(27) Blog Posts Made in June 2014

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What a Day!

Monday, June 30th 2014

Driving in first thing this morning a Roe Deer with two kids was spotted, unfortunately they moved away before the camera could capture them.  In the afternoon a Hummingbird Hawkmoth was seen feeding from the Red Campion that grows along Risedale Beck.  As its name suggests it did not stay still and this is the best splodge that could be achieved!

Hummingbird Hawkmoth

These moths are migrants.  They have a long proboscis that can reach the nectary at the bottom of flowers.

Also recorded today was a leech, Blue Tailed Damselflies, Dark Green Fritillary and Sawort, which is still tight in bud.

Volunteers were hard at work checking stock and tidying the store room and cupboards in the Activity Room.  Parts of the reserve were checked ready for work tomorrow.  Thank you for your hard work today.

News from the north.  This morning at 0300 they set up the nets for Storm Petrels.  By the time they had finished they had processed 115 birds including four controls. (Birds ringed elsewhere and caught at Cape Wrath.)  As always it will be interesting to see the details of these birds when the information is returned to us.

Setting up for the Stormies

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Yellow Flowers

Sunday, June 29th 2014

There are many yellow flowers in bloom across the reserve.  Some we can easily identify, like Greater Spearwort shown below.  This plant likes very damp conditions and grows in many of the ponds on the reserve.  Bees and hoverflies feed from these flowers.

Greater Spearwort

Buttercups have five petals but occasionally some flowers have more.

Many petaled buttercup

There are then the dandelion, hawkweed, hawkbits and mouse ears which always take a great deal of sorting out, but they are beautiful flowers to enjoy.  Insects of all shapes and sizes feed from them.  These damselflies were just resting here for a few seconds.

Dandlion like flower with damselflies

This dandelion like flower was multi-headed and growing along the obstacle course path.

Another dandelion like flower

We know exactly where this plant grows, yet every year we have to search for it!  Weld grows on the path near the Sycamore Avenue.  It can grow to a height of about two feet.

Weld

Honeysuckle wends its way through the trees.  The scent attracts moths during the night when they are more active.  It is flowering well this year.

Honeysuckle

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Insect Eco Club

Saturday, June 28th 2014

Having looked at the weather forecast and noted that it was not going to be 'flaming June', the moth trap was set overnight, so that the children would have some insects to look at.   The moth team were in early, collecting the moths and identifying them.  Some of the moths were reluctant to be removed from the egg boxes to the containers!

Collecting the moths

Inside they were identified.  

Identifying the moths

During a  break in this work Glennis and Colin discussed another project.  Watch this space.

Discussion of another project

As the children arrived they looked at the moths.

Looking at the moth

The list of moths caught included an Elephant Hawkmoth, Small Angle Shades, Silver Ground Carpet and shown below, the Snout.

We set off and looked for insects, but due to the cold, damp, cloudy weather very little was seen flying.  However Whirligig Beetles and Pond Skaters were seen on the ponds.  A Ringlet butterfly was examined.  On the moor the children used the sweep nets and caught Snipe fly, flower bugs, micro moths and some small spiders.

Peacock Butterfly caterpillars, at least that is what we hope they are! are being recorded around the reserve. Some were spotted on the nettles on the far moor and the children were able to have a closer look.

sweep netting

 Sweep netting

We just made it back to the Field Centre before a shower of rain.

Thank you very much to all the Foxglove volunteers who helped with the meeting today, as always your help is very much appreciated.  An attempt will be made to order some sun and warmth for the next Eco Club meeting!

An email from Adam reported that they had had a good time at Loch Torridon, ringing some Herons, Shags, Cormorants and Herring Gulls, but no terns.  They are now at Cape Wrath.  After two years where the weather has not been good it is looking better.  As Adam says 'fingers crossed that the forecast is right'.

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Grasses Galore!

Friday, June 27th 2014

Grasses are growing very well and have been producing large amounts of pollen.  The following photographs show the beauty of the grasses growing around the reserve.

grasses

grasses

grasses

On the moor Yellow Rattle was planted.  When checked today we were pleased to see that some are almost ready to 'rattle' - meaning that their seeds are ripe.

