(22) Blog Posts Made in December 2012

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Winter Photography

Sunday, December 30th 2012

During the summer there are flowers and insects, bugs and beasties, and not forgetting the creepy crawlies all waiting to be photographed for the blog!!  There are less opportunities for variety during the winter.  However as you walk around look for the intrepid photographer squirrelled away.  What was Brian recording in this willow tree? 

Brian taking photographs

Another fungus! This species had been noticed before Christmas but in the last few days we have been more observant and have found it growing on several willow trees.  It grows along the branches and can be seen quite high up in the trees.  (Well high up for Elizabeth!!))

Fungi on willow

A close up of this fungus shows its beauty.  

Close up of fungi on willow

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Colours

Sunday, December 30th 2012

Winter colours are predominantly blacks and browns, however, especially in damp weather, lichens provide some relief.  This beautiful silvery green lichen was photographed by Brian.

Lichen

Lichens come in a variety of forms, this one is more leaf like.

Green lichen

Hawthorn trees are often covered in lichens, as this photograph shows.  Sometimes several species can be found on one tree.

Hawthor branch and its accompanying lichens.

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Yet More Water!

Saturday, December 29th 2012

After yet more overnight rain, the streams feeding the lake were full.  The sand banks that had been visible earlier in the week were now under water.  Water was leaving the lake over all parts of the weir.  These conditions make life difficult for the Kingfisher.

Risedale Beck was also full.  This Alder tree was hanging on to the bank side but the water had eroded the bank and so the tree, which was partly rotten, had fallen into the beck.  When the water levels fall and it is safe to work here the tree will be removed.  Of course if the water continues to rise so the tree may end up futher downstream!

Fallen Alder tree in the beck

Further upstream another tree now has water running around it.

Tree in beck

It may not be long before this one is also surrunded by water.

Water nearly around the tree

Away from the beck it was noticeable in the Scrapes that the green algae is beginning to grow again.  One lonely Greater Spearwort flower was still showing its colour, yellow against the browns of winter.

Green algae in a Scrapes pond

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A Sunny Respite!

Thursday, December 27th 2012

The heavy rainfall is causing problems for owls as they are unable to feed in the wet weather, but 'our' Buzzards seem to be  well. One was heard calling and then seen flying over the plantation on the way to the wetland.

Jay, Great Spotted Woodpecker, Chaffinch, Bullfinch, Coal Tit, Robin and Reed Bunting  were all seen feeding in the back garden.

Trees in the woodland were lit with morning sunshine.  A respite from the rain which is set to return tomorrow.

Sun shinning through the trees

Our habitat piles are places for many animals to live.  Some older log piles are covered with moss, fungi and a variety of plants including ferns. Ferns produce spores which can take at least a year before they develop into young plants.  The spores germinate best in moist conditons!  These tiny ferns were growing on a moss covered log pile, and could well be over two year old.

Young ferns on a moss covered log pile.

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Winter Fungi

Sunday, December 23rd 2012

Autumn is the season that you associate with fungi.  However as you walk around the reserve at the minute, you can see many different species, all shapes, sizes and colours growing in a variety of habitats.

This fungus below was photographed on a very old, moss covered log pile.  If you look closely you can see the capsules of the moss which will release spores when the conditions are right.

Fungus and moss

Fungi are one of Nature's recyclers.  They are either parasitic, living off another living organism or saprophytic, living on dead organic material.  The nutrients they release are then available for other organisms to use.  This beautiful fungus fruiting body, was one of several different species growing on a dead tree.

Fungi on dead tree

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Christmas Party!

Friday, December 21st 2012

Sixty two volunteers, friends, ringers, wallers and others involved with Foxglove arrived to dine in style at the annual Christmas Dinner.

Glennis' cryptic quiz got everyone thinking throughout the evening - congratulations to Caroline, John and Ann who won after managing to work out 35 of the 40 birds and flowers!

Thank you Glennis for spending the time to make such a challenging and fun quiz.

The food was fantastic as usual, with excellent service, a credit to the kitchen.

The raffle with prizes kindly donated from many volunteers raised a record breaking £251! Thank you to everyone who donated to the hampers, and well done to the winners.  Excellent live music was provided by the Compass Rose Ceilidh Band to entertain us throughout the evening.

