(23) Blog Posts Made in September 2012

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Bedale Car Boot Sale and Coffee Morning

Sunday, September 30th 2012

It was an early start for volunteers as they set up for the Car Boot Sale at Bedale.  There were many different things for sale and the team behind the stalls were kept extremely busy.

Car Boot Sale

For volunteers helping at the Coffee morning, it was a slightly later start. 

Coffee Morning volunteers

As usual the tombola was well supported.

Tombola

Back at Foxglove children attending Eco Club were supposed to be looking for signs of autumn but were waylaid looking at the damage the water had done earlier in the week and viewing insects.  They saw many darters sunbathing and were very lucky to see two Emperor Dragonflies hunting over the pond at the second pond dipping platform.  A tiny Cream Spotted Ladybird was seen and some small spiders were having breakfast!

They looked at an orb web spider and viewed it in close-up on the camera screen.

Viewing the spider

This week the blog has shown volunteers carrying out a whole variety of different tasks:  from mending paths to baking cakes, digging ditches, filling feeders, and today supporting Foxglove by helping out at the Car Boot Sale and Coffee Morning.  A huge thanks goes to everyone who has helped out this week. 

As an afternote the total raised at Bedale was £593 51:  it included £440.77 raised at the sale, £62.00 from the Tombola and £100.74 from the Coffee Morning.  Pse see comment below.

 

 

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What a Day!

Saturday, September 29th 2012

The day started by sorting out everything ready for the Coffee Morning and Car Boot Sale at Bedale tomorrow.  If you can give some time to help out at either event it would be appreciated.  Setting up at the Car Boot Sale will be from 7am and the Coffee Morning from 8.45am.

Sophie, Adam,Tony and Jonathan then continued with this work whilst Brian collected some cakes and Elizabeth planned the route for Eco Club.  Bird seed was weighed.  On walking around the sheep and cattle were checked and counted. 

The water has subsided but has left its mark in many ways - the dam at the outdoor classroom had to have the stones removed from it.

Stones in the dams

Along the beck there has been considerable damage and change, including the loss of the stone that often had Otter spraint on it. We will have to search for his new marking place.  On a Winter Worky day Colin made two beautiful log piles near the beck side, only one is left intact.

Colin's logpiles

Voluteers have repeatedly repaired the dam this year, so that water can fill the pond.  A difficult job awaits them as the dam will have to be rebuilt almost from scratch.

The washed out dam

Autumn signs can be seen around the reserve.

Autumn colours

However the darters are still flying in the sunshine and sunning themselves on boardwalks, paths and logs.

Darter sunbathing

A Buzzard was heard and seen being mobbed by crows. Later another Buzzard was seen in the woodland near Risedale Beck.  Speckled Wood butterflies were also on the wing. 

New visitors and old friends enjoyed walking around the reserve and were delighted to see the Kingfisher on the Lake.

Cakes are being baked for tomorrow, as this blog is published!  A huge thank you to everyone who has helped in so many ways this week.

And finally Tony Cooper is the 100 club winner!

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Path Repair

Thursday, September 27th 2012

An eager team of volunteers arrived in the early morning sun to help out repairing flood damaged paths along the Easy-Access Route and Risedale Beck.

Stone was barrowed around the reserve to the damaged bridges and washed out paths.  With everyone working hard the Red Route was soon back in action.  Attention was then turned to repair work along Risedale Beck; this route is now back to normal as well.

The recent flooding has highlighted some drainage issues around a few of the paths.  Another of the jobs completed today was opening up old overgrown channels and pipes to help clear the waterlogged ground.  Thank you to everyone who has been in to help today, the reserve has certainly benefited.

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Path Damage

Tuesday, September 25th 2012

The water levels are quickly starting to drop back down to near normal levels, though with more heavy rain forecast overnight we are expecting more damage when we arrive here tomorrow.

Bridge Damage

Many of the bridges and paths have almost been completely washed away.  Repairing these will be a priority over the coming days - if anyone has any time to spare and would like to help us out please come and join our volunteer day on Thursday!

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Washed Away

Tuesday, September 25th 2012

The reserve has been transformed by the heavy rain falling over the last 36 hours.

Woodland Waterfall

Small streams in the woodland have become dramatic waterfalls.

Quicksand Bridge

Bridges that are usually two foot above the ground are now only just poking above the high water levels.

