(25) Blog Posts Made in October 2014

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Spooky Goings On

Friday, October 31st 2014

Sixteen children and their parents enjoyed a morning of spooky nature themed activities to celebrate Halloween. The morning started off by playing Bat and Moth, a favourite on our educational visits where children learn about how bats use echolocation to hunt.

Once back inside several activities were on offer including pumpkin carving, where some very scary faces were designed.

Everyone enjoyed the broomstick making sessions, where they learned the traditional methods for creating a witch’s broom.

Other activities on offer were making origami bats, kites and spiders. Some very creative designs emerged as the morning progressed. Spiders and other invertebrates were also collected and magnified onto the projector screen for everyone to see up close.

We hope you all enjoyed yourselves and wish you a very spooky Halloween!

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A Surprise Visitor

Thursday, October 30th 2014

The Thursday gang started work on another of our winter jobs today; clearing invasive Silver Birch regeneration from sections alongside the access track. This work will help the trees we planted here two years ago to flourish.

We had a surprise this morning as a soldier came in with a Water Rail that had be found in one of the tank garages just off the reserve. Once ringed and all the biometrics had been taken the bird was released into the scrapes, our wetland area between the Field Centre and the Lake.

These secretive birds are widely but thinly distributed through the country. They are found in well vegetated shallow pools where they skulk in the margins feeding mostly on a wide range of aquatic and terrestrial invertebrates and their larvae. Many birds fly in from continental Europe to overwinter, and it is during this period they are most easily seen.

Many thanks to everyone who has helped here on the reserve today.

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Many Varied Tasks

Wednesday, October 29th 2014

Blame the clocks going back!  Elizabeth emptied the moth trap and said of a beautiful moth 'Oh Iron Prominent!'  Promptly handing it to the moth-ers and leaving them to confirm the identity of that moth and the others.  The moth-ers poured over the moth books. 'It hasn't got the right markings.'  'It is the wrong size.'  'The flight season is wrong!'

The Moth-ers

At which point a voice from the office shouted 'Try December Moth!'  (Shown below.)  The comments after this were not recorded!!

December Moth

Other moths caught today included Angle Shades, Feathered Thorn and Mottled Umber.  Thank you very much to everyone who identified the moths.

Then it was the turn of the flowers.  It was a glorious Autumn day to head off around the reserve, no wind, blue sky and sunshine.  Amazingly several species were recorded, including Lesser and Greater Spearwort, Herb Robert, Blackberry and Harebell. (Shown below)

Harebell

The flower identifiers did get a little waylaid, by the Goldfinch feeding amongst the Larch trees.

Watching the birds

And then a further stop to look at fungi.

Fungi looking

After all of this it was decided an early lunch with a cup of tea was needed before work started again.

Undergrowth will soon be sent out to Friends, but obviously needs to 'enveloped' first.

Putting Undergrowth into envelopes

Colin came as a visitor until he started trimming the lawns and a fantastic job he made of them.

Colin edging the lawns

Matt, Ken and Brian prepared 'things' for the event on Friday morning.

Visitors today were full of praise for Foxglove, the welcome they recieved and the help and information they were given.  Volunteers contribute so much, in so many different ways, to enable visitors to thoroughly enjoy their visits. The many tasks carried out by volunteers make Foxglove such a very special place.  Thank you to everyone.

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Tuesday volunteers hard at it again

Tuesday, October 28th 2014

What started out as a beautiful clear blue sky morning at Foxglove soon turned to a damp dreary day. But even the weather could not dampen the spirits of the Tuesday volunteer group as they got stuck into the coppicing block.

Despite the rain a well marshalled fire was kept going all day.

We again cleared a large area of this year’s coppice block. We are really pleased with the progress we are making on what is the largest coppice block in the rotation. This is all down to the hard work of the volunteers, so once again a massive thank you to everyone who has pitched in.
 

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Autumn Nature

Sunday, October 26th 2014

Whilst walking around the reserve yesterday with the children, there were still some insects about. This Kidney Spot Ladybird may have been looking for a hibernation site, but it was some way from its favourite Ash trees.

