(21) Blog Posts Made in February 2014

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Thursday Jobs

Friday, February 28th 2014

Yesterday the final touches were made to the bat box which the Thursday team have been working on and the brackets were fitted to hold it up.

You can see on the photo above the design of the box which has several narrow spaces for the bats to use. We were then able to put it up on the wall of the Field Centre.

Hopefully we will see some bats using it before too long!

We were also given some more tree saplings from the work on the A1. These have been planted in the tree nursery until we are ready for them to go into the next area of clearfell.

Thank you for everyone's hard work on Thursday and also to the Highways Agency and Carillion Morgan Sindall for the donation of the trees.

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The One That Got Away

Wednesday, February 26th 2014

The monthly flower survey was completed by volunteers this morning. Seven species of flower were identified, including Field Speedwell, Hazel and Primrose.  Last year only four species were found at this time. Leaves of Bluebell, Barren Strawberry and Cuckoo Pint were also seen.

On the walk the ladies spotted a new area of Scarlet Elf Cup before Brian, our resident rooter. He had to go and see if their fungi ID was up to scratch!

Thank you all for spending time to complete these valuable surveys.

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Work on the Heathland

Tuesday, February 25th 2014

Today was spent clearing the Gorse from the area of heathland on the reserve. It is necessary to do this to prevent it from becoming dominant within the heather.

It is done on a fairly regular basis and I think I am right when i say it is one of the least popular jobs amongst our volunteer team. Nevertheless, we set to it in the sunshine and made good progress, apparently it 'wasn't as bad as last time!'

With a few aching backs by lunchtime we had a short afternoon to complete the work and can see a definite improvement of the area.

Hiding at the bottom of a rock our eagle-eyed volunteer Ann spotted this Great Crested Newt hiding itself away; there were also lots of ladybirds to see and we made sure the Gorse was checked thoroughly for any signs of life before being burnt on the bonfire.

Our work was being supervised by this very friendly Robin, eager to see what improvements were being made to its potential breeding ground.

Thank you everyone for your help today, we hope there aren't too many aching backs and legs in the morning! Thanks also to John for the photos.

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Moths

Sunday, February 23rd 2014

We are setting the moth trap most Tuesday evenings, unless the forecast is poor.  There have not been many moths in the trap, but several have been found on the Field Centre walls.  On Wednesday it was 2 on the back verandah and 4 in the trap!  They were all the same species, Pale Brindled Beauty - the first time this moth has been caught this year.

The female of this species is small and flightless.  It is the males that come to the light.  Their colour varies from light with a pattern to dark.  We were lucky to get both.   This is the lighter one.

Pale Brindled Beauty

This the darker one. At first glance we wondered if the two were the same species.

Pale Brindled Beauty

The abdomen of newly hatched moths of this species is pink and if you look closely between the wings on both photographs you can see pink.

When photographed, head on, the furry head and legs are easily seen,  Notice also that the legs are striped!  The antenna are carefully placed around the head.

Head and legs of Pale Brindled Beauty

At times they will uncover their antenna and you can see that they are feathered.  (Thanks to Brian for standing still whilst this photograph was taken!)  They take care of their antenna and regularly clean them with their front legs.

Antenna of Pale Brindled Beauty

They overwinter as a pupa in an underground cocoon - for up to six months - and are on the wing from January through to March.  The food plants of the caterpillars are broadleaved trees including oaks, birch, Hawthorn, Blackthorn and apple - of which we have a plentiful supply.

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Lesser Redpoll Recoveries

Friday, February 21st 2014

Ringing recoveries can give us important information about species which is then used by the British Trust for Ornithology to improve understanding of how birds live and how this affects populations; knowledge vital for conservation.

The interactive map below shows our ringing recoveries for Lesser Redpolls during 2013, some lines represent more than one bird.  The blue lines show where a bird has been ringed at Foxglove by the Swaledale Ringing Group and then caught by ringers elsewhere. The red lines show a bird ringed by another group at a different location and then controlled by the ringers here on the reserve.

