Clive filled all the feeders. The birds around the lake were soon enjoying a feast.  

Birds on the lake feeders

 

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A Day at Foxglove

Thursday, December 29th 2011

It was colder today and the strong winds had returned bringing drizzle and rain.  Some visitors ventured out into the reserve and were rewarded with the sighting of two Roe Deer and a Woodcock.  Meanwhile, Brian, Dot and Elizabeth set off to check the mink rafts -  well Brian did the checking! This one is on Risedale Beck and when Brian examined the clay there were no signs of any footprints.

Brian checking the mink raft

We set off to check the woodland walk for wind damage which gave us an excellent excuse for 'rooting'!  A moss covered log pile caused a distraction whilst moss seed heads and lichens were examined.

Examining a log pile

Once in the woodland a tiny white fungus, spider egg cases, ladybirds on a marker post,  more ladybirds on a tree tube and a tiny grub inside a jelly-like case near to them were seen.

Grub in jelly like case

This fallen leaf showed a beautiful pattern; the result of a tiny insect that had lived in it.

Leaf with insect damage

Oh, and there were no fallen trees in the woodland!

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A Very Windy Day

Tuesday, December 27th 2011

No chance of reflections in the Lake today!  Waves on the Lake were the result of the very strong wind blowing off the moor.

Waves on the Lake

It is now noticeable that most of the Hawthorn berries have been eaten by the birds. The remaining berries are likely to be blown off!  However the Contoneaster is still covered in bright red berries and likely to remain so - they must taste very unpleasant to birds and mammals! 

Some of the Holly trees still retain their berries because the prickly leaves give some protection from the wind.

Holly berries

The Rosehips are sometimes eaten by birds and small mammals.  Strong winds rarely dislodge them and by the end of winter there are still some berries left, although rather mouldy!

Rose hips against orange bracken

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Colours at Christmas

Monday, December 26th 2011

Although winter is here there are still colours to be seen around Foxglove.

Brown mole hills show up against the green/yellow grass on the middle moor.

A line of mole hills

The fluffy, silver covered thistle leaves await the Summer sun to produce their flowers for ladybirds, moths and bees to visit. They then stand tall and very prickly, ready for the volunteers to come along and pull them up!

Thistle leaves

Rosettes of leaves, sheltered by the Gorse, will grow into beautiful pink flowered Foxgloves in the summer.

Foxglove Leaves

Splashes of bright yellow can be seen across the reserve - the Gorse in flower.

Gorse in flower

Most of the leaves have fallen from the trees but there are still some red leaves to be seen on the brambles.

Red coloured Bramble leaves

Green moss covers some of the older branches of the Ash trees.

Moss on the Ash tree

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Jelly Ear Fungus

Thursday, December 22nd 2011

Auricularia auricula-judae, known as the Jew's ear or jelly ear is common at Foxglove. The fruiting body is distinguished by its noticeably ear-like shape and brown colouration. This species is associated with Elder trees and the name is derived from the belief that Judas Iscariot hanged himself from an elder tree; the common name "Judas's ear" eventually became "Jew's ear", while today "jelly ear" or other names are sometimes used.

Jelly ear

Congratulations to Elizabeth Dickinson who is the winner of this quarter's 100 club draw.

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A Winter Walk

Thursday, December 22nd 2011

The temperature had climbed and life was stirring.  Very small Sticklebacks were swimming and Whirligig Beetles were whirling in the ponds in the Scrapes.  Even the hive bees were taking flight in the winter sunshine.  Some of the apple put out for the Water Voles yesterday had disappeared.  Several Roe Deer with their beautiful white bottoms were seen daintily walking through the undergrowth.  Chaffinch, Coal Tit, Greenfinch, Blackbird and Bullfinch were amongst the birds feeding in the back garden.

This small slug was feeding on a lichen.

Slug on lichen

Whilst this Larch Ladybird was walking around on the bark of an old Ash tree.

Larch Ladybird

The 7-Spot Ladybirds were also on the move, but this one was unsure - maybe he wanted his droplet of water to drop!

Ladybird with water droplet

 

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Birch, Bonfires, Banjos and Borscht!

Tuesday, December 20th 2011

Volunteers helped to clear Birch trees from around the Field Centre.

Bonfire

At lunchtime, everybody brought some food to share, Brian's Borscht and Richard's chilli were a real welcome, warming treat after working outside in the cold!

Volunteer party

Adam's honey and fig Christmas cake also went down extremely well!