For those who felt able after such a good meal, there were a couple of dances to end the night.

Thank you to everyone who has supported Foxglove in any way over the past year, your help is invaluable and makes the reserve the fantastic place that it is.  And finally, we wish you all a very Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year!

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Volunteer Christmas Lunch

Wednesday, December 19th 2012

Gorse bears yellow flowers all year round, and as they say, ‘When gorse is in bloom, kissing is in season.’ On the monthly flower identification walk Elizabeth took this beautiful macro shot.

After a morning spent coppicing and a talk from Tony about the Cape Wrath bird ringing expeditions, volunteers had their Christmas Lunch (only one week to go!).  Everyone brought along something to share and as you can see there was a feast fit for a king!

Soon everybody was tucking in to a well earned meal.

A highlight was Adam's speciality - fig and honey Christmas cake!

Thank you to all of the Foxglove volunteers for their continued support throughout 2012. There will be no further volunteer days after this week until Thursday 3rd January. The next winter worky day is on Saturday 5th January, so why not book a place and take the first step to burning off the Christmas excess! See the events section for further details.

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Weather, Flora and Fauna

Monday, December 17th 2012

Some of the trees on the reserve are covered with Ivy.  It climbs up the bark by using small rootlets that help the stem to cling to the tree.  These can be seen in the photograph below.

Rootlets of Ivy

By this time last year the Ivy was in full flower, providing nectar for insects on the wing during the winter.  This year, it is only now beginning to open and be available as a food source.

Ivy Flower

The weather during the year has had an impact not just on the Ivy, but on much of the flora and fauna.  Today this was highlighted with the data collected from bird ringing.  Over 140 different birds were processed but there were less than 30 new birds; the remainder were birds already ringed, ten of them between 5 and 7 years old.  There were few juveniles caught reflecting the abysmal 2012 breeding season.  This pattern is being seen on many other ringing sites.

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Festive Wreaths

Saturday, December 15th 2012

The annual festive willow weaving took place in the warmth of the classroom today in sharp contrast to the conditions during harvesting yesterday!

Weaving Willow

After a short demonstration, circular frames were constructed from the larger willow whips.

Weaving willow

These were then decorated with all kinds of natural materials gathered from work around the reserve.

weaving

It is always nice to see the variety of designs and ideas people have while decorating their wreaths.

Group photo

Merry Christmas everyone, and thank you for all your support today.

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Who’s idea was this anyway?

Saturday, December 15th 2012

With the annual Christmas wreath making event tomorrow the Reserve Managers headed out in the torrential rain to harvest over 400 whips of willow.

Holly, pine cones, and other greenery has also been collected to be woven into the willow frames.  Fingers crossed for better weather tomorrow!

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Among the Icicles

Friday, December 14th 2012

The mercury was at -7°C as we arrived at Foxglove this morning, the coldest so far this winter.  A thick hoar frost saw all the trees glistening in the early morning sun.  Large clusters of icicles hung all along the edge of Risedale Beck.

Volunteers were not deterred by the cold weather, spending the majority of the day along the beck clearing Hazel after the bank had collapsed in recent storms.  This has once again opened up the view from the wetland down to the beck.

 

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Back Garden Ringing

Thursday, December 13th 2012

With the weather so cold at the moment the feeders in the back garden have been even more busy than usual!  This morning was clear and calm - an ideal opportunity to put in the garden net for an hour's ringing!

Over 30 birds were caught, including Goldfinches, Blackbirds and Lesser Redpoll.  Pupils from the Dales School were excited to see a Great Spotted Woodpecker up close and to hear about bird ringing at Foxglove.

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The Hole in the Wall

Wednesday, December 12th 2012

Cut Sycamore logs from the last winter worky day were put to good use as path edging on sections of the woodland trail by the Tuesday team of volunteers. The logs were held in place by pegs that were made from narrow logs or stakes. John carefully prepared the points on each one required!

Edging the footpath

Pollarded Hawthorns made perfect vices to hold timber in place while it was sawn into smaller pieces!

Anne's vice!

The task was completed in no time at all and then the group headed into the willow carr to continue with the coppicing.

Tuesday Team

John from the DSWA came to assist students from the Dales School as they created a time capsule to go into the CPRE funded stone wall outside the Field Centre. The students all signed their names on a special piece of paper and sealed it in a waterproof container. John removed the right amount of stones from the completed structure for the capsule to fit.

