(28) Blog Posts Made in January 2015

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Photographs

Saturday, January 31st 2015

A request for photographs means time spent in front of the computer.  A search begins to see if what is needed can be found amongst a filing system that needs some attention!   However it is very easy to get sidetracked! 

These Marsh Marigold flowers were open as the sun shone on them in the late spring, last year.

Marsh Marigold

One pond in the Scrapes is host to Bogbean and it is almost totally white in spring, as these beautiful flowers bloom.

Bogbean

Slightly later in the spring parts of the reserve turn blue as the Bluebell flowers bend their heads and open.

Bluebells

Patches of pink in summer show themselves to be Ragged Robin.

Ragged Robin

A slightly different pink is that of the Foxgloves.

Foxgloves

Ah well, back to reality, snow!

Snow

And just for information the photograph requested still has not been found - keep looking!

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Foxglove in Winter

Friday, January 30th 2015

Like much of the country Foxglove is covered under a layer of snow, and is glistening in the low winter sun.

Views across the recently finished coppice area are fantastic.

As we were filling the feeders we stopped at the pond dipping platform and looking down into the ice saw water boatmen swimming across an open area of water where the ice had broken.

Visitors have reported good numbers of birds in the reserve today, flocking to the feeders to top up their energy reserves in the cold weather. Brambling, Lesser Redpoll and Long Tail Tits have all delighted birdwatchers as they sat patiently in the hides.

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Coppicing

Thursday, January 29th 2015

Volunteers once again found themselves in the coppice block and for part of the morning were working in blizzard conditions!

Before long the sun came out and we were able to get the fire going.

The last few patches of Blackthorn, Hawthorn and Willow were cleared and the brash burnt. We can finally say we have finished this section of the coppice block, and for the next couple of weeks will be able to concentrate on some other areas of the reserve.

We have spent most Tuesdays and Thursdays here in the past three months; a mammoth amount of work has been completed to a very high standard by all who have been involved. Here is a picture from one of the first days we were working here.

This photo, taken from the same point, shows how much the views in the scrapes have been changed.

Thank you to everyone who has worked so hard on this project, it will be exciting to see what species can be found here as the weather warms up in the spring.
 

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AGM Postponement

Wednesday, January 28th 2015

Unfortunately due to adverse weather conditions we have made the decision to postpone tonight’s AGM. It will now take place at Wathgill on Wednesday the 4th of February at 1900. Please accept our apologies for any inconvenience caused and we hope you can make it next week.

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Nearly There!

Tuesday, January 27th 2015

Work continued today in the coppice block; Hawthorn trees were thinned out to create a more open canopy and to provide the remaining trees more light and space to grow. We had felled several of these yesterday so a clear up mission was launched first thing.

The last few pockets of willow along path edges were also coppiced today; opening up and completely changing the feel of the area. Willow was processed to be used as withies for our Willow Spiling project on Risedale Beck next month – this will reinforce a section of the bank that is prone to erosion.

Everyone will be glad to hear this section of coppicing is nearly complete; we expect just one more day of work here to finish of the last little bits, before having a break from coppicing for a couple of weeks.

As always, thank you to everyone who has helped out on the reserve today.

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Plants during Winter

Sunday, January 25th 2015

During winter there are not many flowers to be recorded, but the hint of what is to come, when the days lengthen and the temperature rises, can be seen.

Honeysuckle has green leaves through the winter.

Green leaves of Honeysuckle

Later in the year the climbing, twisting stems will be covered with beautiful, scented flowers that will feed many insects.  

Honeysuckle flower

During the summer the white fluffy heads of Cotton Grass put on a magnificent display in the ponds.

Cotton Grass

Once the season changes to autumn and then to winter, the plant dies back.  However look closely now and there are still some stems to be seen.  These will soon begin to grow and show green, once the weather warms up.

Cotton Grass in winter

Amongst last year's leaves the new shoots of Primroses are begining to grow.  Some have developed further and are showing their pale yellow flowers.

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Garden Birdwatch

Saturday, January 24th 2015

This morning volunteers arrived to carry out the RSPB Garden Birdwatch.  Whilst getting prepared and checking the birds in the back garden a cry went up 'A Brambling!'.  Binoculars came out, directions were given - at the back, near the feeder, on the cut tree trunk, left a bit - and sure enough, a Brambling, the first of the winter.

