(25) Blog Posts Made in January 2012

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A Walk in the Woods

Tuesday, January 31st 2012

We were walking the woodland this morning deciding and prioritsing jobs that need completing before the winter is over.  With the clear fell area still to re-plant, maintenance on the wetland and scrub clearance, there is still plenty to keep us out of mischief before spring is here.

The woodland is starting to feel more active again, with male catkins easliy seen on Hazel, and if examined closely female catkins which look very similar to leaf buds, only with vivid red styles 1-3mm showing at the tip.  These cones were found near to the top of the tank tracks.  The seeds they contain are an important food source for many animals, these ones here have been eaten by Grey Squirrels.  If you look carefully as you walk along the woodland walk there are several feeding sites, littered with damaged cone axes and gnawed off scales.

Birds Nest Fungus

Also we found this group of Birds Nest Fungus on decaying wood.  This beautiful fungus is only about 6mm across.  Immature examples have a cover to protect the developing 'eggs' (peridioles containing the spores).  This splits away as maturity is reached, revealing white eggs which contain the spores.  The spores are dispersed by rain or water droplets falling from foliage above,  the cup is just the right shape that as the water drop hits the bottom it has enough force to disperse the eggs and their spores up to one metre away.

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A Surprise

Monday, January 30th 2012

The wetland ponds were frozen this morning.

View from the wetland

Foxglove leaves were coated in frost.

Frost on Foxglove leaves

And the splashes from this fast rushing stream had caused icicles to form on the vegetation.

Icicles on vegetation

Cold weather meant that the birds had emptied the feeders over the last few days so the bird ringers refilled them.

Bird feeder being refilled

Due to the very cold temperatures net rounds were carried out frequently and birds returned to the ringing room.  Lesser Redpolls, Reed Buntings, Long-tailed Tits and Siskins were amongst those birds processed.  And then quite a surprise - two Crossbills had been caught!  Although regularly heard and seen on the reserve this species is rarely caught in the nets and these two were only the 7th and 8th ringed at Foxglove. This is a young female.

Female Crossbill

The young male is more colourful.  You can see their crossed bills which they use to extract the seeds from pine cones.

Male Crossbill

 By the end of the day 200 birds had been processed, adding to the large amount of data already collected over the past 19 years.

 

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Sunshine and Eco Club

Sunday, January 29th 2012

Due to human error there are no photographs of Eco Club today!  Our aim was to build a log pile that could be used by the children who visit the reserve with their schools.  Usually log piles are built and then left alone.  The one we made today will be able to be investigated to see who is living there, snails and slugs, woodlice and maybe even a toad or two. 

Firstly we set off and collected twigs and branches, leaf mould and moss, wood chippings and rotting wood in the conifer woodland and some of the cleared area along Risedale Beck.  After refreshments and a little warm up, we headed up to the Outdoor Classroom and chose a suitable site next to the bug hotel.  Using some larger logs already there, we built the log pile and then the smaller material was added in the holes and spaces around it.  We talked about the creatures who would live there.  Eco Club will visit this on future meetings to see how it is developing.  Thank you very much to everyone for their hard work.

On leaving the Outdoor Classroom we took the long way back to the Field Centre and looked at other log piles in the newly felled area.  A piece of bright red rubbish was spotted but before it was picked up we realised that it was Scarlet Elf Cap fungus.

Scarlet Elf Cap fungus

A moorland walk, later in the afternoon saw a 'sundog' (a parhelia) .  These are formed when the low sun catches the ice crystals in cold cirrus clouds.

Sun dog

The beautiful sunny day was enjoyed by many visitors.

 

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A Day in the Life

Friday, January 27th 2012

As Elizabeth left last night she captured this great photo of a Roe Deer on the access track, just near to the heathland.  Along this stretch of the access track it is always worth keeping an eye out for deer as they are frequently spotted here.

Roe Deer by heathland

Richard, one of the Tuesday volunteers has kindly made this video as an insight into what a days volunteering at Foxglove entails. 

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1 CS Bn REME Work Party

Thursday, January 26th 2012

This afternoon saw 35 volunteers from 1 CS Bn Royal Electrical and Mechanical Engineers come to help us work on the clear fell area.  The first job was getting the fires started to burn the remains of the brash.  Soon these were burning well, and finally the area was ready for replanting!

Twsited Fire Starters

After a crash course, the soldiers made easy work of planting and staking Scots Pine along the top edge of the site.

This band of trees will act as a wind break, sheltering the lake, and will continue the corridor of Scots Pine that already borders the moorland and wetland.