Yellow Rattle seed head

Just as pleasing were those still in flower.

Yellow Rattle flowers

As these plants are semi parasitic on grass roots, over the coming years they should reduce the grasses so that flowers have less competition.

The far moor is managed by grazing and today the sheep and their lambs were sitting chewing the cud under the Hawthorn tree.

Sheep on moor

Two Dexter cattle are grazing the wetland and were curious to see what volunteers were doing, so came near to the fence to have a look.

Dexter cattle on the wetland

 Although called Cotton Grass, it is not a grass but a sedge. In the gentle breeze this morning the seeds were being dispersed.

Cotton Grass

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Moths and Butterflies

Thursday, June 26th 2014

Yesterday the moth trap was opened and moths were identified.  There were over fifteen different species of moth including this beautiful Elephant Hawkmoth.

Elephant Hawkmoth

This Buff Arches, placed on a leaf, soon moved around to camouflage itself against a branch.

Buff Arches

Although Stinging Nettles are not everyone's favourite plant, these Peacock butterflies were feeding ravenously.

Peacock butterfly caterpillars on nettles

There were one or two of them!  Hopefully we will see many adults flying in late summer.

Peacock butterfly caterpillars

Tony, Ken and Bethany worked all day on the access road, cutting back the overgrowing branches and strimming along the edges of the road.  Thank you for all your hard work.

News from the north about lunch time, was that they had stopped in Arkengathdale to ring some wader chicks but were back on the road heading to the Kyle of Lochalsh.

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Flower Walk

Wednesday, June 25th 2014

The last Wednesday of the month is 'Flower Walk' Wednesday.  We set off through the Scrapes and observations included Greater Spearwort, Cotton Grass and Water Crowfoot. 

There was a single flower of Marsh Marigold, along with the seed head.  One of the pods was just beginning to open and the seeds can be seen.

Flag Iris was also in flower, and this short lived flower was also sporting its seed heads.  Later in the year the pods open revealing bright red seeds.  Although we know where the flowers have been it is not easy to find them to photograph!

Yellow Flag seed head

All three clovers are in flower, each species supporting different bees.  This bee was feeding from Red Clover and has pollen sacs.

Bee with pollen scas on Red clover

As the vegetation at the bottom of the Sycamore Avenue was checked some purple flowers were spotted.  They were next to the tightly closed buds of Black Knapweed. (Hardheads)  On closer inspection these flowers were identified as the rayed variety of Black Knapweed.  Why these were in flower and the ordinary knapweed not, was a question we could not answer, as both should flower at the same time.

Rayed Black Knapweed

The flower walk continued in the afternoon and covered out of the way areas.  One such excursion took us close to the lake edge where the rippling water saw hundreds of tadpoles just ready to leave.  We then realised that many had already left and were hopping around on land!  A truly amazing sight!  How many frogs can you count?

Tiny frogs

Tiny frogs

Over 90 species of flowers were recorded during the walk with some areas still to be checked.  Thank you very much to everyone who helped with this.

Thanks also to the volunteers who identified the many moths caught in the trap overnight.

Members of the bird ringing team will set off on their journey north to Cape Wrath tomorrow morning at 0600.  Hopefully the weather will be kinder than last year.  Technology should ensure photographs and news will arrive from the north, fingers crossed.  We wish them a safe journey and a successful trip.

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Bracken Control

Tuesday, June 24th 2014

Over the past few years we have implemented a programme of Bracken Control on the moorland to control this invasive species. Bracken, if left unchecked, creates a very dense covering, shading out other plants and reducing the diversity of plants and other wildlife. The benefits of the work from previous years are already clear to see with Bracken being much less abundant in these areas, allowing many more species of wildflower to flourish. Our volunteers were pleased to see the results of their hard work over previous years, and even happier when we managed to clear Bracken from half of the moorland in one day; a feat which would have taken a couple of days only a few years ago!

Never the less this was still hard work in the warm weather, and everyone enjoyed a well-earned rest by coffee time! Who would have guessed boulders could be so comfortable?!

Thank you to everyone who has helped on this project today and over the past few years; it is really rewarding to see all of that hard work pay off!

