(26) Blog Posts Made in October 2015

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Bonfire Cookery!

Saturday, October 31st 2015

The weather this week has been less than kind for outdoor activities, but our last Eco Club of the year was still and fine and dry!  Even the sun came out.

Autumn continues to make the reserve beautiful.  Mirror like, the lake reflected the colours.

Autumn colours at the lake

Blue sky could also be seen!

Blue sky and autumn colours

A walk around parts of the reserve took place on our way to the bonfire.  Children collected seeds to try to grow at home.  Deciduous and evergreen trees were discussed and amazingly there were still some insects around, including a tiny shield bug, a green leaf beetle, and the Gorse Seed Weevils were still in the Gorse seed pods, although a tad damp!  Common Darters took to the wing.

Common Darter

Volunteers at Foxglove have a multitude of skills and cooking was on show today.  Matt built a fire of just the correct size and heat to do the cooking. 

The fire

Potatoes, apples, bananas, bannocks and twister dough were all prepared and transported to the fire for cooking.  The children arrived just as the potatoes were ready to eat.  Cut logs made ideal seats.

Bonfire Cookery

At teh bonfire

Twister dough was cooked after being wrapped around a long stem of willow.

Twister dough cooking

Everyone had a right royal feast! 

A huge thank you to everyone who helped today.

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Not to be Missed!

Friday, October 30th 2015

Saturday the 7th of November is the first of our Winter Worky Days for 2015. These events are really well attended by volunteers new and old and we get together to complete some practical tasks around the reserve.

Once the morning session is complete we will provide you with a lovely curry lunch and numerous cakes to fuel you up for the afternoon. 

These Saturdays are some of the highlights of the Foxglove year where we get an amazing amount of work done and have a really nice day with some wonderful people. Everyone is welcome and we hope to see as many of you here as possible, we just ask that you let us know if you are planning on attending so we can order sufficient food to fill you all up!
 

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Sunshine on a Rainy Day

Thursday, October 29th 2015

This morning got off to a cold and very wet start, so we decided that we would start the day completing some much needed tool maintenance in the workshop and see if the clouds would ever break.

All the tools were cleaned down and sharpened ready for use in the afternoon. After coffee break the weather turned from torrential rain to just drizzle so we headed out to continue the work that we started last week, clearing overhanging vegetation from the stream that flows from the lake.

Everyone got stuck into the task and we managed to clear another long section that was really overgrown and we even managed to see the sun for a brief moment this afternoon. Thanks to everyone for your hard work today.
 

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Pumpkins Galore

Wednesday, October 28th 2015

Today as part of our half-term activity events we had a Halloween themed craft day, in our bat and spider decorated classroom we had 19 children plus parents making  pumpkin lanterns, spooky spiders  and witch’s brooms. 

There was also string pictures and colouring in to do as well, with some very impressive Bats, which we have added to our Bat Corner. 

Part way through the morning there was some creepy looking cakes to enjoy, despite their strange colours they tasted good.

Don't worry chaps, he's stuffed and couldn't eat another thing!

Thank you to all those who came in and helped today, it was spooktacular.

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Under the Boardwalk

Tuesday, October 27th 2015

A damp and misty start did not deter our band of willing volunteers, they eagerly set about continuing the task we started last week, clearing trees and shrubs adjacent to the boardwalk near the lake hide.  Last week the side abutting the small orchard area was cleared, this week it was the lake side.

It is much clearer now, letting light and air into the boardwalk which we hope will help it dry off after wet weather as it can become a little slippery underfoot when wet.  We selectively fell, leaving some of the older and larger trees nearer the waterline, these will act to screen the lake off just enough so that waterfowl are not frightened as people approach the hide to view them. 

There was of course our usual brash bonfire to give us all a rosy glow.

As is often the case in conservation management it is a balancing act, balancing the needs of wildlife with those of people.  We strive to get it right. Thank you to all those who came and helped today, as they say ‘many hands make light work’ and the difference you all make in just one day is truly amazing.
 