Almost 100 trees were planted this afternoon and BFBS (British Forces Broadcasting Service) came to film the action and interview for forces TV and radio.

Hopefully a good time was had by all and the group will return to help us plant up another section of the clear fell area later.  We are very grateful to them all for their hard work and enthusiasm.

By the end of the winter the site should be completely filled with a diverse mix of native trees, and will soon heal over and recover.

Arte and Marte ......and Party!

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Let There Be Light!

Wednesday, January 25th 2012

Fifteen volunteers came to help today clearing scrub and opening out the willow carr outside the Field Centre, despite the wintery weather.  The area was thick with birch saplings, and densely crowded with willow stems.

Before we started

As the area was cleared, small ponds and beautiful old willow stools were rediscovered.  The pictures here show the difference one days work has made.  As the new willow grows, the remaining stems will be coppiced over a few years to reduce the overall height and minimise the disturbance.

After a tiring days work

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A Sunny Day

Tuesday, January 24th 2012

The sun was shining again this morning and with gentler winds it certainly felt a little warmer.  Simon has worked hard to repair the areas that were damaged when the felled wood was removed from the reserve.   This photo shows the newly levelled area and as the days lengthen and the temperature rises so it will become green again.

Newly levelled pathway

On the moor this Hawthorn tree was showing off its twisted trunk and branches in the sunshine.

Old Hawthorn tree on the moor

We eagerly await the results of all the hard work on the middle moor at the end of the Summer.  Today, with long shadows over it, it was looking spectacular!

Middle moor

Sunset was just caught on this photo.

Sunset

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An Early Morning Walk

Monday, January 23rd 2012

Early morning Winter sunshine bathed the Outdoor Classroom.

Outdoor Classroom

The strong cold wind was blowing in the showers, but they did provide a rainbow.

Rainbow

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The Heligoland Trap

Saturday, January 21st 2012

In the early years of bird ringing at Foxglove Covert the Heligoland Trap was used regularly to catch birds.  Over recent years it has rarely been operated and even with some coppicing, the trees and other vegetation had taken over and in some areas had caused damage to the netting. Last year work was carried out to restore the trap and the mesh was largely repaired.  Today John and Tom returned the feeders to encourage the birds to enter the trap.

Feeder in Heligoland trap

Hopper in Heligoland Trap

Hopefully it will soon be able to be used again to collect the birds for ringing.

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Clear Fell Update

Friday, January 20th 2012

Work is almost finished now at the clear fell area by the lake.  Contractors were in removing the last of the felled timber and making good the damage to the site made by the machinery.  David, one of our regular volunteers, was also in helping to move logs, and finished burning brash that had been trapped under the remaining timber.

Timber Extraction

The new trees that have been ordered are mostly on site now, so it is important to have the ground finally cleared for next week when we hope that replanting will begin.  Exciting times!!

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A Warmer Day

Thursday, January 19th 2012

The temperature rose during the night and it was much warmer as Ann and Elizabeth set off for their flower walk around the reserve.  The leaves of many flowers are growing and could be identified, but there were very few flower heads, which is to be expected in January!  However, Daisy, Dandelion,  Shepherd's Purse and Gorse were recorded.

Meanwhile Mike and Tony were busy filling the hoppers and then clearing brash.

Although there was still ice on the ponds in the Scrapes, a diving beetle with his air bubble was clearly visible as he swam around.  In another pond the Sticklebacks could be seen.  Nuthatch, Great Spotted Woodpecker, Blackbird and Brambling were all seen feeding in the back garden.

The late afternoon winter sun caught these Silver Birch trees along the side of the heath.

Silver Birch

And maybe a hint of spring to come with this willow bud just beginning to burst.

Willow bud just beginning to burst

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Glade Creation

Wednesday, January 18th 2012

Fifteen volunteers were in today, helping us to open an area that previously was thickly covered in blackthorn and overgrown with ash.  The 'before' picture shows just how dense the vegetation was before we started work this morning.

Before

By the time we finished the sun was setting and the area had been transformed to an open glade.  The light flooding the area will encourage the growth of wild flowers throughout the spring and summer.  It will be interesting to see what starts to grow here as the weather warms.

After

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A Cold Frosty Day

Monday, January 16th 2012

It was very cold and frosty, as the bird ringers met for their early morning cup of tea before heading out.  Some of the net poles had frozen and a kettle of hot water was needed to part them so the nets could be put up.

Frost had coated the vegetation and trees making the reserve look spectacular.

Frost on the reserve

On closer examination the patterns of frost on the vegetation made for a magical world in miniature.   These two photographs show the frost covering Bramble leaves.