Woodland Path

Woodland paths now more resemble streams.

As does the whole of the path alongside Risedale Beck.

The beck has burst its bank in many places, knocking over small trees and gouging out deep trenches in the stone paths.

All of the channels under the bridges were blocked, and were cleaned out as well as we could manage to help the water drain away.

The Weir

Down at the lake the water is up at least 3 feet higher than normal, flowing over the bridge at the weir.

The amount of water moving through Foxglove is immense; in 20 years the flooding here has never been as bad.

The reserve managers had to take a walk across the weir to check out the condition of the path.

Volunteers still turned out to help us assess the damage despite the dire conditions.  They all now have very wet feet.  Thank you for your help today, we hope you dry out soon!

 

 

 

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Foxglove Bodgers

Monday, September 24th 2012

Sunday saw the first meeting of the new Foxglove Bodgers group, who tried their hands at green woodworking and rope making.  Many of the members were new to these crafts, but by the end of the day had learnt many new skills.

At the pole lathe

The group is going to be meeting monthly on the reserve - the next meeting is on Sunday 21st October.  If you are interested in participating contact Adam or Sophie in the Field Centre.

There are several projects planned, the first is to construct a pole lathe for the use of the group to create rustic bowls and decorative items.  Rope making was also attempted with several dog leads made during the course of the day.

Rope Making

Many thanks go to Chris, Dave and Chris for organising such a successful day.

On a walk to the Wetland Hide last week Andy Dobbs spotted this Great Crested Newt running down the boardwalk.  You can just make out the bright orange underside of the newt.  During the breeding season the males develop large crests and have pronounced white stripes down the side of their tales. 

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A Good Day

Monday, September 24th 2012

It was a 0700 start for the bird ringers.  The dew, on closer inspection was frost!  Spider's webs covered the Heather and Juniper trees on the heath.

Spider's webs and frost on the heath

Mist formed whilst photographs were taken and out of the gloom, crossing the road was a female Roe Deer who then jumped over the Beech hedge and bounded through the Heather, an amazing sighting!!  Unfortunately the only photograph taken did not show her well.

Net rounds returned birds including Bullfinch, Chiffchaff, Reed Bunting, Goldcrest and Lesser Redpoll.  The data collected helps us to find out more about the lives of the birds and today we had a Robin which was 4 years old and a Willow Tit which was over 6 years old.

It was 20 years ago exactly that ringing began on the reserve and to date 50 thousand new birds of 79 different species have been ringed.  Including retrapped birds and recoveries of birds ringed elsewhere 90 thousand birds have been processed which has produced a very substantial database allowing all kinds of interrogation.

A surprise capture today was the first Brambling of the year.  This was a beautiful juvenile female bird.

Juvenile female Brambling

This is the earliest date for the return of these winter migrants.  They usually appear much later in the year.

The bird ringers worked hard during the day and over 150 birds were processed.  Volunteers supplied bacon butties, cakes and many cups of tea.  Thank you for all your hard work.

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Autumn Wonders

Friday, September 21st 2012

Recent rainfall has provided excellent conditions for many different species of fungi including this Wrinkled Peach (Rhodotus palmatus). This unmistakable fungus is is unusually coloured with a wrinkled cap surface.

Wrinkled Peach

Conifer Blueing Bracket (Postia caesia) Fungus is less common and a deeper blue than Blueing Bracket fungus and is found only on the dead woods of conifers. This can be seen on the many habitat piles of rotting wood throughout the woodland trails. Thank you to Brian for the photographs.

Blueing Bracket

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Fungal Foray

Thursday, September 20th 2012

Our annual Fungal Foray with local exert Keith Thomas is on Saturday 20th October.  There will be a guided walk to discover which fungi are out on the reserve.  Find out which are poisonous and which are edible - all will be revealed!

Fly Agaric

As always booking is essential as places on the walk are limited.  You can book you place through the events section of the website or by contacting Sophie or Adam.

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The Fox and the Shrew!

Wednesday, September 19th 2012

Pupils from Carnagill Community Primary School visited today and explored and discovered what Foxglove has to offer in Autumn. They went on a nature walk, played animal games, dammed the beck at the classroom and did some artwork in the plantation. This handsome fox picture was made by one of the groups!

Artwork

Later in the afternoon this shrew was spotted out and about and was so busy feeding that it was oblivious to the photographer!