Click on a coloured line for more information about each recovery. One bird of particular interest was ringed as a juvenile in October 2008 in Derbyshire and then controlled here in April 2013, making it 5 years old. The typical lifespan for this species is 2-3 years.


View Lesser Redpoll Recoveries 2013 in a larger map

Lesser Redpolls are a red listed species in the UK due to their recent breeding population decline; however, they are becoming more common in gardens as small seeds such as nyger are put out.  Their fine beaks are adept at handling small seeds, favouring areas rich with Birch and Alder trees as well as young conifers.  These are very sociable birds, moving in flocks outside of the breeding season and not being very territorial even when nesting.

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Spring is in the Air!

Thursday, February 20th 2014

There is a hint of spring in the air with many of the early flowers now in bloom including Primrose and Hazel; Blackbirds and Robins amongst other species are singing across the reserve. Woodpeckers were also heard drumming around the Outdoor Classroom yesterday.  Signs of increased Water Vole activity have also been seen around the Scrapes where a feeding station has been found near to the reed bed.  Water Voles characteristically cut through vegetation at a 45° angle which can seen in this picture if you look carefully.

A small group of volunteers were in to help today.  Work was completed repairing the section of path between the Wetland Hide to the Moorland Trail.

Several sections of boarding here had rotted away causing the path sides to collapse. New posts and board were installed to create a level surface.  As we finished this frog was spotted crossing the repaired pathway.

Thank you to everyone who has helped out today!

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Fun For All

Wednesday, February 19th 2014

A fun filled morning was had by all those who came along to Foxglove's half-term activities today.

There were lots of arts and craft activities to choose from, all based on the brilliant wildlife that you can find at Foxglove Covert.

One of the most popular activities was making a mobile from the natural materials found on the reserve.

After doing some of the arts and crafts activities on offer most of our young visitors headed out in the sunshine for a walk round the reserve seeing what they could find. A few collected bits of fallen branches and twigs to make a 'Journey Stick' along the way.

Keep your eyes on our events page to find out about future activity days and for more information about Eco Club which is run on the first Saturday of the month for youngsters to come and learn more about their local wildlife.

Thank you to all those who helped make today a success, the adults seemed to enjoy themselves just as much as the children!

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Waterworks!

Tuesday, February 18th 2014

The team have been getting their feet wet today as we've been tidying up around the ponds and streams. We have cut back all the overhanging branches along one of the little streams running into the lake. This will improve the river as a flyway for smaller birds.

As is often the case throughout the winter months a bonfire was used to burn all the brash, todays took a little while to get going however!

There was a visible difference by the end of the day.

A smaller team headed off to tidy up following last week's wet and windy weather. First stop was to clear a Larch tree along the green route which had come down in the strong winds. Once that was done they moved on to repair the dam which had been partially washed away.

Before...

Brian and Garth admiring their handiwork...

Eddie began work controlling the rushes on the wetland by strimming them ready for the breeding season and Ken cleared out some of the thick weed from the pond opposite the Field Centre to create some areas of open water.

Thank you everyone for your hard work today and to Anne for the delicious cake!

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Bodgers

Monday, February 17th 2014

The Foxglove Bodgers had their first monthly meeting of 2014 yesterday.  They collected some Alder wood from work around the reserve which then was cut to size, and had the bark stripped.

The sections were then turned on the pole lathe to make goblets.  Some bodgers also spent time making spoons from Silver Birch.

Their next meeting is on Sunday 16th March; if you are interested in attending please use the booking form on our events page.

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An Interesting Day

Monday, February 17th 2014

This morning the sun was rising and could just be seen through the reed bed.

Sun rising behind the reed bed.

Sandra and Brian returned from checking the mink raft at the bullet catcher to say that they had recorded a female Hazel flower.

Female Hazel flower

These Primroses were in flower in January last year, not even a sign of a flower bud so far.