Time capsule 1

Once the time capsule was in place the students were able to cover it up in the hopes that one day it may be rediscovered.

Time capsule 2

Finally, the top coping stones were replaced, hiding the capsule completely.

Capsule 3

Thank you to John for having this lovely idea and for spending time to make it possible today.

Time capsule 4

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Festive Fundraising

Tuesday, December 11th 2012

A 'Christmas Extravaganza' took place in Richmond Methodist Church today in aid of Foxglove Covert. Members of the Newbiggin Players performed in a Christmas show and raised funds for their Local Nature Reserve.

Newbiggin Players

Some of the cast members are frequent visitors to the reserve and in the past have enjoyed activities such as pond dipping, willow weaving and practical conservation tasks as well as nature walks.

Christmas Extravaganza

£92.50 was donated to Foxglove today and is hugely appreciated. Our sincere thanks go to all involved and we wish them all the best for their future performances.

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Feeding the Birds

Saturday, December 8th 2012

The sledge replaced the wheelbarrow once again on the 'bird seed round' as the access road and footpaths remained icy all day. The lake is partially frozen over too. On the way around a Tawny Owl and a Grey Heron were spotted as well as the usual smaller song birds.

Lake

There are seven bird feeding stations and several sacks of feed are required to fill them up each week. This costs at least £1000 per year. Seed and peanuts are available to buy in the Field Centre and any profit made from the sales helps to pay for the food for the Foxglove birds.

Feeders

Now is a good time to stock up as in this weather the birds need all of the help they can get as many species are still in decline. For information on the latest findings go to the BTO website.

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Kestrels, Coppicing and Currachs

Thursday, December 6th 2012

The Kestrel that was seen in the back garden was photographed through the glass by Elizabeth and if you look closely you can see what it is eating!

Kestrel in garden

From the markings on the head it is clear that it is a female.

Kestrel

Volunteers continued to work on the willow coppice, this area is looking very different to how it looked last week.

Coppicing willow

Not all of the willow stems are being put on the fire. The good straight ones are being put to one side for the Foxglove Bogders. A future project may be to construct a currach from the wood. A currach is a type of stream lined rowing boat as shown below.

Currach a

This is one that Dave made earlier!

Currach b

If anyone would like to know more about this please get in touch with the Reserve Managers or check out the events section for dates of the next bodger's meet.

Currach c

 

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Winter Wildlife

Wednesday, December 5th 2012

This year has been a bad one for fruit due to high rainfall and there has been a lack of food for the wildlife this Autumn in terms of berries and apples at Foxglove. However, whilst out on his 'rooting rounds' Brian stumbled accross these crab apples which will hopefully be enjoyed by the Fieldfare, Redwing and Waxwing over the coming weeks.

Crab Apples

This Harvestman was sheltering out of the bitter wind and would also provide a hearty meal for a bird! Brian also found seven Kidney Spot Ladybirds.

Harvestman

Whilst working in the coppice block a cheeky Robin was seen all day yesterday flitting around the brash looking for worms.

Robin

Today it was still there and was quite happy to pose for photographs. On the picture below you can see that he has been ringed in the past. A Kestrel was observed feeding in the back garden from the Field Centre where a Mole was also seen creating a Mole hill!

Robin2

Finally, this stunning picture of an Eagle Owl has been made and donated by Richard for the Christmas raffle. There are also two large hampers for prizes. Tickets are available in the Field Centre. If you haven't yet confirmed your place for the Christmas party please get in touch and pay by the 7th December. There are limited places still available, see the events section for further details. The access road is icy today and any visitors should take this into consideration, it is advised to park on the parade square and walk in. More snow fell here last night and the forecast for tomorrow is interesting!

Eagle_owl

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Wind in the Willows

Wednesday, December 5th 2012

Frozen ground provided an ideal opportunity to work in one of the boggiest areas of the reserve. The Willow Carr is always wet and soon becomes a muddy work site. Fifteen volunteers worked in pairs all morning to cut the stems of the willow down to ground level.

Coppicing

This patch of Willow was cleared of scrub last winter which made the coppicing task a lot easier.

Coppicing Willow

Using bow saws and loppers, the stools were cut at a slight angle to shed the rain away from the tree trunk.