Shrew

Hundreds of Common Darter dragonflies and plenty of Speckled Wood butterflies were still on the wing during the sunny spells. The most common moth in the trap this morning was Sallow.

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The Spice of Life!

Tuesday, September 18th 2012

A wide variety of interesting jobs were completed by the Tuesday team! Tasks varied from re-organising a timber store, meeting and greeting visitors, woodland management and checking pipeways to butterfly recording and repairing Water Vole damage!

Vole Hole Repair

The wetland is managed so that the water flows across seven different levels and then back into the reserve. The design is such that if there is a lot of rain then any excess water will flow to Risedale Beck and prevent flooding. However, the Water Voles keep on creating holes through one of the bunds and re-directing all of the water away from the site! Hopefully, they will now be persuaded to dig elsewhere and allow the water levels to return to their correct heights.

Naughty Voles

Thank you to all of the Foxglove volunteers for your continued support.

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A Blustery Day

Tuesday, September 18th 2012

The weather was cold and warm, windy and not so windy, sunny and dark!  However when the sun did appear so did the insects.  The darters were basking on the boardwalk and logs, a Red Admiral and a Peacock butterfly were seen around the Hemp Agrimony. Bees were flying amongst the flowers seeking nectar and this hoverfly was feeding on Fleabane.

Hoverfly on Fleabane

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A Lovely Surprise!

Monday, September 17th 2012

Some time ago a request was made to the John Spedan Lewis Foundation.  This was set up in 1964 by the John Lewis Partners to commemorate the life and interests of the founder of the John Lewis Partnership, John Spedan Lewis.  They provide funding for projects in horticulture, ornithology, entomology, environmental education and conservation, with preference given to small projects with an educational content.

Our funding request was for various materials to help with bird ringing.  Our application was succesful and a variety of nets, rings, strings and bags were ordered from the BTO.  This morning the box was unpacked by Sally and Sandra.

Unpacking the box!

It was like Christmas morning as each package and parcel was checked and examined, with explanations from Tony as to the use of certain items.

More pressies!

The ringing team includes people who are just starting their training and those who are more experienced.  Ages range from young to not so young.  Most Sundays throughout the year they can be seen in the ringing room, weather permitting.  Normally it is a dawn start, which can be very early during the summer months, and the nets are up for several hours.  During the spring they check many nest boxes on the reserve and the training area.  They also ring on a variety of other sites around Catterick and, of course, not forgetting the visit to Cape Wrath.

Visitors are always welcome in the ringing room where the process is explained.  Information concerning the data collected is on display and other facts that we learn from ringed birds is discussed.

The items we have been able to purchase will help and be well used in the continued work of ringing birds and collecting data. We are very grateful to the John Spedan Lewis Foundation for their help.

Although the weather forecast was not very good for today, ringing went ahead.  It was a busy day with over 190 birds processed.  Twenty two Chiffchaffs were caught and these are likely to be some from further north on their journey south.  Greenfinches were numerous and these included two females who were still busy with their young.  Other species included 4 Blackcaps, 2 late Willow Warblers, 8 Goldcrests, 29 Coal Tits, 27 Chaffinches, 4 Lesser Redpolls and 16 Bullfinches.  Altogether 21 species were caught.

Thank you to everyone who helped today, not only with ringing but those who kept the tea, cakes, scones, biscuits and jelly babies readily available!

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Autumn flowers

Sunday, September 16th 2012

Although Autumn is coming and some of the leaves are beginning to turn, the flowers are still making a show.

Devil's Bit Scabious, the only scabious we have at Foxglove, is growing along the paths and through the Scrapes. 

Devil's Bit Scabious

Betony flowers in early summer and continues through into the Autumn.

Betony

Purple Loosestrife can be seen in the reeds.

Purple Loosestrife

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Bedale Coffee Morning and Car Boot Sale

Friday, September 14th 2012

On Saturday 29th September come and support Foxglove in Bedale’s Chantry Hall and at the Bedale Car Boot Sale in the field opposite.

There will be delicious homemade cakes, a tombola and raffle at the coffee morning. Donations of baking and prizes can be left at the Field Centre up until the 28th September or taken to Bedale on the day. The coffee morning starts at 9am.

The car boot sale starts at 6am! and finishes at noon. Please let us know if you can spare any time to help out on the day or beforehand to sort out the sale items. Donations of bric-a-brac can be left at the Field Centre during opening hours between now and then.