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Botanical Art for Beginners

Monday, June 23rd 2014

Local artist Karen Innes ran a watercolour workshop today to help raise funds for the reserve. Eight ladies attended the event where they learnt the basics of using watercolour paint in botanical art. During the morning they sketched from photographs of flowers taken on the reserve.

From the quietness of the classroom it was clear everyone was concentrating hard trying to put Karen's advice into practise. After lunch everyone started to add colour to their artworks, and by the end of the afternoon the beautiful artworks were nearly finished. The standard of the art produced was fantastic and everyone was rightly proud of their hard work!

We are discussing the possibility of another workshop, most likely focusing on fungi in the autumn, so keep an eye on our events page if you are interested in coming along.

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Where to Start?

Sunday, June 22nd 2014

It has been a busy couple of weeks with nest box ringing nearly completed, CES 5 and 6 in the bag, habitat management, mowing, strimming, loppering, school visits and species recording, to name just a few of the activities taking place.  Added to all of this the reserve is blossoming! Insects and other invertebrates are readily showing themselves, especially on sunny days. 

This blog is a round up of the Foxglove dynamics!

So to start it - the Buzzards.  Volunteers have been out searching for Buzzard nests - and finding them.  Once found the chicks have to be ringed and unfortunately Buzzards do not use nest boxes!.  They usually choose the tops of trees or overhanging ledges.  This is where we thank our climbers, Sean and John.  This is Sean heading down to a nest, under an overhang, under another overhang!

Shane climbing down to a nest

John had to climb the tree to get to this one.

John climbing up a tree

The chicks are put in bags and either pulled up or lowered down to be ringed.  Sarah is busy here ringing a young chick before it is returned to the nest.  Sean is somewhere over the edge and out of sight!

Sarah ringing

Most of the nests are now complete and over 20 Buzzard chicks have been ringed.  Thank you again to our climbers and to all those bird ringers who braved the not inconsiderable midge population on the the training area!

A Moorhen has been sitting on a nest in the duck raft.  The male was seen walking slowly up the ramp feeding the female and then running down it, back to the water.  Glennis managed to photograph the chicks in amongst the vegetation.

Moorhen and chicks

Out on the moor the sheep are eating their way through the grass, but these ones preferred the path, curious to see the volunteers who were trying to count them all!

Curious sheep

Andrew followed this Dark Green Fritillary, until it settled and he was able to take a photograph, the first of the season. (Unfortunately the Brimstone Elizabeth chased around the back garden did not settle long enough for even an out of focus splodge!)

Dark Green Fritillary

Out on a net round, Tony reported seeing the Kingfisher and so the weir net was put in.  It was checked throughout the day to no avail, although the Kingfisher was seen flying under the net!  On the last net round it was caught!  As always with birds that we do not catch too often a check was made for anyone who had not ringed one before, in this case it was Adam.

Hopefully this juvenile will give much pleasure to vistors, as it fishes from the many perches on the lake. 

Kingfisher

It is often only the flash of brilliant blue that is seen as the bird flies to and fro.

Kingfisher showing its brilliant blue feathers

A visitor caught the moment that Adam released the bird.

Kingfisher flying off

CES 6 means we only have 6 more visits to complete this year and possibly a later start for CES 7?  We continue to ring new Bullfinches, today 17 were processed.  Juvenile Robins also visited the ringing room and some are just beginning to grow their tiny  red feathers.  Wrens are often heard scolding visitors and volunteers as they walk the reserve.  11 Wrens now sport their new rings.  Another rare visitor to the ringing room was a Stock Dove, one of over 150 birds that were processed today.

A combination of weather conditions (wet, hot, cold?) and habitat management have resulted in orchids, Northern Marsh, Common Spotted and their hybrids, flowering all over the reserve.  The back garden, outside the ringing room, is full of Common Spotted Orchids.  (Thank you again to those volunteers who go around each flower, when mowing and strimming!)

Common Spotted Orchids

Almost unrecognisable without his work clothes, Colin was spotted in the Scrapes.  His mission today was bird watching, not working.  His irrefutable Royal Air Force panache remains extant although the volunteers are going to club together for a new hat to replace this one (which he is reputed to have bartered at the RAF Changi car boot sale in Singapore way back in 1958!)  Some have suggested he was conned!