The hour started and the birds were recorded.

Volunteers bird couting

Nuthatch, Blackbird and Bullfinch were on the list when the Long Tailed Tits arrived, all seven of them.  This photograph, taken through the window, does include all seven of them!

Long Tailed Tits

 A Robin also made an appearance.

Robin

At the end of the hour 16 species had been recorded, unfortunately the Brambling was not seen again!  Thank you to eveyone who took part.

Goldfinch had not made an appearance in the back garden, but they were sighted feeeding in Larch, near the moorland. 

Goldfinch feeding on Larch seeds

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Dates for your Diary

Friday, January 23rd 2015

A quick reminder that the AGM is being held at 1900 at Wathgill on Wednesday 28th January – all are welcome to attend.

Glennis will be taking part in the RSPB Big Garden Bird Watch tomorrow in the Field Centre. She will be counting the birds feeding in the back garden from 1030, come and join her if you are interested in finding out a little bit more about the birdlife found on the reserve.

All of our spring and early summer events have now been planned. If you would like to find out what is going on and to book your place please check the events page on our website.
 

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Team Thursday and a Stonechat

Thursday, January 22nd 2015

The Thursday gang once again found themselves working in the coppice block.

We made good progress and started pollarding the net rides that are found at the edge of this block as well as coppicing the last few willow stools.

During the morning a Stonechat was seen foraging in the soft ground for worms, sometimes only a few feet away from us. At one stage it was sitting on the handle of the fork being used to turn in the fire.  This is the first sighting of the species on the reserve since 2004. Stonechats get their name from their call which sounds like two stones being tapped together.

After lunch a mist net was erected near to where the volunteers were working. It was not long before the Stonechat landed in one of the shelves and became the first of the species to be ringed on the reserve.  The volunteers enjoyed seeing and learning about the process of bird ringing and seeing the Stonechat so close up.  It was a male bird born last year.

Thank you to everyone who has helped out today and to Terry for letting us use his fantastic photo.

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Coppicing in the Snow

Tuesday, January 20th 2015

Today the volunteers were out in force despite snow lying on the ground. We focused our efforts on the removal of Blackthorn from this year’s coppice block.

The removal of Blackthorn is a really tough job as it is very spikey and grows in dense thickets which makes it difficult to cut down and place on the fire. The volunteers attacked the task with their usual gusto and cleared a large area.

We have now nearly finished the largest section of this year’s coppice block. We are hoping that one more Tuesday should complete it. No doubt the volunteers will be happy to hear that; we will then take a short break from the coppicing to complete some other tasks around the reserve.

The quantity and quality of the work done in this year's coppice block is outstanding and our thanks go to everyone who was here today and to everyone else that has contributed over the last few months.
 

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Otters on Risedale Beck

Monday, January 19th 2015

Thanks to Ken we have managed to capture some fantastic footage of Otters down on Risedale Beck. The video was captured at night using a motion activated camera just before Christmas. They are very welcome visitors to the reserve coming here to feed on the fish that reside in the beck.

Keep watching this space for further footage of Badgers later this week. Thank you Ken for continuing to provide us with the videos.

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Bird Ringing

Sunday, January 18th 2015

The bird ringers were visitng another site today.  Sunrise was glorious.

Sunrise

It was to be cold and dry all morning, but snow showers soon arrived.

Snow showers

 Between the showers birds were caught and processed.

Ringing

126 birds were caught, 97 new - of which 23 were Blackbirds,  The two retrapped Blackbirds were 9 and 8 years old respectively which is remarkable.  A Great Spotted Woodpecker was 6 years old and a Nuthatch 5 years old.  A Blue Tit, Marsh Tit and Reed Bunting were all at least 3 years old.  The photograph below shows a male Reed Bunting with his black markings, and  the lighter, brown female.

Male and female Reed Bunting

It was a fun session and productive in the freezing weather!

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Snow at Foxglove

Saturday, January 17th 2015

Over the last few days snow has arrived at Foxglove!  It has transformed the reserve from the winter blacks, greys and browns to a wonderful white.

Sunshine and shadows across the Hazel Avenue. 

Hazel Avenue in the snow

Nobody has been pond dipping!  

Pond dipping platform

The moorland looked bleak and cold (and felt it!).

The moorland

Sturdy gates onto the moor became very heavy to open and close with their additional coating of snow.