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Pillwort and Mud Snail Surveying

Monday, October 26th 2015

A few weeks ago we held Mud Snail and Pillwort identification sessions with the help of the Freshwater Habitats Trust in order to train our willing volunteers to be able to survey for these nationally scarce species.

Today we headed up to the wetland to carry out the surveys for the 2015 season. On the training days we identified ponds that have nationally significant populations of Mud Snails and Pillwort and these were designated as the focal ponds. The Mud Snail focal pond was surveyed for abundance of the snails; this is a tricky process of sampling the ponds for sixty seconds and then removing the snails from the sample.

Each snail is then studied to identify if it is a Mud Snail or one of a number of other species such as Marsh Snail that are found on the reserve. The abundance is then recorded and we were pleased to find seven Mud Snails in the survey at the focal pond. The other ponds in the area were then checked for the presence of Mud Snails and again we were very pleased to find them in one of the adjacent ponds.

We also completed the survey for Pillwort, again using an identified focal pond as a starting point and recording the coverage of Pillwort in that pond.

We then checked the surrounding ponds and again found it growing in another one of our wetland ponds.

The results of the survey will now be fed into the PondNet database as a baseline record of the abundance of both species here at Foxglove. We will continue to carry out these surveys year on year which will enable us to see how the species are progressing and allow us to identify suitable management methods to ensure they continue to thrive.

We would like to thank Anne Heathcote from the Freshwater Habitats Trust for coming to help us today and also our volunteers who carried out these important surveys.
 

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Still Around.

Sunday, October 25th 2015

Surprisingly some insects are easy to find in autumn.  This Eyed Ladybird was spotted by a child from Hipswell School, trying to hide on the rail of a bridge across Risedale Beck.  It was placed in a container for everyone to see and returned to its post.  A casual glance as the next group went past and it was still there!  So back in the container and examined and then back on the post!  You could almost hear it saying 'I only want to find somewhere safe to hibernate in peace and quiet!'

Eyed Ladybird

On an earlier visit, a pond dipping group caught a Great Diving Beetle.  Although they are often found in water they can fly.  An unsuccessful trawl of web sites has not yielded any information about where the adults spend the winter.   A guess would be that they dig into the silt in the pond. Pond Skaters hibernate in log piles, carefully tucking away their legs.  A suspicion that the Great Diving Beetle may do the same. (Thank you to Neville for the photograph.)

Great Diving Beetle adult

There is still warmth in the sun and butterflies will take every opportunity to sunbathe and feed when they can.  A Red Admiral thought the headlight on a car was an ideal place to receive the maximum amount of heat.  It will hibernate in a cool place, the workshop, crevices in trees or in other buildings.


Red Admiral

Many caterpillars will head for a suitable site in which to pupate over winter.  A bright green caterpillar, thought to be a Poplar Hawkmoth, was found by Brian and Leanne.  This caterpillar will pupate underground near the food plants, which include Aspen and willows.  It will hatch out in May or July.

Green Caterpillar thought to be Poplar Hawkmoth

 

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More Autumn Colours

Saturday, October 24th 2015

Autumn is progressing and the colours in Foxglove just keep getting better.   Around the lake the colours are deepening. 

Autumn colours

On a calm day the reflections are impressive.

Autumn colours at the lake and the reflections

Until the Mallards have a disagreement and disturb the stillness!

Ripples

Elsewhere on the reserve, reds, yellows and greens can still be seen, but the stark tree trunks and branches are beginning to show through.

Reds, yellows and greens.

The moor end of the Sycamore Avenue is always a joy to walk and in autumn the path turns orange with fallen Larch needles.

Larch needles on the path

Walking around Foxglove at this time of year your eyes are drawn to the next tree and the next patch of colour but it is well worth lifting your eyes to the skies as they too can be dramatic.

Sky

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All Creatures Great and Small

Friday, October 23rd 2015

Well it’s definitely turned colder overnight, but at least it was bright and dry for what will probably be our last school field visit this year, which again was from Hipswell Primary school. 
Today we took them out around the reserve to observe the changing seasons and spot some of the creatures that live on the reserve, including a hunt for mini-beasts.