Kidney Spot Ladybird

Fungi are still appearing. A group of puff balls was just beginning to push through the grass. 

A group of puffballs

The markings on the largest one are truly amazing.

Markings on the largest puffball

On the 8th October a photograph was taken of a Foxglove still in flower, along Risedale Beck.  It was still in bloom yesterday!

Foxglove

Whilst flowers are still open to remind us of summer, Autumn is marching on and the leaves are falling.

Coloured autumn leaves

Last year many trees had a  bumper year, producing large quantities of berries, fruits and nuts.  It was thought that this year there would be a poor crop.  However the Holly trees around the reserve are full of berries.

Holly berries

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Eco Club Bonfire Cookery

Saturday, October 25th 2014

Last year this meeting had to be cancelled due to rain and severe muddy conditions around the bonfire site.  However today was just right.  First thing this morning Matt checked the fire and cut and stripped the willow ready for our lunch.  Ruth, Felicity and Brian slaved away in the kitchen wrapping potatoes, coring apples and generally getting really sticky!

Our walk to the Scrapes, took us through part of the woodland, looking at the trees in their autumn colours. 

Walking through the woodland

We took the steps down to Risedale Beck and up the quad bike track as we made our way to the Scrapes.  The bonfire was doing well and the food was ready.  Potatoes were handed round, enough for everyone!

At the bonfire

Felicity, Gordon and Matt were expert cooks and were ably assissted by Ruth and Brian.

At the bonfire

After jacket potatoes, apples with sultanas, raisins and honey, the children tried their hand at cooking savoury twister dough on the stripped willow stems.  These have now been squirreled away for the volunteers to use on the 4th.

Cooking twister dough

The food was enjoyed by everyone. After trial runs to achieve just the right amount of cooking time and temperature of the bonfire (!) the food should be excellent on Tuesday 4th November for the volunteers.

This was the last Eco Club of 2014. Thank you to everyone who helped today and a huge thank you to all the volunteers who have supported Eco Club during the year. 

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Coppicing Continued

Thursday, October 23rd 2014

Today we continued the hard work of the last few weeks on this year’s willow coppicing block. We had an excellent turn out of volunteers and amazing progress was made yet again so thank you all. We finished the day gathered round the fire enjoying a few well deserved roasted Chestnuts.

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Quiz Results

Thursday, October 23rd 2014

The answers for the latest quiz are now in. Congratulations to the winners of this quiz Tony and Lilian Cooper who scored full marks, also to Michael Fenwick, The Darwins and Caroline Stott who scored 37/38.

The answers are as follows:

  1. Peter
  2. Graham
  3. Basil
  4. Boris
  5. Owen
  6. Brian
  7. Justin
  8. Jack
  9. Liam
  10. Eamonn
  11. Ronald (or Arnold)
  12. Alfred
  13. Ivan
  14. Cecil
  15. Frank
  16. Martin
  17. Montague
  18. Timothy
  19. Damian
  20. Ethelred
  21. Norman
  22. Peregrine
  23. Daniel
  24. Derek
  25. Tristram
  26. John
  27. Ben
  28. Edward
  29. Crispin
  30. Jolyon
  31. Henry
  32. Edgar
  33. Simon
  34. Silas
  35. Lionel
  36. Neville
  37. Edmund (Hilary, or Tensing)
  38. Oswald (or Howard)

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Woodland Work

Wednesday, October 22nd 2014

After recent rain and high winds one of the Sycamore trees along our boundary fence in the woodland had blown over. Adam, Matt and Bethany spent the morning clearing this.

The large limbs were methodically cut away, trying to keep the remaining tree as stable as possible.

The brash and larger sections of wood were used to create habitat piles; over time these will become home to many of our woodland invertebrates, as well as providing a safe place  for small mammals and amphibians to hibernate.

The removal of this tree has let much more light reach the woodland floor, opening up a small glade. Already we are wondering what will be found growing here as spring comes round again.

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Team Tuesday

Tuesday, October 21st 2014

In the coppice block, sheltered from the high winds, volunteers worked hard all day cutting back another large area of Silver Birch, Gorse and willow.