Gate covered with snow

Water and ice droplets were hanging on the vegetation and glistening in the sunshine.

Water and ice droplets

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Aquatic Life

Friday, January 16th 2015

In October we were visited by the people behind www.uk-wildlife.co.uk who came to photograph the rarely seen aquatic life in Risedale Beck. They took samples from the beck and then brought them into the field centre to study and photograph. They have kindly sent us these amazing pictures that show in great detail some of the weird and wonderful things that make their home in our fresh waterbodies.

The picture below shows a Burrowing Mayfly Nymph, which will live in the water from one to three years, depending on the species, before emerging as adult fly. They have very strong legs for digging burrows in the river bed in which they live. Their gills are on their backs and are covered by hard cases to prevent them from clogging up with the fine silt of the river bed.

Below is a Stonefly Larva. In order to breath Stonefly Larvae require a very high level of dissolved oxygen in the water so they have a very low tolerance to water pollution. Stonefly Larvae can therefore be used as an indicator of high water quality, so are a very welcome find in Risedale Beck.

Finally the picture below is of a Marsh Beetle Larva which is typically associated with stagnant water but as in this case can be found in flowing water. As shown here they are characterised by having antennae that are longer than their heads and they are many jointed.

Have you taken any amazing pictures whilst visiting Foxglove? If you have we would always love to see them so please send them to us at foxglovelnr@btinternet.com
 

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Foxglove in the News!

Thursday, January 15th 2015

There is a good write up in today's edition of The Northern Echo following Rishi Sunak's visit to the reserve yesterday. 

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Visiting a Winter Wonderland

Wednesday, January 14th 2015

With a fresh covering of snow overnight Foxglove was looking at its best, glistening in the low winter sun.

We were joined at lunch by Rishi Sunak, the Conservative Parliamentary Candidate for Richmond in the General Election. He sat and spoke to volunteers and friends listening to their passionate descriptions of the reserve, the wildlife and the fantastic community that can be found here supporting Foxglove on whatever day you choose to visit.

Volunteers could also be found out and about on the reserve as the clearance work continued after the recent storms. Brash from five more trees was cleared away this morning.

Once work in the woodland was completed, they turned their hands to building the new feeding station for the wetland. A baffle was created out of an old oil drum to keep squirrels from reaching the feeders. Once the paint has dried and the winds have dropped this will be installed close to the Wetland Hide.

Thank you to everyone who has supported us here today, all of your help is really valued and makes such a big difference to the reserve.

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Team Tuesday

Tuesday, January 13th 2015

Work continued today clearing damage from the recent storms, more trees had come down in the night and again we worked hard to clear pathways to keep these open for visitors. Several trees in the Woodland were also cleared, with high winds forecast for the next two days we are expecting more damage to come.

Volunteers continued their work in the coppice block after clearing brash from a nearby fallen Rowan tree and re-staking many of the trees that we have planted over the past two years.

They have made a fantastic difference here, completely opening up the view from the Voley Ponds.

Thank you to everyone for your hard work here today!

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Wind Damage

Monday, January 12th 2015

Much of the day has been spent checking the woodland areas of the reserve for damage after the stormy conditions last night. Unsurprisingly, several trees had lost the battle with the elements and lay splintered and broken on the woodland floor.

Several of these had fallen across paths or were ‘hung up’ on other trees. Work was needed to clear the pathways and make sure all hung up trees were safely felled. We will have our work cut out over the next few days to clear all of the damage; with gales forecast over the next few days it is likely that there will be more fallen trees before the week is out.

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January Winter Worky Day

Saturday, January 10th 2015

Almost thirty volunteers joined us in glorious sunshine to help improve some of the habitats here on the reserve. The group split and worked on two different areas, the first clearing an overgrown stream near to the lake.

Everyone worked hard here and soon good progress had been made. Opening up this area will allow more light into the nearby woodland; this will promote the growth of new trees which are going to be planted over the coming weeks.

In the high winds last night several trees were lost on the reserve. This old and rotten Rowan was one of them. Robin worked for part of the morning making these safe so that they can be cleared away over the next few days.

The second team continued work in the coppice block and cleared another large section of willow.

Much of the cut willow was put to one side ready for future projects, including reinforcing a section of the riverbank along Risedale Beck by willow spiling.