Primrose leaves

Always curious as to what things are Elizabeth noticed these 'dead leaves'. Amazingly when the photograph was downloaded, they were Primrose flowers!  Not a good photo, as the flowers were hiding behind dead grasses.

Primrose flowers

As has been mentioned before, IPMR, the programme used to enter all the bird ringing data, contains a huge amount of information.  Today recording had to be done on paper and will be entered later, but we were able to check retrapped birds.  A Bullfinch was first caught and ringed by Liz in August 2013 and today it was processed by her again.  It has not been through the ringing room between these times. Seven new Bullfinches were ringed today, all of them hatched last year.

Femal Bullfinch

This Marsh Tit was caught 4 times in 2012 and not retrapped again until today.

Marsh Tit

During the morning 4 new Blackbirds came through the ringing room.  None were caught in the afternoon, although several were seen flying around the reserve.

Male Blackbird

Other recordings today included a Water Vole feeding site, a Great Spotted Woodpecker drumming and sticklebacks in a pond.  Hazel flowers and Primroses have now been recorded, frogs next?

Thank you to everyone who helped throughout the day, meeting and greeting visitors, making tea and ringing.

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Waiting for Spring

Saturday, February 15th 2014

At this time of year signs of spring are eagerly awaited.  Sometimes imagination does play a part!  Could this photograph of the willow carr in the Scrapes be just showing a little green?

A hint of green in the Scrapes?

Although the reed bed is in its winter 'plumage' it makes a beautiful photograph against blue sky.

The reed bed against blue sky

Reed Buntings have been seen flying into the reed bed and Water Vole prints have been found on the mink raft in the Scrapes.  No frogs yet though.

There are other colours to be seen if tree twigs are closely examined.  Alder buds are purple.

Purple Alder buds

Hazel buds are green, with just a hint of red.

Green Hazel buds

Ash buds are black.

Black Ash buds

Lichens provide a splash of colour.

Yellow lichen

Although vehemently denied the race is on as to who can find the first frog, the first Primrose and the first Hazel flower!  Watch this space!

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A new home!

Thursday, February 13th 2014

Some of today's volunteer team started the day with a walk round the reserve to check for any fallen trees caused by the strong winds overnight. There were a couple of Larch trees which needed to be moved but not any significant damage.

The rest of the team got to work on creating a bat box to go on the outside of the Field Centre. A local bat expert has been to visit and there are plenty of bats around so hopefully we'll see it being occupied over the next year.

Thank you 'Thursday Team' for your help today.

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Half-term Events

Wednesday, February 12th 2014

Snow was coming down thick and fast as we arrived at Foxglove this morning, unsurprisingly there were no moths caught in the trap overnight.

Volunteers worked in the warmth of the Field Centre preparing for the half-term arts and crafts morning next Wednesday.

This event starts at 10am running through to lunchtime. Feel free to drop in for some fun nature based activities and games. Self-guided trail sheets will also be available from the classroom during the school break.

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Many hands make light work!

Tuesday, February 11th 2014

Despite the wintery weather we've had our usual team of Tuesday volunteers out to help us on the reserve today. This morning we cleared and burnt the area of birch which was felled yesterday afternoon.

This afternoon we worked on some pollards in the parking areas near the centre. This is one of them before Adam got to work on it...

And this is how it looked as work continued, with Adam's arms feeling much heavier by the end of the day!

We have been joined today by our regular helpers from The Dales School and also by a small group from Bedale High School.

Not forgetting of course a very friendly Robin!

Thank you everyone for your help today.

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Nest Boxes

Monday, February 10th 2014

As the 500 nest boxes we have around the training area are checked each spring a note is made of their condition. Those that are damaged are then repaired or replaced over the winter months. We began to replace the small boxes today in High Spring and Waitgate Woods.

Both of these woods provide ideal breeding habitat for Pied Flycatchers and Redstarts; over 60 Pied Flycatcher chicks were ringed in High Spring Wood alone last year!

The majority of the boxes requiring attention have now been replaced ready for the breeding season to begin; with Bluebell and Primrose leaves showing across the woodland floor spring can’t be too far off now!