Four volunteers from the EE offices in Darlington joined us for the day as part of their charity programme. After a brief introduction to coppicing they quickly got stuck in and enjoyed their day away from the office.

With blue skies a few of the volunteers enjoyed a lunch out, making the most of the autumn sun.

By the afternoon large piles of brash had built up and we concentrated on cutting this down to size before adding it to the bonfire.

Thank you to everyone for the effort they have put in so far, we have made a very good start to the winter work over the last fortnight.

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Another Side of Bird Ringing

Sunday, October 19th 2014

There was a rainbow over Foxglove as the bird ringers arrived this morning.  

Rainbow over Foxglove

The weather was not suitable for ringing today, so a net mending morning was planned.  Over time the nets acquire more holes and larger ones than they should have, so a bit of stitching was needed.  A lesson on what to do...

Mending nets

and then the real stitching began.

Stitching the nets

Some of the loops that are put over the poles to hold the nets in the right position also suffer from wear and tear and needed replacing.

Fixing the loops

There are many things that go on behind the scenes to ensure that ringing can take place.  Washing bird bags, repairing them, charging batteries, mending nets, bringing in food and of course ensuring the net rides are mowed and ready are just some of the jobs that need to be done.  Bird ringers and their support team, Tuesday and Thursday volunteers are all involved, so a huge thank you to everyone.

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Fantastic Fungi

Saturday, October 18th 2014

Eighteen people joined us on the reserve this morning for our annual Fungi Foray with local naturalist Keith Thomas. A dry start to the week left us wondering how much fungi would be be seen; the rain at the end of the week, however, had flushed out many of the fruiting bodies we were hoping to see.

The walk took us across the heathland, along Risedale Beck, up into the woodland and finally across the moorland. The woodland was the most spectacular area we visited and was carpeted in thousands of tiny Mycena species.

Identification tips were learnt for some of the more common species, like this Plums and Custard found sheltered by a rotten trunk.

Thank you to Keith who has given up his time to lead this walk for us. It was enjoyed by all who came along and hopefully the tips will be put to good use as we are all out foraging in the future.

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Dates For Your Diary

Friday, October 17th 2014

There are several events planned here at Foxglove over the coming weeks and months. Our first Winter Worky Day of the season is on Saturday 8th November, with the second on Saturday 6th December. There are fun days where everyone, any age, is welcome to come along and help out with some habitat management tasks. All equipment is provided, as well as a hot lunch for all the workers!

Last Years Winter Workers

The Richmond Coffee Morning on Thursday 13th November is coming around fast; if you are able help on the morning or by donating cakes, raffle prizes or bric-a-brac please contact the reserve managers.

'Team Capuccino'

The annual Festive Willow Weaving morning is on Friday 5th December at 10am. We will spend the morning making and decorating Christmas wreaths before all sharing lunch together. This is a very popular event so book your place soon to avoid disappointment.

Our Christmas Party has been booked at Wathgill, for 7pm on 17th December. There will be a full Christmas dinner along with quizzes, a raffle and live music from The Compass Rose Ceilidh Band. Tickets for this are £12 per person.

To book on any of these events please visit our events page, alternatively speak to Adam or Matt.
 

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Donations

Thursday, October 16th 2014

Down in the diary for today was emptying and counting the donations from our money spinner, found in the entrance of the Field Centre. Volunteers helped us to count the donated money, the total of which was £452. Garth, an ex-bank manager, was clearly excited as can be seen; he counted the money twice just for the sheer pleasure, slipping back into old habits.

Foxglove is free to all who visit, though it does cost over £100,000 per year to run. Donations are the life blood of the reserve and we are very grateful to everyone who has visited and contributed to us in this way.

In other news, three Otters have been seen this afternoon; a family was lucky enough to get fantastic views of them from near the lake hide, moving up the stream towards the weir and then swimming across the lake.
 

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A Mixture of Species

Wednesday, October 15th 2014

The moth trap was emptied this morning and there was a good catch for this time of year.  Seventeen Spruce Carpet moths were caught.  Angle Shades moths are beautifully coloured, especially when newly hatched.  This one was shivering before taking flight.