Here are some of the creatures we found.

This is a looper caterpillar named after it's characteristic gait! We don't know exactly what it will become but we think probably a species of moth.

 This photograph, taken in the hand, is of a gorse seed weevil, it lives within the seed pod and uses it long proboscis which you can see, to feed on the seeds.

 Thank you to all our volunteers who came today and helped out, your contribution is much appreciated.

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Highway Maintenance

Thursday, October 22nd 2015

The streams here at Foxglove are used by birds as a ‘highway’ to access the reserve (they don’t sign in at the guard room) and safely get from one area to another.  Kingfishers regularly use the stream that joins the bottom of the lake to get to their favourite fishing spots.

Kingfisher

It has been a really good year for growing vegetation and this ‘highway’ had started to become overgrown. So the task for today was to start cutting back the overhanging vegetation along the stream.

The volunteers got stuck into the task with their usual gusto and cleared the long section up to the dam before lunch.

We will continue this task over the coming weeks until the whole stream is clear of overhanging vegetation. We would like to thank everyone for their help today you all worked really hard and we made excellent progress with the task.
 

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Long Live the Queen

Wednesday, October 21st 2015

Today our friendly beekeeper Alison came to check on the Bees in the visitor centre, she informed us they are doing well and have a new queen and that there are brood cells in the hive.  

The queen probably hatched about six weeks ago, approximately two weeks after emergence the new virgin queen will have taken one or several  ‘nuptial flights’ to mate with male drones from another colony and once established started laying eggs in the hive. The queen is the longest living of the bees within the colony and may survive three or four years.

We thank Alison and Alistair for their continued support and wish our queen well in keeping our colony thriving.
 

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Chopping and Lopping

Tuesday, October 20th 2015

The volunteers were out in force again today starting the woodland work that will continue throughout the autumn and winter.

We selectively coppiced the area next to the boardwalk on the way to the lake hide as it had become dense and overgrown with little light penetrating to the canopy floor.

Everyone got stuck into the task of chopping down the trees, cutting them up and dragging them to the fire.

The area has now been opened up allowing sunlight to get to the canopy floor and to the boardwalk. The volunteers got through an amazing amount of work today and have really transformed the area; we would like to thank you all for your hard work.
 

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Winter Migrants

Sunday, October 18th 2015

During the week, reports of winter migrants arrive in the Field Centre and so the nets are raised with great expectations at the weekend.  Usually not a Redwing or Fieldfare goes anywhere near the nets!  Today 10 new Redwings were ringed.  This bird lifted its wing just enough to see the red feathers below it.  Once released from the hand, it flew into the Hawthorn tree outside the kitchen window and started to feed on the berries.  

Redwing

Reed Buntings can sometimes be seen in the back garden, feeding with the finches, eating the seeds.  During the breeding season they also include invertebrates in their diet.  In autumn and winter they roost in the reed bed, just above the water, safe from predators. 

Reed Bunting

A Sparrowhawk has been hunting through the back garden over the last few weeks.  This beautiful male bird was caught this morning.  

Male Sparrowhawk

156 birds of 19 species were caught today, 82 were new birds and 74 were retraps.  Bullfinches are still abundant and another 15 new ones were ringed today.  Great Tits ringed in the nest boxes continued to make an appearance, and Coal Tits are returning having spent the summer breeding in the surrounding plantations.  There were 30 retrapped today, some being four years old - a good age for a small bird.  Other birds processed included Goldcrest, Lesser Redpoll, Song Thrush, Nuthatch and Treecreeper.

A very good day.  Thank you to everyone who helped.

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Amazing Autumn

Saturday, October 17th 2015

Children from Hipswell School have been visiting Foxglove during autumn.  It has been interesting to see how autumn has progressed during their visits.  The first groups were able to see butterflies and bees when the sun shone and the temperature rose.  A dragonfly investigated one child's coat, which she was still wearing!  Flower numbers and species have decreased but seeds and fruits have increased.  Yesterday, we thought there would be little animal life about, but we were wrong.