Bramble leaf and frost

Bramble leaves covered in frost

This seed head of Self Heal has a beautiful arrangement of frost and ice.

Self Heal seed head covered in frsot

Net rounds were carried out frequently to make sure that no birds were left in the nets for long as it was so cold.  Over 250 birds were caught including many retraps of birds ringed previously.  The data collected from these birds gives interesting insights into their lives and some are repeatedly found at Foxglove in only January of each year.  Over 40 adult Chaffinches were processed, one of them was eight years old, and there were other small songbirds over four years old.  A six year old Blackbird was also caught.  Birds that were ringed today included Siskin, Goldfinch, Wren and Reed Bunting.

Although the frost lifted during the day the temperature had dropped below freezing as staff and ringers departed.

 

 

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Team Thursday

Friday, January 13th 2012

Jobs carried out by volunteers today include more Hazel coppicing, filling the potholes on the access road, levelling out steps in the woodland and repairing the suspended bird feeder at the lake hide.

Nyger Seed Feeders

These feeders are for nyger seed and prior to being torn down by the gale force winds attracted Goldfinches and Siskin. Hopefully, these will return quickly.

Repairing the feeders

Thank you to team Thursday for another busy day!

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Team Tuesday

Wednesday, January 11th 2012

The Tuesday volunteers continued the work along the beck and tidied up after the worky day team (some people were in both days)!

The Tuesday Team

Adam tested out the new chainsaw and coppiced more hazel.

New chainsaw

By the end of the day everyone was exhausted and enjoyed a well earned rest by the bonfire.

Watching the fire go down

A huge amount of work has been completed and everbody will sleep well tonight!

A weary team

Whilst clearing in this area a beautiful moss was observed. It has been identified as Plagiomnium undulatum - hart's tongue thyme-moss.The stems are green and narrow and the undulating leaves are characteristic.

Plagiomnium undulatum - Hart's Tongue Thyme-moss

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Hazel Coppice

Tuesday, January 10th 2012

Work today has again concentrated on the hazel coppice, continuing from the Winter Worky Day last Saturday.  There is still a lot of work to do clearing away the cut hazel and blackthorn.  With the sun shining through the canopy, the area really is looking fantastic!

Before the coppicing work here the hazel stools were overstood, creating a densely shaded woodland, relatively low in biodiversity.  Coppiced areas are higher in biodiversity, with many open-woodland species present, the increased light to the ground will allow stronger growth of the wildflowers found in this area such as primrose, bluebell and wood anemone.  Brambles are often found growing at the base of recently coppiced stools, these can provide protection for the stool from deer grazing and encourage smaller mammals and insects into the area.  Fritillary butterflies are also commonly associated with coppiced areas.

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First Bird Ringing Day of 2012

Monday, January 9th 2012

A lovely morning greeted the bird ringers on their first ringing day of 2012.  The wind had dropped considerably.

A beautiful morning

These Roe Deer were walking along the moorland fence and not being blown away!

Roe Deer

During the day the weather remainded calm and dry and the birds were removed from the nets and processed in the ringing room.  Visitors saw a Treecreeper and a Great Spotted Woodpecker in the hand whilst children took the opportunity to release some Chaffinches under supervision.

Several new Coal Tits were ringed.  It has already been mentioned on the blog that the number of Coal Tits ringed at Foxglove has increased over the years.  In 1993, the first full year of ringing, 31 Coal Tits were ringed and in 2011 there were 232!  The reasons for this increase were discussed and included feeding and the fact that nest boxes had been put up around the reserve that the Coal Tits have used.  At least one of the Coal Tits retrapped today was over 5 years old.

Coal Tit

By the end of the day over 150 birds had been processed and the number of Chaffinches ringed on the reserve had topped the 7000 mark.

Dusk was just falling as the staff and volunteers left - the days are lengthening!

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New Year Worky Day

Sunday, January 8th 2012

A record number of volunteers gave up their Saturday to work on habitat improvement across the Reserve. Due to the unusually high turnout we were able to field three separate teams which allowed much-needed tasks to be completed. The 'Kingfisher' team finished creating two new net rides which will be in use from tomorrow onwards.

New net ride

Down at the clear fell site the 'Firecrests' tidied up the remains of the recent windblow which had occurred during the last week. Despite this being tedious work, it was essential to allow the re-planting to get underway.

Bonfire banter

The 'Grey Squirrels' continued to coppice the Hazel along the banks of Risedale Beck and shredded the stems to make woodchip for the path that was edged by the mid-week volunteers.