Angle Shades moth

A moth that did sit, more or less still, was Merville de Jour.  Notice the markings on its legs.

Merville de Jour moth

On the moor a Shaggy Inkcap was spotted, coated with dew drops.

Shaggy Inkcap

Although well into Autumn there are still flowers to be seen.  Most of the Meadow Sweet is now in seed but this flower stood out in the hedge on the moor.

Meadow Sweet

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Team Tuesday

Tuesday, October 14th 2014

Eighteen volunteers enjoyed themselves on the reserve today as we worked on the area of Willow Coppice. This was the view of the work site at the start of the day.

A quick demonstration and talk about coppicing was given to everyone before we got stuck into the task in hand.

Parts of this block have grown thick with Silver Birch, Blackthorn and other species over the years; these are also being cleared out as work is done.

By the end of the day a massive amount of work had been completed and the view transformed.

Thank you to our volunteers who helped out today.

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A Beautiful Autumn Day

Sunday, October 12th 2014

It was a fantastic morning as the bird ringers arrived to raise the nets.  The sun was rising above the trees and casting a golden glow over the reserve highlighting the autumn colours.

Sunshine on the trees

Oak leaves are changing from green to red and orange.

Oak leaves in the sunlight

Yellow/orange Larch trees were reflected on the mirror like surface of the lake.

Reflection is the lake

Mallard and Moorhen were preening and feeding with their calls echoing around the reserve.  Then some Mallard took flight.

Mallard in flight

The morning was cool and after the rain and dew earlier, the intricate webs of many spiders could be seen amongst the vegetation. 

Intrciate web of a spider

There were frost pockets around the reserve and leaves were edged with white.

Frost on leaves

Pink fruits of Spindle are just beginning to open and release their bright orange seeds.

Spindle fruits

Back to the bird ringing. Many visitors saw birds in the hand and listened to an explanation about bird ringing.

Visitors finding out about bird ringing

Over 50 new birds were ringed today, including Song Thrush, Blackbird, Reed Bunting and Lesser Redpoll.

A Kingfisher was caught that had been ringed initially in October 2013, making him over a year old. 

Male Kingfisher

A huge thank you to everyone involved today.

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Recent Ringing Recoveries

Friday, October 10th 2014

This interactive map below shows some of the ringing recoveries we have received from the BTO during September and October.  Red lines represent birds ringed elsewhere and controlled (re-caught) by the Swaledale Ringing Group, while blue lines represent birds ringed by the Swaledale Ringing Group and controlled elsewhere.  You can zoom into the map and to find out more information about a recovery click on the coloured line.


View Foxglove Ringing Recoveries Autumn 2014 in a larger map

Recoveries can provide valuable information about birds including migration, longevity, mortality, population growth, site fidelity and feeding behaviour. The data collected by bird ringers is all sent into the British Trust for Ornithology, which is then used for scientific research and to aid conservation in the UK and in projects around the world.

If you would like to see bird ringing in action come along and meet the Swaledale Ringing Group at Foxglove on Sunday morning.

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Coppicing

Thursday, October 9th 2014

The largest area of Willow Carr in Swaledale is found in the centre of the reserve. This wet woodland is managed through coppicing on a ten year rotation. There are five blocks, with one coppiced every second year. When coppicing willow we cut the stems at the base (stool) in order to allow the plant to regenerate, we will also remove invasive Silver Birch from this block. This method of management allows a varied age structure to develop in the woodland providing habitat for a wide range of species.

Volunteers, both old and new, took to the task with gusto; soon the bonfire was going and a glade had been cleared.

The hard work of our volunteers today means that it will be easy for us to get really stuck into this task as we work next week. Many thanks for your efforts today.

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Voley Ponds

Wednesday, October 8th 2014

Over time all ponds can become clogged with vegetation and periodically need clearing out. This helps to maintain the water quality while controlling the more dominant species. With waders on we soon got stuck in today clearing Reedmace, rushes and weed from the  upper 'voley' pond.  This pond was the first to be constructed on the reserve over the winter 1992/3.

The pond seemed to grow in size as we tugged and pulled and once again found the edges.

After a few hours hard work it was looking much better. Once the silt has settled we will be able to see the creatures lurking in the depths.