During the afternoon the weather turned and we finished the day in driving snow – by this point the fires were going well and kept us warm!

Thank you to everyone who has helped today, it won’t be long until spring returns and we can enjoy all the benefits of your hard work.

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Tales of the Riverbank

Friday, January 9th 2015

John has spent the last two Sunday mornings, in near freezing conditions, watching over some of the ponds on the reserve to see what wildlife was about. His efforts have not been in vain and he has recorded several species of bird, seen many Roe Deer, and taken some fantastic photographs of this Water Vole.

Water Voles were released onto the reserve during 2009. Since then they have spread from the original release sites and signs of their presence can be found around the majority of the ponds on the reserve. During the winter food can be scarce; volunteers have taken to leaving apples out around the edges of the ‘Voley Ponds’ - we have been rewarded with frequent good sightings of these adorable mammals.

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Another Productive Day

Thursday, January 8th 2015

Today the volunteers split into two groups to complete very different tasks. The first “technical” group spent the day building a new frame to hang bird feeders on. They did a fantastic job creating the frame which is now lovingly referred to as the “gallows”. It is going to be erected near the wetland to give a greater variety of bird sightings from the hide.

The second group braved the blustery winds and occasional shower up by the wetland hide to do one of the volunteers all-time favourite jobs of Gorse removal. They worked hard in difficult conditions and made a fantastic job of clearing the area around the wetland hide where the new feeders will sit. We also did the preparatory ground works for the placement of the new bird feeder.

Unfortunately we didn’t manage to source the much needed drum to keep the squirrels off the feeders until late this afternoon but the team are looking forward to completing the task and erecting the new feeders next week.

It was a very productive day and all the hard work is really appreciated so thank you very much.
 

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Christmas Quiz 2014 Answers and Results

Wednesday, January 7th 2015

Thank you all once again for supporting our Quiz, especially those who returned their solutions.

The answer to number 36 was ‘The Queen’s Speech’, but as several of you put ‘The Herald Angels”, and it was appropriate, it was accepted.

Two people had 40, and the one whose name was drawn out of the hat was Graham Newcombe, and so he will receive the £10 token.

We raise approximately £100 per quiz, and all the money goes to Foxglove Covert.  The next one will be launched in the near future.  Please buy one for yourself, and some for your friends!

Once again, many thanks to Friend of FGC, Pat Thistlethwaite who is already compiling the next one.

Answers:

  1. Star
  2. Manger
  3. Sleigh
  4. Stable
  5. Mistletoe
  6. Candlemas
  7. Mincemeat
  8. Santa
  9. Poinsettia
  10. The fairy on the Christmas tree
  11. Presents
  12. White Christmas
  13. Crib
  14. Five gold rings
  15. Mince pies
  16. Ox
  17. Ass
  18. Three French hens
  19. Marzipan
  20. Holly
  21. Turkey
  22. Reindeer
  23. Boxing Day
  24. Good King Wenceslas
  25. Noel
  26. Winter
  27. Tinsel
  28. Decorations
  29. Capricorn
  30. Norway
  31. Christmas
  32. Scrooge
  33. Crackers
  34. Candles
  35. Christmas tree
  36. The Queen's Speech/The Herald Angels
  37. Magi
  38. Gabriel
  39. Yule log
  40. Aladdin

Results:

40 Graham Newcombe * winner.
40 Michael Fenwick
39 Ray and Eileen Ellis
39 Tony and Lilian Cooper
39 Kathleen Wilkinson
39 Barbara Jolley
38 Mike and Anne Bacon
34 Caroline Stott
33 Trish Illingworth
26 Cathy Mcleod

Congratulations to all these people for doing so well.

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Net Ride Improvement

Tuesday, January 6th 2015

Sixteen volunteers were eager to get out working on the reserve after the Christmas break.  We spent time finishing off the far corner of the coppice block and pollarding along a net ride. Here is the photo just as work began.

Vegetation is managed along the net rides by pollarding. This involves removing the upper limbs of a tree, promoting a dense head of branches. This work maintains the vegetation at the most effective level for the bird ringers who use mist nets along these rides.

With the pile of brash growing the fire was started and in no time at all was roaring away.

Students from the Dales School joined us again and helped process all of the cut material so that it was ready to go on the fire.

We finished just as the light was starting to fade; what a difference from this morning!