Coffee and Cakes

Please come along and support us on the day if you can and help to sell a little 'sizzle' about your favourite place!

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Thursday Team Go Batty!

Friday, September 14th 2012

The morning sunshine and white fluffy clouds changed to a dark threatening sky with cool blustery winds and rain at times but this did not deter the Thursday Team from continuing and completing the task set for them!  They had been given a clipboard and pencil, a map and a chart  and not forgetting the ladder, their job was to check the bat boxes for inhabitants, bats or other things!

This is not easy as the boxes are spread around the reserve and are often away from the paths.  It was also a time to check that the boxes were in good repair and to clean them.

Unlike bird boxes, the bat boxes are usually together in twos or threes.  Bats like to be able to move from one box to another during day if the temperature rises or falls.

A late lunch saw many boxes checked and reports of a wasp's nest and more curious, some of the boxes were filled with moss.  There was no hole in the moss suggesting mice, or a depression that may have been a Wren. 

There was disappointment that no bats had been found.  However with waterproofs donned they set off into the wild wind to finish their task.  (Tony suggested that they could not go home till they had done so)!  Up the ladders yet again.

Up the ladder again!

And again and again!  Then Garth opened a box and hey presto a bat!

Pipistrelle Bat

You can see that the back of the box has small grooves cut into it and this allows the bats to find purchase with their hind legs and so hang upside down warm and comfy during the day. They leave these roosts in the evening to hunt insects.  They do not hibernate in these boxes, only using them during the summer months.

Another box was checked and again another bat.  If you look carefully at the photographs you can see their small ears, their five toes on their back feet and along side their body the wings tucked close in.

Pipistrelle Bat

The photographs were taken quickly and the lids replaced so causing no disturbance to the bats, leaving them to rest until dusk.

After a long day in the field the weary team of Tony, Garth, Mike and David, returned to the Field Centre for a well deserved cup of tea.  They displayed their clip board and map with pride!

Team Thursday

Whilst all this hard work was being carried out other volunteers completed some indoor jobs, helped rake a meadow, clear under the hopper in the back garden, and Brian moved and burnt brash in the woodland.

Volunteering at Foxglove is always fun and the tasks given are varied. Discussion at lunch included tasks for the future - tool maintenance and counting of tools, (this a very wet day job) repairing punctures, seed stocktaking and raking the middle moor.  Without all their hard work in so many areas Foxglove would not be the very special place she is.

Thank you all for your help today.

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Trail Blazing

Wednesday, September 12th 2012

Recent rain and sunshine has meant excellent growing conditions for grasses and reeds. The blustery winds have pulled phragmites over net rides and footpaths creating a lot of work. Here is a 'before' photo of the trail behind the reed bed in the scrapes!

Before Photo

The strimmer made light work of the task making the routes accessible once again.

After

During the sunny spells (there were also several heavy showers) butterflies were sighted. This Red Admiral was captured by Elizabeth. A group of visitors enjoyed photographing the Kingfisher on the lake which has been perching on the hand rail over the weir to feed on its prey!

Red Admiral

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Habitat Makeover

Tuesday, September 11th 2012

The Tuesday volunteers continued to remove scrub from the heathland. Although a tedious task, the benefits to the wildlife will be significant.

Heathland work

A huge amount of invasive Silver Birch and Gorse were cut down.

Almost finished

Students from the Dales School helped out too and by late afternoon this patch of heather was looking fantastic.

Heathland

Here are the photos from yesterday 'zoomed in' so that it is easier to make out the swimming squirrel!

Squirrel swimming

Thank you to Helen for her allowing us to publish these pictures.

Squirrel

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Unusual Tales of the Riverbank

Monday, September 10th 2012

On Sunday a group of photographers in the lake hide watching out for Kingfishers had a surprise! This mammal was spotted being chased across the lake by a Moorhen.

Swimming Squirrel

Only when it reached the far side was it identified....

squirrel takes a dip

as it climbed up the bank the squirrel was unmistakable!

Strange behaviour

At least two Kingfishers were seen both here and in the scrapes area.

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All Things Bright and Beautiful

Friday, September 7th 2012

Many wildflowers are still at their best and the insects are frantically harvesting the late nectar. This Peacock butterfly was seen close to the pond-dipping platforms on the Common Fleabane.