Colin

A huge thank you to everyone who helped today, making visitors welcome, bird ringing, tea making, photograph taking, observing and recording Foxglove's fantastic flora and fauna.  A grand day!

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Marne Moth Morning

Friday, June 20th 2014

Last weekend volunteers met at Marne Barracks early on Saturday morning to empty the eight moth traps that had been set at dusk on Friday.

In total over 1,300 individual moths were trapped across 200 species with 30 new species recorded for the site. Also notable observations were Valerian Pug, which is listed as nationally scarce. Marbled Coronet (below) which is locally rare was only seen once in Yorkshire last year; eight individuals were trapped around Marne, quite a remarkable recording!

Marbled Coronet

Some regular visitors to the Foxglove trap were also spotted and quickly identified by our volunteers including Scorched Wing.

Cinnabar moths which are frequently seen through the scrapes also made an appearance.

There were also plenty of hawkmoths seen, including Poplar Hawkmoth, and Elephant Hawkmoth which have been seen here on our trapping session over Tuesday evening. Small Elephant Hawkmoth was also recorded (top right), this is one species that is not seen as often on the reserve.

Eyed Hawkmoths showed off their beautiful colouring and defence strategy as they were placed back in the bushes, or in this case on the ground, for an easier photo!

These pictures show just a fraction of the variety and beauty of the moths caught. If you are interested in learning more about these fascinating creatures we run moth trapping sessions on Wednesday morning, starting at 9.15am in the Field Centre.

Thank you to Charlie for identifying the moths, Raye for getting up so early to close the traps, and Tony for helping to set everything up, and of course everyone else who was involved in making this event a success!

 

 

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Colour in the Scrapes

Thursday, June 19th 2014

A cool dull morning was followed by a warm sunny afternoon.  Both flowers and insects appreciated the change.

In the Scrapes Greater Spearwort is in flower making a beautiful splash of colour across the ponds.

Greater Spearwort

Contrasting the yellow is the white fluffy heads of Cotton Grass.

Cotton Grass

Another colour seen in the Scrapes is pink.  This is Ragged Robin, which really lives up to its name after rain.

Ragged Robin

And finally a flash of bright blue is one of the damselflies hunting for insects across the ponds.

A blue damselfly

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Sheep and Cows

Wednesday, June 18th 2014

Each year we have Dexter cattle on the wetland to help us manage the vegetation. Yesterday the farmer from Big Sheep Little Cow in Bedale dropped off two cows for us, to help reduce the height of the grass and rush sward over the coming weeks.

Today, local farmer Keith Percival delivered us a flock of 11 Herdwick sheep and 16 lambs to help manage the grasses on the moorland.

These are now contained just on the top moor, but after the wildflower meadow is cut at the end of July they will be moved onto this area.  This will help the wildflowers by breaking up the structure of the grasses and creating scrapes in which next year's seeds can germinate.

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Team Tuesday

Tuesday, June 17th 2014

Tuesday is always a busy day on the reserve with volunteers out working to improve and maintain the fabulous habitats found here. Today was no exception with several groups working around the reserve, most people found themselves weeding around the young saplings in the ancient hedgeline. This is important work to ensure these young plants do not become choked by the fast growing grasses; once mature the hedgeline will act as a wildlife corridor between the training area and the reserve.

All the signage on gates across the moorland was refreshed by volunteers making sure the area is ready for the livestock when they are delivered tomorrow. Ken and Eddie have also been strimming along many of the paths making sure they are kept clear for visitors.

As well as all of this maintenance work volunteers have completed the weekly butterfly survey, spotting the first Meadow Brown of the season, flower surveys and working on the new displays for in the Field Centre!

1st Meadow Brown of the Summer!

Thank you everyone for your hard work today, it all really makes a difference to how the reserve looks and we are all very grateful for the effort you put in!

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Rain Drops Again!

Sunday, June 15th 2014

It was still dark this morning as the bird ringers arrived. Bats were catching their last insects before roosting for the day.  Dark clouds gave way to drizzle, then heavy drizzle, then rain.  Obviously the weather had not read the forecast, it was supposed to be dry all day!  

Rowan leaves were covered with water droplets.