Thank you to everyone today for all of your hard work to improve this area of the reserve.

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Treecreeper

Monday, January 5th 2015

One of the more infrequently spotted birds on the reserve is a Treecreeper - Terry took this fantastic photograph of one on Friday afternoon out of the Tower Hide at the Lake.

Treecreepers are insectivorous and climb up trees like a mouse where they search the crevices of bark for food and prise out insects using its fine, curved bill. Once at the top of a tree it then flies to the base of another with a distinctive erratic flight.

Treecreepers nest in tree crevices, or behind flaking bark, typically laying 5-6 pink-speckled white eggs. Like woodpeckers these birds have stiff tail feathers which help support them as they creep up tree trunks.

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First Bird Ringing of 2015

Sunday, January 4th 2015

Although not a month past the shortest day, the time of arrival for the bird ringers is already getting earlier!  It was bitterly cold this morning but that did not stop there being activity.  Mallard and Moorhen could be heard calling on the Lake.  A Buzzard was mewing and seen flying overhead.  The Great Spotted Woodpeckers were drumming.  Flying in their characteristic 'V' shape, Greylag Geese headed out towards the training area.

Greylag Geese

Jays have been seen feeding in the back garden and during the day two were returned to the ringing room including this first year bird.

Jay

Not many Lesser Redpolls have been spotted on the reserve so far this winter but they made an appearance today.

Lesser Redpoll

Redwings have been feeding amongst various berries, mainly Holly and Hawthorn. When one was brought into the ringing room, a photograph was called for.  As always the welfare of the birds is paramount, but there is no other way to describe this bird's expression other than 'grumpy'!

Redwing

It was very pleasing to see some Great Tits, ringed in the next boxes during 2013 and 2014, come through the ringing room.   Many of the birds processed today were last year's young, but there were adults of two, three or four years old.  In total 172 birds were processed, including Blackbird, Greenfinch, Siskin, Reed Bunting and Nuthatch. 

It was not quite sunset when the bird ringers left this afternoon, but the sun was going down.

Nearly sunset

Thank you to everyone who helped during the day. 

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Leaves

Saturday, January 3rd 2015

In the middle of winter there are few flowers around.  However if you look closely at patches of green, leaves can be seen and identified.  This Primrose plant is showing the old leaves from last spring but also new leaves.  These leaves will feed the plant as spring approaches, so that it can flower before the leaf canopy grows.

New Primrose leaves

Come spring many places on the reserve will turn yellow as the Primroses bloom.

Primrose

Another plant showing its leaves is Dog Daisy.  Unusually this clump is growing right at the water's edge.

Dog Daisy Leaves

During June, these flowers line some of the paths providing pollen and nectar for many insects, but particularly bees.

Dog Daisy Flowers

Honeysuckle is a climbing shrub and can often be seen with its stem wrapped around young trees.  It is in leaf now, coping with ice and rain.

Honeysuckle leaves

Later in the year the scented flowers provide food for moths and butterflies.

Honeysuckle in flower

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New Year’s Walk

Friday, January 2nd 2015

Many people took advantage of the crisp, bright winter weather and visited Foxglove today. Each came back with exciting stories of what they had spotted from the hides or as they walked through the reserve. Several saw Roe Deer and a Sparrowhawk, as well as one sighting of a Treecreeper feeding in the trees behind the lake hide.

Six visitors also enjoyed a guided walk during the morning where we spotted thirteen species of bird. We also discussed the work we have completed during the previous year and the exciting projects planned for the coming months.
 

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New Year’s Day and a List

Thursday, January 1st 2015

There were many visitors walking around Foxglove, enjoying the rather blustery, damp day.  The characteristic scent of Fox had been noted along with another sighting of Roe Deer.

Glennis and Elizabeth visited the hide with a list - Otter, Roe Deer and Kingfisher - all to be photographed.  Oh and a Water Vole would not come amiss either!  Binoculars were used to count 15 Mallard and nine Moorhen.  Leaving the hide, a photograph of the Mallard, not on the list, was taken. 

Mallard dabbling

Then a second one and a flash of blue ...

Mallard and a flash of blue

... a shout and back over the bridge, binoculars out and sure enough, there was the Kingfisher sitting on one of his favourite perches near the far end of the lake.  A photograph at that distance was really pushing the camera to its limits, so it is a record only.

Back home with one species ticked off the list.

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