Peacock

A few metres away a Small Skipper was also making the most of the late summer sunshine.

Small Skipper

Just outside the Field Centre, Richard photographed this Eyed Ladybird which was feeding on aphids on an old log.

Eyed Ladybird

There are still places on Richard's macro photography course tomorrow. If you are interested please go to the Field Centre at 10.00am. The course is all day and costs £25 per person. See the events section for details.

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Big Sheep Little Cow

Thursday, September 6th 2012

Four Dexter Cattle were delivered to their new home on the wetland earlier this week.

These four old ladies have come from Big Sheep Little Cow in Bedale, and will help us to manage the area over the next couple of months.  The habitat here is managed primarily for wading birds; ideally the sward should be short with some longer tussocks to provide shelter and cover.  Grazing during the autumn and at a low density in spring will help provide ideal conditions for the waders to breed.

They seem to be settling in well, and are already eating thier way through the long grasses.

Taking a stroll across the moorland you will find four Belted Galloway cows, and a mixed flock of Herdwick and Swaledale sheep.  Grazing has a beneficial effect on grassland plant communities, through the removal of plant material and creation of bare areas by trampling.  This allows the less competitive species to become established as the cover of the more dominant is reduced, creating more complex and diverse plant communities.  Invertebrates also benefit from good grazing regimes; structural deversity in the sward provides habitat for many different species, and over 250 species of insects have been found on cattle dung in the UK!

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Inside Out

Tuesday, September 4th 2012

The workshop was transformed into a slick assembly line this morning as the hopper seed was bagged up from ten, one-tonne sacks.  It was transferred by the volunteers into smaller sacks for filling the many hoppers around the reserve.  This seed is the waste from harvest of Oil Seed Rape, kindly donated by a local farmer, and generally keeps the birds fed for a year.

Seed bagging!

Everyone worked hard in the dusty conditions and soon over 100 sacks had been filled.

Surgeon Ruth and Nurse Slater

After a well deserved tea break the Tuesday team re-grouped on the heathland to begin clearing some of the dense, overgrown scrub layer.

Hard at work on the heathland

The cleared area is looking much better and the heather will benefit from this work in the coming years.  Thank you everyone for your hard work today!

Little Heather Pixies

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Last CES of 2012

Monday, September 3rd 2012

It was the 240th CES today and not a single one has been missed - although we have come very close on some occasions.  Amazing facts can be worked out from 12 days a year for twenty years, the nets up for ten and a half hours, the amount of miles walked and of course the number of birds ringed.  However it is more difficult to work out the number of pairs of wellies that have been worn out, the number of pieces of music listened to on Classic FM, the amount of milk purchased and the variety of sticky buns eaten!

On a serious note this is a great achievement by the bird ringers and they deserve a huge pat on the back for all their effort.

We await the results of CES 2012 to see what effect the weather has had on the breeding birds, both residents and migrants.

The number of birds processed during this year's CES has been significantly less than the average, especially after a bumper year last year.  However today over 200 birds came through the ringing room, including some older birds as well as juveniles.  Many of the summer migrants are on their journey back to Africa and only a few were seen today.

A surprise early this morning was a call across the radio  'We are bringing a Grey Heron back.'  This was the bird that has been seen in the Scrapes over the last few days.  Small birds such as Wrens and Chiffchaffs weigh in at less than 10g, the heron weighed over 1kg - just a slight difference!

Although herons have been ringed in nests on the training area, this was the first to be actually ringed in Foxglove Covert in 20 years.

As always with unusual birds the names of those ringers who have not already ringed the species were put in the hat and a name drawn.  Today Adam was the lucky one!  Here he is grinning from ear to ear!

Adam with Grey Heron

Later in the day a beautiful adult Willow Tit was processed, nowadays quite a scarce species.

Willow Tit

The very dark damp morning gave way to cloud and then warm sunshine.  The insects made the most of it. Speckled Woods were dancing in the sunlit glades and a Comma was also seen. This Peacock Butterfly sunning itself on a Hardhead flower (this is the rayed variety)  looked newly hatched. 

Peacock butterfly on rayed Hardhead

Overwinter we recorded many species of ladybirds hibernating. They moved around in the early spring sunshine and then they nearly all disappeared.  However in recent days they are being found and so far Kidney Spot, 7 Spot, Larch and this Eyed Ladybird have got their names on the observation board for September.

Eyed Ladybird

 

 

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