Rowan leaves and water droplets

During the drizzle and rain the nets were checked constantly and the birds returned to the ringing room.  Thankfully the rain did not last too long.

A trip onto the heath to investigate a pink flower, found Bell Heather blooming and a bee braving the damp and cold to collect pollen.

Bell Heather

Yellow Flag Iris brightened up the Scrapes.  The brown markings are honey guides for insects, directing them to the nectar.

Yellow Flag Iris

 With the warm and damp weather the grasses are growing.  This Yorkshire Fog grass is turning areas of the reserve pink/purple.

Yorkshire Fog Grass

It was a CES ringing day (Constant Effort Site) and over a 100 birds were processed, including 61 new birds.  A visitor remarked in the middle week that it was probably a little early for young woodpeckers to be out and about.  Those few days made a difference as three youngsters received their rings today.  Many Great Tits were ringed in nest boxes and 25 of them arrived in the ringing room sporting their rings.  It was good to see that they were doing well.  Amazingly twelve new Bullfinch were ringed. 

The vegetation was wet this morning but the neatly cut paths around the reserve ensured that the bird ringers did not get too wet.  Thank you to those volunteers who spent much of their time this week strimming and mowing.  Thanks also to the bird ringers who gave their time today and of course, not forgetting those other volunteers who supported them.  What ever goes on at Foxglove is a team effort.  Well done and thank you.

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Moths at Marne

Saturday, June 14th 2014

Last night volunteers set out the moth traps at various places in Marne Barracks.  The lights were turned off at 4am and the traps opened at 8am.  The first reports are that it was a good morning.  There will be a fuller report on Monday's blog.

Ghost moths fly during June and July.  The white male can sometimes be seen hovering over grassland at dusk, hence its name.  The female is yellow marked with orange.  Their larvae feed underground on the roots of grass and small plants.

Ghost Moths

Another beautiful moth caught was the Lime Hawk-moth.  Not only was the normal green coloured one caught but the more unusual brown variation.  These moths used to be confined to southern England but over recent years have spread northwards and can be found in North Yorkshire.  The larvae feed on Lime, birch, Alder and Elm.

Lime Hawk-moth

A huge thank you to staff and volunteers who helped with this event.  It could not take place without this support.

 

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Buzzards

Friday, June 13th 2014

On Wednesday night members of the ringing team started visiting the many Buzzard nests around the training area to ring the chicks. The first was on a steep slope and from a high vantage point you could look down and see the chicks sitting in the nest.

A local tree surgeon, Sean, helps us with this by climbing the trees and then lowering the chicks down to us on the ground to ring.

Buzzards nest high up in the trees and often pick the larger, taller trees in the woodland making the job of getting to them much more difficult.! Here Sean was almost 20 metres off the ground with about the same distance to go before he reached the nest which you can just make out alongside the trunk of the tree.

Once the birds are lowered down they are ringed and this year we have also been colour ringing them. The colour rings have large bold numbers which can be read through a telescope and aid identification of specific birds in the field. These three happily posed for a picture before they were put back in the nest.

The birds here are about three weeks old and their feathers are just beginning to develop at this stage. They will spend about another three weeks in the nest before taking their first flight.

In the last 20 years the number of Buzzards in the area has increased dramatically. There were only a handful of nests in the area in the early 1990s; this year we have over 15 nests to visit! Already we have been to three of these and ringed eight chicks - a very promising start!

 

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Arkengarthdale Primary School Visit

Thursday, June 12th 2014

Children from Class 1 at Arkengarthdale Primary School visited the reserve today for a fun filled day of nature activities. During the morning the class spent time with Adam and Jackie pond dipping, where we saw dragonfly larvae predating tadpoles and learnt about caddisfly larvae and how they build their cases to protect themselves from predation. After a short break we went out on a Minibeast Safari where we learnt more about camouflage and other adaptations animals have to keep themselves safe before a quick play in the dams.

After lunch Elizabeth took a walk looking at the different habitats along Risedale Beck and many of the plants and animals that can be found there.

We hope you all enjoyed your visit and will be back soon with your families to explore more of the reserve!

Also we have been sent a link to Middleham Primary School's blog page where they have written about their visit here yesterday and shared a few photos.