Adam's Christmas Cake

Some of the band members from the Compass Rose Ceilidh band kindly provided the entertainment.

Hutch

Compass Rose

Hugh amazed us with his array of musical instruments. Brian also played the Northumbrian pipes for us. There are now enough volunteer musicians to set up a Foxglove orchestra!

Northumbrian pipes

Thank you to everybody for bringing along such lovely food from sausage rolls and quiche to millionnaire's shortbread (and Tony's Parisienne baguettes and mildy salted Irish butter just freshly made)!

Finally, the fourth load of timber was removed from the site today. This will go to the sawmill for use as chip, palettes or saw-wood.  With luck the cost of removal will be offset by the sale of the wood and the clearance of the conifer wood will have been cost neutral.

Timber wagon

It was a fun party and brought a year of very hard work and considerable achievement to a fitting end.  Warm thanks are due to all who have volunteered in whatever capacity throughout the year, and to the Reserve Managers who have done an outstanding job.

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A Very Cold Day

Monday, December 19th 2011

The moon was still to set as the bird ringers met at a very cold frosty Foxglove at 0830.  This is the latest time of arrival and after the 21st December those lie ins get less! 

Moon over the conifers

It was bitterly cold and ice had formed over part of the lake.

Ice on the lake

A few weeks ago the lichen cups were filled with droplets of water, today the droplets had turned to ice.

Frozen droplet of water in lichen cup

Water droplets on the grass had also frozen and then the frost covered them.

Frosted grass

Some young visitors from Plymouth enjoyed their time in the ringing room and released several birds.  The last bird they released was a very reluctant Blackbird who seemed more than happy to remain in a warm hand! 

Releasing a Blackbird

Releasing a Blackbird

Many of the birds processed today were retraps but there were several new Blackbirds and Siskins included in the total of 165 birds caught. A brief look at the ringing records during the day for 2011, and there are many more yet to be entered, shows that 10,500 birds have been processed this year so far with 7,500 of them new birds.

The day ended as it had begun, very cold and frosty, but it was an all male team today.....so we struggled!

 

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Tool Time

Friday, December 16th 2011

Today was spent in the (cold) workshop; during the morning we finished repairing the trailer, which was started last week.  After this was completed, Mike and Emily started tidying and organising the tools, so that we know what needs repairing or replacing.

David set to work making some more stroage racks for tools and chopping wood for kindling.  The 'Tuesday Gang' will also be please to hear that he has replaced the handle on the pitchfork!

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Christmas Party

Thursday, December 15th 2011

The Foxglove Christmas party was once again well attended with 54 guests arriving to dine in style at Wathgill. Live music by the Compass Rose Ceilidh band created the perfect atmosphere.

Christmas Dinner

As usual, the food was fantastic and the service was excellent, a real credit to the kitchen staff.

Compass Rose

The band were joined by Tony who played his electronic bagpipes.

Bagpipes

Adam's quiz was a real challenge and Sylvia was even caught measuring her drinks glass to estimate the size of a hole on the golf course!

All the trimmings

Stan and Amy's hard work paid off as the raffle made an incredible £160. Thank you to everyone who donated prizes and well done to all of the winners.

Raffle prizes

Congratulations to Beryl for these beautifully decorated eggs that won the competition (sadly there was no competition as this was the only entry)! Belted Galloway cows with a sign to say 'Please eat the grass'!

Belty eggs

The evening finished with a bit of Ceilidh dancing for those who felt able to get up after such a huge feast.

Ceilidh dancing

Thank you to everyone involved for your support and a Merry Christmas from the Foxglove team.

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Christmas Willow Weaving

Tuesday, December 13th 2011

The annual traditional wreath making session (in conjunction with Plantlife) was a success yet again. Fifteen people took part. For the first time, the event was a full day and began with a walk to collect natural materials including Birch, Willow and Holly.

Foraging

After a hot drink and a mince pie, the first round frames were built.

Making wreaths

Everyone brought some food to share for lunch which was a real feast.

Christmas fayre

At the end of the day, there were some beautiful creations!

Wreaths

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Winter flowers!

Saturday, December 10th 2011

Ann and Elizabeth carried out their monthly flower walk and recorded five species.  Their walk took them along Risedale Beck where the winter sun was shining through the trees.

Winter sunshine

A debate took place as to whether this frosted Honeysuckle flower actually counted as being in flower. 

Frosted Honeysuckle

Gorse was another flower recorded and it was interesting to see that the 7 Spot Ladybirds were still in residence, even though there were frozen water droplets around them!