Various seed heads were opened to explain how seeds were dispersed.  Hawthorn fruits were of great interest when their dispersal was discussed!  And on cue a flock of Redwings flew overhead.  Gorse is always interesting as it provides home for many wintering invertebrates.  Its seeds are scattered by explosion and when a pod is opened the seeds can be easily seen.  Opening one pod was a surprise, a podful of Gorse Seed Weevils! 

Another insect seen was this lacewing larva. (Honest it is an insect - it did move when being photogrpahed!)  After feeding on its insect prey, it uses bits of them to camouflage itself.  Apparently some lacewing larva and adults can give a nasty nip!  They do have vicious looking mouth parts.

Lacewing larva

Minibeast hunters found other larvae.  After consulting reference books and the web we are still looking for IDs.  Quite often young larvae do not look like the photographs in reference material as they show much older larvae and some can change during their larval development.

Initial thoughts were that this was another lacewing species but it is not, well we don't think it is!

Larva

We thought this one to be a ground beetle larva but it does not fit the description.  Devil's Coach Horse Beetle was another suggestion but that doesn't fit either.

Beetle larva

This beautifully marked insect is still without a name!

An insect!

We will continue our research to see if we can ID these insects.

Signs of autumn are obvious.  Apples are ripening.

Ripe apples

And then there are some surprises.  Bush Vetch was showing beautiful flowers.

Bush Vetch

There are still Rowan berries in profusion about the reserve.  Usually by now Blackbirds and Song Thrushes have made inroads into them.

Rowan berries

It was a surprise to find a Rowan in flower!  It was difficult to get close to and the wind was blowing, but a photograph confirmed it was a Rowan flower.  Will it produce fruit?

Rowan flower

There is always something to see as you walk around Foxglove, from what you would expect to what you would not.

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One Man Went to Mow

Thursday, October 15th 2015

A dull start and a little drizzle did not dampen the spirit of our Thursday volunteers who got stuck into the task of mowing and raking one of our small meadow areas. The edge of the meadow was getting encroached with Willow and Silver Birch so these were felled with handsaws and overhanging Hazel and Hawthorn was pruned back to allow more light onto the meadow area.

The grass was raked up and disposed of away from the path and the brash from the trees dragged further away to a site suitable for a fire. 


The area is transformed, great job everybody, well done and thank you.
 

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Rooting in the Undergrowth

Wednesday, October 14th 2015

Brian has been out and about rooting through the undergrowth on the hunt for fungi again. He identified these spectacular Clouded Funnel down by Risedale beck.

If you would like to come join Brian and Christine to find and identify some of the fungi found at Foxglove.  We are running a Fungal Foray on the 11th of November at 10am. Places are limited so booking is essential.
 

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A Busy Day

Tuesday, October 13th 2015

This morning the volunteers got stuck into the task of clearing out a couple of our net rides that had become overgrown. We pollard the trees surrounding the net rides to a height of approximately six foot. This increases the effectiveness of the net rides as it ensures that the vegetation is at a similar height to the mist nets. It is hard work but makes a massive difference and is really appreciated by the bird ringers.

This afternoon with the help of the students from the Dales School we cleared the brash from the morning session of cutting and then continued the work of clearing invasive species from the heath.

Whilst this was going on a few of our regular volunteers were out and about around the reserve strimming the sides of the paths and mowing the lawns. We got through an amazing amount of work today and would like to thank everyone who came to help.
 

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Upcoming Events

Monday, October 12th 2015

Our second Coffee Morning of the year will be held at Richmond Town Hall on Thursday, 12th November, 2015 between 09.00h and 12.00h. There will be the usual raffle and home-bake, bric-a-brac, tombola and Foxglove stalls. If you would like to contribute anything to any of these please bring them along to the Field Centre or on the morning of the event. Otherwise you would be very welcome to come and enjoy a drink, some biscuits and a chinwag.

John Webster ARPS MPAGB will be giving a general wildlife themed Audio-Visual Presentation entitled “Light and Inspiration” at Wathgill Army Camp, Downholme on Friday, 13th November, 2015. Doors and Bar open at 7.00pm for a 7.30pm start. Admission is by £10 ticket, available from the Field Centre, which includes a Buffet Supper.