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Pond Dipping

Wednesday, June 11th 2014

This afternoon Middleham C of E Primary school visited Foxglove Covert.  They went minibeast hunting and pond dipping.  During the minibeast hunt they found millipedes, butterflies, ladybirds and many smaller insects.  Pond dipping resulted in several different types of caddis larvae being caught.  Some had their homes made of twigs, some of leaves and some from tiny grains of sand.  We were asked a question, 'What do the larvae use to stick everything together?'   We presume it is a form of saliva but some research will be needed to find out exactly.

Also caught, was an adult Great Diving Beetle.

Great Diving Beetle adult

And then a Great Diving Beetle larva was caught.  It was moving around so quickly it was difficult to get a good photograph.  However you can plainly see the biting pincers on this carnivorous larva.  The adult is carnivorous too.

Great Diving Beetle larva

Whilst trying to photograph a leech a Whirligig beetle was caught on camera.  The children decided that these beetles would soon become very dizzy!

Whiriygig Beetle

During the morning, volunteers carried out a flower survey.  Whilst checking for flowers this Eyed Ladybird was seen.

Eyed Ladybird

Volunteering is never dull at Foxglove.  Today they  were involved in identifying moths, welcoming visitors, helping with the school visit, supporting the bird ringers as they checked boxes and made tea and washed up.  What will they be doing tomorrow?

A huge thank you to everybody who helped today.

STOP PRESS - information just in about the caddis larvae cases -  ‘Most caddis fly larvae are underwater architects and use silk, excreted from salivary glands near their mouths, for building‘.

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Summer Jobs

Tuesday, June 10th 2014

Much of the summer work involves general maintenance of the site keeping everything in good condition for visitors. Volunteers today have been cutting back overhanging branches along some of the smaller paths and net rides. This work will ensure easy access for people as they explore some of the less seen areas at Foxglove.

Volunteers also repaired two dams that had become silted up. Water is now flowing freely once again into the pipes feeding these ponds and ensuring they don't dry up during the breeding season.

John completed his butterfly walk recording good numbers of Small Tortoiseshell, Green Veined Whites and the first sightings of Small Skippers. He also saw the first Four-spotted Chaser of the summer which perched on emergent vegetation posing for this picture! These dragonflies are in flight through to mid-August so keep your eyes peeled next time you are visiting Foxglove.

Thank you to all the volunteers who have helped out on the reserve today!

 

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Flagship Ponds

Monday, June 9th 2014

Our Wetland was created from a boggy area of moorland during the winter of 2008/9. A series of pools were dug with water levels controllable via a series of sluices and adjustable pipes. The ponds were designed such that there was 4km of edge, providing habitat for a wide variety of species including Water Voles, which were released on site during 2009, and for wading birds to breed.

Since its creation the vegetation has grown well, and now supports a diverse and complex vegetation community, in turn supporting a wide range of invertebrate life.

We have just been accepted into The Freshwater Habitats Trust's Flagship Pond Scheme for ponds across the reserve as part of their People Ponds & Water project, funded by the Heritage Lottery Fund. For more information see their website here. This is also supported by Natural England and recognises areas that are of particular value because they support Biodiversity Action Plan species and very rich assemblages of plants and creatures. This acknowledges that ponds here on the reserve are some of the best in the country in terms of biodiversity. The project aims to help support our work here, ensuring their quality is maintained.

This morning we walked the wetland checking the water levels and we were astounded at the diversity of plants flowering just now. Vetches showed a vivid burst of colour amongst the grasses and were punctuated with the blues of Speedwells and yellows of Buttercups and Tormentil.

Marsh Cinquefoil was found in one of the 'protected' ponds where no work can be carried out due to the presence of a rare mud snail, Omphiscola glabra, found at only a few locations in the country.

Lousewort is now spreading out from the wetland and has been found at numerous other locations on the moorland. This locally rare plant is semi-parasitic drawing nutrients from plants growing near by.

If you follow our blog you might remember the days and weeks volunteers have spent clearing coarse rushes from this area. This year they have grown much less vigorously and are less dense across the habitat, allowing a richer plant community to flourish. Thank you all again for your hard work and perseverance with this management programme, we are definitely starting to reap the benefits of our hard work!
 