Timberwolf

An area of dense Blackthorn was tackled as well, although there remains much to be completed next week.

Grey squirrels

The 'Fox' team soon became expert at solving 'technical glitches' with the chipper as you can see here.

Chipper maintenance

However, for most of the day it was at full tilt.

The fox team

The young 'Otters' surfaced a muddy path with the woodchips in no time at all!

The Otter Team

Thanks go to everyone who participated for an extremely productive day.

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Reed Bunting Roost

Saturday, January 7th 2012

This male Reed Bunting was caught at the roost in the reed bed late this afternoon.  Still in its winter plumage the black crown is not so distinct, but the white neck band was really clear.

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Welcome to the 21st Century!

Saturday, January 7th 2012

We now have an official facebook page! Check it out to 'like' Foxglove Covert.  We will be posting all the events on here in addition to the website and adding galleries to show which wildlife has been seen and all that has been going on at the reserve.  The link is: www.facebook.com/FoxgloveLNR

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New Year Guided Walk

Friday, January 6th 2012

This morning 23 people joined us for a guided walk around the reserve.  Some had been before, but not for a number of years, so we showed them many of the recent developments around the site, including the outdoor classroom, where the children enjoyed playing with the dam and exploring the bug hotel.

We were even lucky enough to see a blackcap on one of the feeding stations around the lake.  We hope that everyone had an enjoyable morning with us and will be back again to visit soon!

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Waste Not Want Not

Thursday, January 5th 2012

Using the hazel coppiced yesterday, edging has been placed to resurface part of the woodland walk path, in preparation for the chipping to be laid down on the January Worky Day.

We try to use as much of the 'waste' material as possible on site.  From the coppicing yesterday, the largest sections are used as edging, smaller branches are cut and used as pegs to hold these in place, then the rest of the material will be chipped for use as infill.

Robin, the forester, has been in to help us deal with some of the windblown fir trees that fell in the high winds over the last few days.  The root plates are now safely down, though there is still some work to done here repairing the path and clearing the brash.

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The ExtremeTeam!

Wednesday, January 4th 2012

In spite of the stormy weather conditions, eleven volunteers came to help out with practical conservation work. A sheltered spot was found close to the beck and a start was made on coppicing some of the Hazel.

Coppicing the Hazel

This is done selectively along the banks of Risedale Beck with only two thirds of the stool being removed. This will ensure that there is dappled light in this area throughout the spring and should benefit flowers such as Primroses and Bluebells.

Hazel coppice

The thick cut stems will be used to edge a footpath and the thinner ones will be made into hurdles. Other branches will be shredded to make woodchips to surface a pathway. Later on, attention was turned to thinning out Blackthorn.

The Blackthorn team!

After lunch, there was a walk down to the lake to look at the newly fallen trees. The recent high winds have sadly claimed more mature conifers.

Storm damage

In this case, Grand Firs. You can see from the photo below just how big and shallow the root plates are. All of this damage will be repaired over the coming weeks.

Big root plates

Down at the lake, the weir is spectacular!

Grand Fir root plates

 

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2011 Bird Ringing at Foxglove

Tuesday, January 3rd 2012

Some details about the bird ringing at Foxglove Covert have been collated at the end of 2011.

2011 was the best CES (Constant Effort Site) year and the best year ever for numbers of new birds. 3756 new birds were ringed, the next best was 3488 in 2007. 

We had two new species: the Yellow-browed Warbler and the Common Redpoll.

It was the worst equal year for a few species including Kingfisher and surprisingly Dunnock!

It was the best year for many species including Stock Dove, Redstart (13), Blackcap, of which 98 were ringed, Chiffchaff and Pied Flycatcher. 357 Blue Tits were ringed along with 232 Coal Tits (when ringing was first carried out at Foxglove, there were few Coal Tits in residence). Nine Magpies and 18 Jackdaws were also ringed.  248 Bramblings (only a few have been seen so far this winter), 71 Goldfinch, 326 Lesser Redpolls and three Common Crossbills were ringed.

Thanks go to all the bird ringers who have spent many hours ringing to achieve these totals.

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Happy New Year

Sunday, January 1st 2012

A new calendar year, the shortest day already in the past, and soon we can look forward to spring.  Today the Honeysuckle buds are bursting and catkins are covering the Hazel trees. Yesterday the ringers put out another 6 large boxes to accommodate the very vocal Tawny Owls.

Hazel Catkins

Seed heads, like this one of Self Heal, will soon be replaced by new leaves and in the mild weather green leaves are pushing through the soil all over the reserve.

Seed head of Self Heal

Best wishes for a Happy New Year!

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