The first Winter Worky Day will be on Saturday, 7th November, 2015 where we will be heading out onto the reserve to complete a number of practical tasks. There will of course be the usual curry lunch provided. Please could you book with Matt or Lisa to help us with numbers for the food.


 

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Images of Autumn

Sunday, October 11th 2015

Each season, the moth identifiers, the flower walkers and the rooters discuss which season is their favourite.  For some it is spring with all the new growth and flowers after the winter.  Others enjoy the snow of winter.  Usually we decide that the season we are in, is our favourite!

Autumn is the season where plants and animals get ready for winter.  Preparation takes many forms, Hazel trees have small catkins and the Alder branches have buds.  Blackthorn is covered in blue berries which will probably still be on the trees next spring as they are not enjoyed by many birds.

Sloe Berries

Hawthorn berries are covering the trees and soon the Blackbirds will begin feasting on them.  A little later hopefully they will be joined by Fieldfares and Redwings.

Hawthorn berries

Meadowsweet flowers late in the summer and its white frothy heads can still be seen through the Scrapes.  Many have set seed.  If you look closely, the seeds are almost twisted around each other and if gently touched they easily break and each little 'twist' is a seed, which you can just see hanging down towards the bottom of the photograph.

Meadowsweet seed head

Conditions during autumn usually favour the growth of fungi.  Fly Agaric has shown its red top in several places around the reserve.  This one was growing on the wetland, amazingly it has not been trampled by the cattle but has been nibbled by slugs.

Fly Agaric

The number of moths in the moth trap is reducing, but as long as the weather is not very cold we will continue to put the trap out.  On Wednesday this spectacular moth, the Herald, escaped from the trap but because of the heavy rain immediately landed on the side of the building where it was caught.  Unfortunately as soon as it was released on to the leaves to have its photograph taken it flew off, so the only one we had was taken in its container.  On Saturday it was found again, not sure if it is the same moth or another, but this time it co-operated.

Herald Moth

With autumn comes mist, lower temperatures, less daylight and so lengthening shadows.

Lengthening shadows

NEWS -  The first sightings of Redwings and Fieldfares at Foxglove have been recorded today.

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A Splendid Autumn Day

Saturday, October 10th 2015

The bird ringers arrived at Foxglove this morning to patchy mist but this soon dispersed and the sun shone, highlighting the autumn colours.  Spindle leaves and fruits are red and pink.

Spindle

Ash leaves are turning yellow.

Ash

And conditions were just right again, to marvel at the engineering of spiders!

Spider web

During the day 61 new birds were ringed, including Robin, Dunnock, Bullfinch, Blackbird, Nuthatch and Goldcrest.  A special visitor arrived in the ringing room - our record breaking, geriatric Marsh Tit now well over 10 years old!.  It was first ringed on 10th July 2004 and has been caught many times between then and now.  Fantastic that this little bird has survived so long and is looking in such good condition.

Marsh Tit

Each autumn large flocks of Lesser Redpolls visit Foxglove and many remain in the area over winter.  They feed in groups and can often be seen flitting through the Larch trees.  As the nets were taken down several were brought in to be ringed..  

Lesser Redpoll

Thank you to the ringers and volunteers who worked hard to ensure that the day was successful. 

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Earth, Wind & Fire

Thursday, October 8th 2015

What a relief after the deluge of the past two days, a dry and partially sunny day.  Today we had 30 more pupils from Hipswell Primary School visit at Foxglove, this time it was years four and five.  We split them into three groups, so they each had a turn at going on an Autumn walk, Pond Dipping and Mini Beast hunting.

The Autumn themed walk, taking in Risedale Beck and part of the heathland, focused on different seeds and the many methods they use to disperse themselves, from wind, exploding pods, hooks that catch on fur, or simply being eaten then passing through the gut of animals or birds and coming out the other end somewhere else.

Pond dipping proved very successful today, with a large Water Boatman and Great Diving Beetle being found.