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Orchids

Sunday, June 8th 2014

First, some information about the caterpillar that was shown on yesterday's Blog. David, a volunteer, posted a comment that he had seen it before and thought that it was Svensson's Copper Underwing. 

Orchids are growing all over the reserve, many in places where they have not been seen before.  Volunteers who do the strimming of paths now have a map with all these areas marked, making strimming an interesting exercise!  Thank you for going around them all!

They are beautiful flowers and add a lovely splash of colour when they are in full bloom.  Unfortunately they do not come with a name tag and ID can be very difficult as they easily hybridise with each other.  Some books state that the pattern on the lower lobe of the flower can be used for ID.  However I do not think that the orchids have read these books!!!

This orchid is growing in an area where there are Northern Marsh and apparently once upon a time a Heath Spotted.  It does not appear to be either.

Orchid

A possible Northern Marsh Orchid, but it does not look quite right for that species.

Possibly Northern Marsh Orchid

Definitely a Northern Marsh - well possibly?

Northern Marsh again? (When this photo was downloaded it could be seen that there is a spiders's web around some of the flowers and that some have been chewed.)

Northern Marsh?

And this one has the looks of a Common Spotted Orchid, but it is far too early for this to be in flower.

Possible Common Spotted?

And finally, growing where most of the orchids we call Northern Marsh are growing, was this small one.  Any ideas please?

An orchid

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Photographs from Foxglove

Saturday, June 7th 2014

Rain in summer does not go down very well but it does make for some photographic opportunities as Brian's photo shows.  Rain drops on a Welsh Poppy.

Raindrops on Welsh Poppy

Ragged Robin lives up to its name after rain,  but this one was photographed in full sunshine.

Ragged Robin

Jenny has not only captured Lousewort but a small Tormentil flower.

Lousewort and Tormentil

This unknown species of caterpillar was spotted munching his way through a willow leaf.  Photo taken at 1026 yesterday.

Caterpillar on willow leaf

This one was taken at 1323.  He had consumed all the leaf.  There were plenty more on the small willow, not sure if there will be today!

Caterpillar with no willow leaf

And finally, when this photograph was downloaded it looked a little peculiar.  There appeared to be something not quite right about the head of the damselfy.  However on closer inspection the damselfly was actually looking around, so making its eye appear to be on its back!

Damselfly looking around

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More Birds

Friday, June 6th 2014

As usual at this time of year the bird ringers are out many evenings and weekends checking nest boxes in Foxglove and on the surrounding training area. 

In one box there were three Little Owls.  These birds have suffered during the recent severe winters so it was good to find some healthy chicks.  Their nest does not look like much house cleaning has been carried out!

Little Owls in the nest box

The ringers also ring wader chicks out on the moors.  These are the first Curlew chicks of the year ringed by the Stroud family!

Curlew chicks

This well grown Golden Plover chick is already showing the beautiful colouring that it will have as an adult.

Golden Plover chick

The bird ringers are also involved in CES, raising the nets at dawn and ten and a half hours later taking them down.  Curlew, Cuckoo and Green Woodpecker songs greeted the ringers this morning.  Today it was CES 4. For once there was a 'proper' sunrise with blue sky and white fluffy clouds.  A total of 98 birds of 20 species were caught during the session.

Dawn approaching over the reed bed

And finally the sun showing itself over the heath.

Sunrise over the heath

It was a relatively quiet day but very interesting.  One of the early net rounds returned this adult Woodcock.

Woodcock

Several Blackcap were caught and this photograph shows the black headed male and the almost coppery brown head of the female.

A pair of Blackcaps

It was certainly the day of the Robin with 17 new birds, almost all juveniles being ringed. There were young Nuthatches, Long Tailed Tits, Greenfinches, Goldcrests, and Song Thrushes ringed also - and the first very small Bullfinch!  Willow Tits are rare and it was pleasing to retrap one that was seven years old.  Later in the day another surprise when a juvenile Willow Tit was returned to the ringing room.  Once the records were checked we found that the last youngster ringed was in July 2011.  It is good news that these birds are breeding on the reserve again.

As the forecast for the weekend was poor CES was brought forward.  Some of the ringers work, but they arrived for dawn, went off to work and then returned to help to take down the nets.  A huge thank you to you all for the exceptional support.