Known as the 'Voley Ponds' these ponds are one of the sites where Water Voles were released and regularly seen in 2009. We are planning on setting up a feeding station here to help visitors catch site of these elusive mammals. If you have any old apples please bring them in for Ratty!

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Heathland Work

Tuesday, October 7th 2014

Today saw volunteers busily working on the heathland to finish clearing invasive Silver Birch, Gorse and willow. This 'before' picture shows how these species have come to dominate the heath as they have grown over the summer months, overshadowing much of the Heather.

Before too long the worst had been cut and we were removing smaller plants, uprooting many of these to help reduce this problem over the coming years.

Pupils from the Dales School are visiting the reserve each Tuesday and today joined in helping with the task at hand. They have a variety of activities planned for their visits but are hoping to engage with our volunteers and help with the habitat work as much as possible.

By the end of the day the area resembled a heathland once more; what a transformation!

Thank you to everyone who has helped on this over the past few weeks, the difference it has made is incredible and testament to your dedication and hard work.

 

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Around the Reserve

Sunday, October 5th 2014

Mallard, Moorhen and a single Little Grebe can be seen on the lake.

Mallard on the lake

There are still flowers in bloom, some stand out in the sunshine, like this Black Knapweed.

Black Knapweed

Butterflies are on the wing and making the most of the late flowers.  This Red Admiral was enjoying not only the sunshine but the nectar from the Michaelmas Daisy in the back garden.  You can also see a bee feeding.

Red Admiral

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A Mixture of News

Saturday, October 4th 2014

Yesterday there was a meeting about the Touchscreen Project.  It is a huge task but progress is being made.  We were able to see it in action yesterday and were impressed with the work that has been done. 

This page shows the themes for the quiz.

Page of the Touchscreen project

It will also be possible to search for some of the species found on the reserve and to find out some information about them.

Our Species page

This gives you an idea of what the information page will look like. On this page you will be able to investigate the season it is most likely to be seen and the habitat where it can be found.

Information page

Thank you to Simon for providing these pages.  Also thanks to Jeff for the piece of information about one of our species. Buttercups are poisonous and cattle do not eat them as they do not taste very nice. 

Whilst we were at the Crater on Thursday there was a phone call from Jack Daw on Salisbury Plain.  He had been ringing the day before and caught a Firecrest in his net, but it had escaped before he could reach it.  On Thursday it, or another one, had returned and he was able to ring it.  These birds are tiny, weighing only 6g.

Firecrest

Firecrest

Thank you for the photographs Jack.

Listening to the weather forecast today it does appear that Autumn is well and truly on its way. There was a hint of this at the Crater on Thursday morning with small frost pockets.

Frost on a buttercup leaf

The leaves on the trees at Foxglove are beginning to show some autumn colour.  However with the forecast for strong winds during the coming week, there may not be too many leaves left!

Autumn colours

And finally, an optical illusion?  How many wings does this Common Darter have?

Common Darter

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Repairs and Ringing

Thursday, October 2nd 2014

Tuesday saw an interesting day for volunteers as two of the Belted Galloway cattle escaped from the moorland and spent over four hours evading capture on the training area. Finally, after an exhausting afternoon for everyone involved, they were safely penned into a field near Wathgill. Today our team of volunteers spent time repairing and checking all the fences the cows had damaged on their excursion.

The ringing team have also been busy up at the crater catching Meadow Pipits; to date 1,510 have been ringed along with 16 re-traps. In addition to these, 48 birds of 12 other species have also been ringed including this Yellow Hammer caught earlier today.

Thank you to everyone involved helping in all these activities.

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Wednesday Moths

Wednesday, October 1st 2014

As usual our moth trap was set yesterday evening. With autumn upon us and much cooler nights the numbers caught in the trap are falling from the hundreds seen in the summer months. This morning 11 moths were caught of 7 species including this Red Line Quaker. This species is primarily found in open, damp woodland and has one flight generation between September to October. Once hatched in the spring caterpillars feed on willow catkins moving to the leaves when more mature. During the day the caterpillars hide from predators in spun leaves.

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