(30) Blog Posts Made in June 2016

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Foxglove 1:0 Squirrels

Thursday, June 30th 2016

Did you miss our amphibian event last night? We found some! The rain even stopped in time for the pond dipping! Our next children’s event with pond dipping is Pond Explorers on 17th of August – get your bookings in now!

This evening we watched a puzzled squirrel try to leap on to our feeders and miss. This morning it had no problem. Little did it know that during the day our wonderful volunteers lowered the ‘squirrel baffles’ to prevent it jumping to the feeders from the pole below them. For now, it will have to be content with leftovers on the ground. But how long before it finds a new way up..?

Today volunteers have also tried squirrel-proofing our ground feeder, mowed and strimmed net rides ready for bird ringing on Saturday, helped with a stock take, pruned the Field Centre hedge, replaced a damaged net pole and the wire grip on a bridge and repaired a dam. An impressive list of achievements – thank you to all!

Meanwhile, up at Cape Wrath the photos coming our way suggest that more lovely birds, such as these ringed plover chicks are getting new bling (i.e. rings, as part of the British Trust for Ornithology’s Ringing Scheme).

Today our ringers are starting their long journey back to Foxglove. We wish them a safe journey.

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Wet Wet Wet

Wednesday, June 29th 2016

Today at Foxglove was very wet indeed. Some of the volunteers set off on a walk around the reserve to record all the flowers that were out.

Alas, it started to rain almost as soon as they had set off, and the list of flowers and its compilers got soggier and soggier. On a positive note we were able to enjoy the pretty dappled patterns of raindrops in the ponds.

It was decided that we would leave the flowers down Risedale Beck for a drier day! Here is a rather nice Marsh Thistle.

Not a flower, but some attractive leaves were found on the Field Maple today.

Last night the ringers were busy (also in rather damp conditions!) ringing Kestrel chicks. This pair had done particularly well and produced five large and noisy chicks.

As I type this, the rain has stopped, the sky has cleared and the sun has come out. Hopefully this bodes well for tomorrow being a brighter day.

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Owls, Midges and Paths

Tuesday, June 28th 2016

The Tuesday volunteers were busy at Foxglove today, clearing all of the weeds from the pathway at the back of the Lake Hide. The Water Voles were seen regularly throughout the day. With a large team we made good progress, and the volunteers battled on despite being hampered by a large number of voracious midges!

At lunchtime we were delivered a young Tawny Owl that had fallen out of a tree into the road.

The Dales School children were in and were able to get a chance to see it close up, and learn a bit about how they are adapted to catch their prey and survive.

As it didn’t appear to be damaged in any way, it was returned to where it was found, where its parents should continue to care for it.

After lunch the heavens opened and path clearance had to be halted. Some volunteers sensibly decided to call it a day. Others remained behind and weighed out some seed for selling in the field centre, and removed moss from the gutters.

We have heard from the Cape Wrath team who appear to have reached the end of their spell of fine weather, and are now being battered by rain and winds. However, they have sent more pictures through of the sunnier days. Here is the Scottish Primrose.

A Fulmar.

A very well camouflaged Oystercatcher chick.

Thanks to everyone who came to help out today. The footpaths are a vast improvement.

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Pictures from the North

Monday, June 27th 2016

Today was very quiet at Foxglove and we were able to make some progress with office work. We also spring cleaned the hides as the spiders had managed to catch vast quantities of Willow seeds in their webs, making them look like something from a Halloween display! With a bit of sweeping and cleaning they were soon looking better.

Our fellow Cape Wrath friends have been busy. The weather has been calm enough to allow them to get out to the cliffs for some seabird ringing. As you can see, they have had some sunshine.

Here is a young Razorbill.

They have also sent us pictures of a Magpie Moth, some Marsh Marigolds and some Tufted Duck ducklings.

As we haven’t heard much from them, like us, you will have to make up your own story to go with the pictures!

Back at Foxglove, the Water voles have been posing for the camera and giving our visitors some good views. Here are some of the nicer ones.

The Water Voles are now very easy to see, so do pop along and look for them if you have a spare moment.

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Cape Wrath

Sunday, June 26th 2016

Words have been few from Cape Wrath but the photographs have arrived safely.  Although the team concentrate on bird ringing they do see other wildlife.

Our Common Spotted Orchids can grow tall, this one is small.