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February Worky Day

Saturday, February 8th 2014

Forty five volunteers turned up this morning to help us with conservation work around the reserve.

The group was split into two teams; the first spending the day pollarding and coppicing an area of willow behind the Field Centre.

Everyone pitched in here working really hard to clear the huge amount of brash created by two chainsaws!

The area was much improved by the end of the day, with the majority of the dense dead wood cleared away and the canopy lowered.  This will benefit not only the ground flora as the year progresses but also the back garden net ride.

This was a very mucky area to work, with wet slippy clay underfoot.  This lovely lot won't need to pay for any beauty treatments any time soon with the amount of clay on them - all part of the service we provide!

The second group worked up in the new plantation thinning an area of Corsican Pine. This work will allow more air into the canopy helping to improve the health of the trees and providing them with more space to grow.

The cut trees were soon processed and moved to the bonfire.

A line of dense undergrowth, mostly Gorse, was also cleared with some left along the fenceline to provide cover and shelter through the plantation.

By the end of the afternoon work was finished in both areas and all that was left to do was watch the fires go down.

Thank you everyone for your hard work and great company today.  As always we are astounded at the quantity and quality of the work done!

 

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Footpath Repairs

Friday, February 7th 2014

Yesterday volunteers worked repairing a section of path between the wetland hide and the moorland. Over time some of the stakes and side supports have rotted away causing sections of the path to drop away resulting in an unsafe surface. Affected areas were first dug out and the old boarding and stakes removed.

Sections of boarding were then repaired or replaced and staked in place.

New stone was added and compacted to give a level finish to the path.

This has improved the pathway in this area considerably; work here will be completed over the next week.  Thank you all for your help on this task.

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Preparing for Spring!

Wednesday, February 5th 2014

Today we have carried out work along a bank between the river and the road leading to the Visitor Centre. Along this bank many Orchids grow during the spring and summer. Each year we cut back the brambles and grasses to allow the Orchids to thrive.

This is the area before we started work.

Once it had been strimmed the loose material was raked off.

Fingers crossed it won't be too long before we see some sunshine and the flowers start to appear!

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Coppicing

Tuesday, February 4th 2014

Today we have continued work on the Hazel coppice along Risedale Beck, opening it up ready for the fauna and flora which we'll see once Spring arrives.

It was tough going again on the steep and slippery bank but we cleared a large area and it's looking really good.

In the undergrowth our eagle eyed Brian spotted this lovely example of Scarlet Elfcup. It is present in about 4 locations around the reserve but this is by far the best example of it.

Thank you everyone for your hard work today.

 

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Early Moth

Tuesday, February 4th 2014

Walking around the reserve it is always worthwhile to look on man made structures.  Even in winter there may be insects to be found.

Unfortunately, many times a closer inspection reveals an old seed or leaf, or even a bird dropping.  However today a little brown splodge on a marker post, was a female moth and when identified it was an Early Moth.

A female Early Moth

They are almost wingless and sit, usually on their larval food plant and emit pheromones, which attracts the male moth.  The larvae can be seen in early April to late May on Hawthorn and Blackthorn.  The adults are on the wing in January and February.  The males can sometimes be found on the front of the Field Center.

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Around Foxglove

Sunday, February 2nd 2014

Last year Gorse did not make it onto the list  of January flowers.  This year the brilliant yellow flowers can be seen around the reserve, especially on the moor.  After rain it has its accompanying raindrops!

Gorse in flower

As it is so wet the Excidia recisa fugus is remaining on dead willow branches, and yes, it too has drops of water hanging from it.

Excidia recisa

Cuckoo Pint or Lords and Ladies grows along Risedale Beck, later in the year.  In one area there are some leaves already growing.

Cuckoo Pint leaves

On still days the stark leafless trees are reflected in the lake.

Reflections in the lake

In the Scrapes the reflections of the plants are more artistic!

Reflections in the Scrapes

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