Meanwhile, at the other end of the reserve, our regular Thursday group of volunteers were manning a bonfire of all the brash we have amassed from the last couple of weeks.

A big thank you to everyone who helped out today.
 

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Tree Care

Tuesday, October 6th 2015

Today the volunteers worked hard to clear the overgrowing vegetation from around some of our young trees.

These trees were planted by a school group as part of the Queen's Jubilee celebrations. We clear the vegetation that is growing around the trees to give them the best chance of growing to full maturity.

Whilst clearing the vegetation we also took the chance to check the health of the trees in the tubes and we are very pleased to report that all bar one are successfully growing!

It was a tough job in wet conditions but the volunteers got stuck into it with their usual gusto and cleared the whole bank by the end of the day. We would like to thank you all for you hard work completing this valuable task.
 

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Lots of Learning

Monday, October 5th 2015

On Friday and again today we have been continuing the educational activities at Foxglove. On Friday we had Kellbank School come on a visit. We split into three groups to complete activities around the reserve. The first group went on a discovery walk around Foxglove identifying the flora and fauna that is around at this time of year.

The second group learnt about the bird ringing that takes place at Foxglove, were introduced to our bees and then headed out to complete some natural art in the woodland.

The third group stayed inside and completed a number of craft activities based on the animals that you find here at Foxglove.


Today we had some children from Hipswell Primary school come to the reserve. They split into two groups, the first group completing an arts and crafts activity workshop in the indoor classroom.

Unfortunately we weren’t blessed with good weather but the second group braved the elements for a short walk around the reserve learning about autumn.  We had enjoyable days with both schools and hope that they enjoyed their visits and will come again in the future.

We would like to thank our band of volunteers who helped us with these visits; we couldn’t do it without you.
 

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Colours of Autumn

Sunday, October 4th 2015

Foxglove is just beginning to show autumn colours.  Sycamore leaves are starting to fall along the Sycamore Avenue.

Sycamore leaf

Other deciduous trees are showing their colours amongst those that are still green.

Autumn colours

Guelder Rose berries are bright red.  They are rarely eaten by any of the birds.

Guelder Rose berries

There are apple trees around the reserve and these are now full of fruit.  Birds do eat some of the apples, but once they fall and begin to decompose a little, late flying butterflies and wasps enjoy feeding from them.  Slugs and snails also enjoy them!

Apples

We must be patient for the fruits of the Spindle tree to turn bright red and burst, showing their orange seed.

Spindle fruits

Whilst autumn is mainly about colourful leaves, fruits and seeds, flowers can still be seen.  Spear Thistle and Red Poppy are growing together.  (Over 70 flowers were recorded on the monthly flower walk.)

Spear Thistle and Red Poppy

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How Many Spiders?

Saturday, October 3rd 2015

Several days this week, driving around the corner near the heath, saw a spectacular display of dew covered webs!   The camera does not do it justice.  

Spiders webs on the heath

Most of the webs appeared empty, no doubt the spiders were resting, deep in the vegetation, after feeding during the night.  This one was walking across its web.

Spider on web

The 3D architecture of some of the webs was amazing to behold.  

A 3D web

Spider's web

It was not only the Heather that was used but Angelica and seedheads of Knapweed

web on Angelica and Hardheads

Juniper trees were also web coated.

webs on Juniper

There were different shapes and sizes of webs wherever you looked.

Spider web, dew coated

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Bat Box Survey

Thursday, October 1st 2015

Today Matt, Mike and John set off to complete our annual bat box survey. We have 53 bat boxes situated around the reserve and this is an essential job to help us monitor the health of our bat populations.  We carefully check to see if there are any bats inhabiting our boxes or if there have been signs of use since the last survey.

The survey showed encouraging results with six boxes occupied by bats at the time of the survey and many more with bat droppings in them.

We also recorded if the boxes had been used by any of Foxgloves other residents with wasps and bird nests found. We would like to thank Mike and John for their help today.

We would also like to thank everyone who sponsors one of our bat boxes through our Adopt-A-Box scheme.

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