Demonstration

Some of the trees were pollarded rather than coppiced to help create a variety of height. Ken and Eddy enjoyed demonstrating the different techniques!

Pollarding

Students from the Dales School joined in with the volunteers and cut the brash into smaller pieces for the fire.

Dales School

Working hard

By the end of the day a huge amount of work had been completed. It will be interesting to return in the Spring to see the new growth on the coppiced stools and to watch the wildflowers flourish in the warm Spring sunshine.

After

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Winter Wonderland

Tuesday, December 4th 2012

Foxglove awoke to a covering of snow, the second fall of the season.

It was clear just how many deer are about the reserve - footprints could be seen on almost every footpath!

The wire on one of the bridges across Risedale Beck was rucked up, full of holes and in need of replacement.  After sweeping off the snow the old wire was removed and new laid down.

The bridge now looks better and is much safer to cross.

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Another Very Cold Day

Monday, December 3rd 2012

Only four more late starts at Foxglove for the bird ringers, after the 21st December the arrival time begins to get earlier!!  Everyone was well wrapped up as they headed out to put up the nets.  The sky was blue, the sun was bright and the moon was still in the sky.

Early morning

Ice had formed on the ponds in the Scrapes making amazing patterns.

Ice patterns

Walking along the boardwalk, to the bridge over the head of the lake, Long Tailed Tits were observed flitting quietly between the branches of the trees along the lake side.  Trying to photograph these small birds was difficult, as they did not stay still for long.  Amazingly this one was caught on camera and is in focus!

Long Tailed Tit

Later in the day some Long Tailed Tits were processed.  Over 140 birds were brought to the ringing room in just 3 hours and many were birds that had been ringed before.  The data collected from these retrapped birds is very important as it gives information about their longevity and movements.  A large proportion of them seem only to winter at Foxglove and clearly make use of the food supplies available.  Some spend the same two winter months at Foxglove every year and then disappear again who knows where.

When all the information was recorded on paper it took many hours to input into IPMR (the computer programme that handles all the data) some months later.  Since March we have been inputting all the data straight into the computer; this not only saves a great deal of time but also means that CES data was ready to be sent to the BTO (British Trust for Ornithology) long before the date required.  The BTO has just published the initial findings from CES 2012 and this can be viewed on their web site.

Finally, a pair of Ravens were flying over the reserve for a large part of the morning calling loudly with their loud raucous call; this is not an every day occurrence and may be a new site/sight? record.

Thank you to everyone who helped today.

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December Winter Worky Day

Saturday, December 1st 2012

It was with 'gusto' that the forty volunteers set off to carry out winter habitat work this morning!

Setting off

The children began the day by filling all of the bird feeders around the reserve.

Feeding the Birds

This was great fun!

Filling feeders

The birds were waiting in the trees nearby and came straight to the food watched by the young helpers.

Watching the Birds

Elsewhere, a team carried out woodland work along Risedale Beck.

Tank tracks

Adam and Lilian were IC chicken curry and a fine job they did too!

Dinner time

The felled Sycamore trees were tidied up in no time by the other team.

Sycamore bonfire

Here is the 'after' photo. This area will be replanted with native trees.

After

Thanks to everyone for all your help and support. What a great way to spend a beautiful sunny winter's day.

Blue Sky

 


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A Cold Frosty Day

Saturday, December 1st 2012

The lake had ice covering part of it, but the still day gave beautiful reflections of the now leafless trees.

Lake and reflections

Frost coated the reeds in the reed bed and for once there was no sound other than the cheeping of birds, possibly Reed Buntings, who spend the night low down in the reeds where they are safe and warm.  These birds can be seen in the back garden and feeding from the feeder outside the kitchen.

Reed Bed

Although there are few flowers out now, there are many different seed heads to be seen around the reserve.  Goldfinch enjoy the seeds from the Teasels.

Teasel head covered in frost

Frost had 'grown' on the lichen, a plant made up from a symbiotic relationship between an alga and a fungus.  The alga provides the food and the fungus the structure.

Frost covered lichen

These are very tough plants that can survive a journey into space and upon return to Earth continue to grow.

Frost on Lichen

And finally we send best wishes to all Scots associated with Foxglove, as they raise a glass to their Patron Saint , St Andrew, who is celebrated today.

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