Volunteers at Foxglove always carry out a multitude of tasks. This week is no exception with volunteers bird ringing, preparing  for and helping at the coffee morning, mowing and strimming, trimming and loppering, meeting and greeting.  These are only a few of the tasks carried out.  As a result the net rides were in perfect condition and Foxglove is looking fantastic.   A huge thank you to everybody involved.  Footnote: thanks should also be given to those who put the blogs together and strive to keep you updated on the activities in and around the reserve.

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Team Cappuccino Returns!

Thursday, June 5th 2014

Richmond Town Hall was a hive of activity early this morning as Team Cappuccino set up for our Coffee Morning. They worked fantastically hard and managed to beat their total from November 2013 by £15.18, making a profit of £346.77 this morning!

As well as preparing for and running the event they also baked delicious cakes, bringing in £68.80. The tombola was run as usual by John and Jean, raising £50. The raffle, combined with the door takings, raised us £203.10. The bric-a-brac and Foxglove stalls bought in £28.40 and £33 respectively.

This represents a brilliant effort yet again from our team of dedicated volunteers. We are so grateful to you all for your enthusiasm and hard work which makes Foxglove the marvellous place we all know!

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Team Tuesday

Tuesday, June 3rd 2014

Volunteers were out in force again helping to maintain the pathways and habitats here at your favourite local nature reserve. The main task for the morning was clearing invasive Silver Birch and Willow from the Scrapes which had started to encroach around several of the ponds.

Everyone got stuck in and before we knew it the pool edges were clear and the area much improved.

After a quick break volunteers prepared the net rides for the 4th CES bird ringing session this weekend, and strimmed along pathways to keep them open, as well as cutting back overhanging branches on the footpath along Risedale Beck.

It is the first of our Coffee Mornings at Richmond Town Hall on Thursday, if anyone has any donations for the raffle or tombola, or some tasty treats for the cake stall please bring them into the Field Centre tomorrow or drop them off in Richmond on Thursday morning.

Thank you everyone for your hard work today!

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Fungi

Monday, June 2nd 2014

The recent damp weather has provided ideal conditions for many fungi to fruit; looking carefully as you walk around the reserve you will find several species out including Common Eyelash Fungus, Helvella corium, and this rather striking Coral Spot. This fungus is commonly found on dead and decaying wood and can easily be spotted along the woodland trail. There are two distinct stages that produce independent fruit bodies; this is the conidial stage where reproduction is asexual.

Spend a bit of time looking through the undergrowth to see what you can find on your next visit to Foxglove!

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Bird Ringing Round-Up

Sunday, June 1st 2014

Some nest boxes had to be revisited as the chicks were too small to be ringed when first checked.  Below is a typical Nuthatch nest with the cup made from carefully collected pieces of pine cones and flakey bark.  The entrance is usually sealed with mud!

Nuthatch nest made of pine cone pieces

At this nest the ringers processed the young but were able to ring the female too.

Female Nuthatch

In a larger nest box, with a totally different type of nest, were Kestrel chicks.  These will not be ready to ring for another week or so.

Kestrel chicks

Bird boxes give some protection from the weather, although rain and cold can prevent the adults from finding enough food for their young.  However the ground nesting birds, like Lapwings, can only be protected by the adults brooding them, as the nests are in the open.  There is one egg just about to hatch in this Lapwing nest.

Lapwing nest with egg just beginning to hatch

Although conditions have been variable, this well grown Lapwing has survived and is doing well.

Well grown Lapwing chick

The bird ringers found a dead Lapwing on the road yesterday that was ringed at the same spot on 11 May 2010 as a chick!  It is the first Lapwing they have ever had a recovery of - and the ringers found it themselves!   They have ringed over 1500, but this is the only evidence they have had that Lapwing return to their natal area to breed - although it is not surprising.

Another wader chick ringed was this beautiful Snipe.

Snipe chick

Although the weather has not been good down on Salisbury Plain, Jack has managed to ring some Whitethroat chicks.

Whitethroat chicks

He then had an excellent find of a Lesser Whitethroat nest.  These birds are now quite scarce.

Lesser Whitethroat nest

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