7 Spot Ladybird in Gorse

By the afternoon the wind had dropped and the temperature was falling, allowing some of the puddles to be covered in a thin film of ice. A touch of pink in the sky could be seen through the Ash trees.

Pink sky through the Ash trees

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Staying Warm

Wednesday, December 7th 2011

More snow fell last night turning the reserve into a real winter wonderland.

Winter scene

In spite of very cold temperatures, twelve volunteers worked hard to finish preparing an area for tree-planting. Physical excersion kept away the worst of the cold but the bonfires provided welcome heat during breaks.

warming hands

The access road is passable with care but please check before bringing your car up to the Field centre.

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First Snow

Tuesday, December 6th 2011

With the first snow fall of the winter, Foxglove was certainly looking, and feeling festive!  On our weekly site walk, the moorland looked beautiful, glistening in the freshly fallen snow.

Moorland Walk

As we walked around the wetland the sky looked very heavy with snow, and sure enough, as we got back to the centre thick wet flakes started to fall.

Hot chocolate time!

It's only one week now until the Foxglove Covert Christmas Party on the 14th, held at Wathgill.  The cost is £13 for a three course dinner, with music from local folk band Compass Rose, raffles and quizzes.  If you would like to book a place please contact Adam or Sophie, or see the events section of the website.

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A Cold Day

Monday, December 5th 2011

An early morning walk saw the sun rising as the ringers put up the nets.  A cold but sunny day was forecast.

Rising sun

Without the smoke, the area where all the work was carried out yesterday, looked very good.  It will soon be ready for replanting.  A huge thank you to everyone who helped with this work.

The cleared plantation

Early morning rain had left sparkling droplets on trees and berries.

Water droplet on branch

Water droplet on Sloe berry

During the sunny morning good numbers of birds were processed including many new continental Blackbirds and 18 Goldfinches!  As the day wore on the clouds built and then quite unexpectedly sleet started to rain down.   Nets were quickly emptied of birds and had to be temporarily closed, but this had hardly been achieved when the sun came back out again!  There was a period of reasonable weather but then more sleet arrived so the nets were taken down. 

As the staff and ringers left the reserve scrapers and de-icers were needed on the windscreens! 

Although the weather was not ideal over 200 birds were processed including Siskin, Marsh Tit, Reed Bunting, Redwing, Lesser Redpoll and Goldcrest.  The total of new birds ringed at Foxglove this year now stands at over 3700!

 

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Second Worky Day

Sunday, December 4th 2011

As always, during the winter there is plenty of work to do.  30 people young and not quite so young arrived at the newly cut plantation to continue clearing it.

Newly felled plantation

First job to get the fires going.

Getting the fire started

Everyone was soon hard at work.

Burning the brash

It was cold,  the wind was blustery and when the rain drops fell they too were cold, but there were some beautiful rainbows.

Rainbow

The children helped to light the last bonfire.

Children lighting the bonfire

By the time we finished working the sun was setting.

Setting sun

There will be more photographs on show in the Field Centre next week.

 

 

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Working Beetles

Thursday, December 1st 2011

Volunteers were at work again in Foxglove today.  The work was varied, including checking and inputting data, stock taking, path edging and the continued clearance of trees that had fallen at the weekend.

A conifer that had been damaged and broken near the Bluebell bank in the woodland, was taken down.  As the trunk and branches were moved it was noticed that the wood contained many holes and signs of beetle larvae.  Upon further investigation a beetle was found and carefully picked up and moved to a safer part of the trunk. Emily - who carried out the rescue mission - was rewarded with a substantial bite!!

To photograph this beetle flash had to be used and surprisingly it was moving quite quickly. 

Two Banded Longhorn Beetle

Further hunting found a second adult and on the photograph below you can see the long antennae and the mouth parts.

Two Two Banded Longhorn Beetles

This species is Rhagium bifasciatum.  It usually lays its eggs in dead conifer wood, and the larvae eat the wood, so recycling the nutrients.  The larvae can remain in the wood, tunneling their way through it for up to two years before they pupate.  Woodpeckers enjoy feasting on the larvae.  The holes in the wood indicate that the beetles have matured and left.  Adults may be seen on Hawthorn and Angelica as they both have fairly sturdy heads for the beetles to stand on.  Pollen is the food of the adult beetles.

Continued work to tidy up the fallen tree dislodged one of the larva - a beautiful creature - depending on your point of view!!

Two Banded Longhorn Beetle larva

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