Common Spotted Orchid

Common Frogs are also seen.

Common Frog

An amazing sighting of a Red Deer Stag in velvet.

 Red Deer Stag

As I have said words are scarce so I am not exactly sure where the following photos were taken.  Notice the rain on the windscreen!

Rain on the windscreen

The team getting ready to head out in the boats to visit some islands in the loch.

Getting ready

On the water.

On the loch

This is the station where they stay for the duration of their visit  There can be beautiful clear blue skies, but not when this was taken.

Place where the team stay

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A Celebration of Insects

Saturday, June 25th 2016

The temperature rose and the sun came out just in time to celebrate Insect Week.  There are many insects in the varied habitats at Foxglove.  Some we know, some we can ID and some need the experts. 

Honeysuckle has just come into flower and is covered by tiny insects and bees.  This bee was really having to work to pull the lower petal down so that it could reach the nectar.

Honeysuckle, bee and insects

Marsh Cinquefoil is flowering in the wetland ponds and is loved by insects too.  This photo, totally out of focus, shows two bees trying to reach the same flower.

Two bees trying to get to same flower

Thistles provide a great food source for bees and butterflies.

Bee on thistle

As spring turns to summer so the butterflies on the wing also change and the skippers are just beginning to appear.  I think this is a Large Skipper Butterfly.  The hairs on its body were catching the sun and appear to be tipped with gold.

Possibly a Large Skipper Butterfly

Brimstone Butterflies fly, up, down, fast, sideways, behind you and in front of you leaving you and the camera trailing in their wake, so when one sits still it is amazing.

Brimstone Butterfly

Eco Club children investigated insects this morning and when pond dipping found a Great Diving Beetle. 

Great Diving Beetle

Damsels - damselflies are flying and can be spotted not just near the ponds but along Risedale Beck and on the moor.

Damselfly

Name unknown, this insect has the most beautiful eyes!

Beautiful eyed insect!

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A Quiet Friday

Friday, June 24th 2016

Today was very quiet at Foxglove. During the week we are usually busy working with the volunteers, or with school groups or running some kind of event. Today however, there was none of these. With many of our regulars currently up at Cape Wrath in Scotland on their annual seabird ringing trip, it was even quieter than usual. We have heard from these colleagues up North in a few short messages. Not many details, but enough to make those of us at home slightly jealous…

Yesterday’s report: Got here ok, Warm and Sunny, Curlews ringed en route.

And today’s report: Rain, Porpoise and Otter!

Here are a couple of pictures from two years ago to give you an idea of where they are.

Back at Foxglove, Colin, one of our volunteers and Joe our work experience student got to work filling up the bird feeders. We also did a number of Friday jobs, including uninteresting but essential tasks like emptying the bins and restocking supplies. This also involves feeding our creatures in the field centre- the Tadpoles, the Bees and the ever hungry Ermine Moth Caterpillars, which although very small are constantly on the move and quite comical to watch.

We finished the day with a walk round the reserve to see what needs to be done next week. Particular thanks go to our excellent work experience student Joe who has been with us all week but leaves us today. His politeness and willingness was exceptional!

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Ponds and Flowers

Thursday, June 23rd 2016

The Thursday volunteers were in today and were bathed in the warmth and sunshine of a summer day. We managed to complete a variety of tasks. Some of our volunteers set to work taking water samples to test the water quality throughout the reserve. We have a lot of different water bodies on the reserve and at the moment they are all covered in a variety of lovely early summer flowers. The view from our Wetland Hide, which looks over our array of ponds, is particularly nice on a sunny day.

Some of the other volunteers set to work fixing the metal poles that hold up our bird ringing nets, while others fixed the Mink raft down near the entrance. This contains a small clay plate which we check weekly for evidence of mink on the reserve by seeing whether there are footprints in the clay. Mink would predate our water voles, so we are happy that so far we are Mink free.

Flowers are everywhere at present. We are pleased with the enormous amount of Yellow Rattle that is currently on the Moorland. We have planted this in recent years to keep the grass down and allow the wildflowers to grow, and its success can clearly be seen in the photo below.

The honeysuckle is just starting to come out on the reserve.

It has the advantage of having very pretty, sweet smelling flowers, but is also quite attractive in the way it winds its way up the trees.

Thank you to everyone who came to help out today.

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Escape to the North…

Wednesday, June 22nd 2016

It’s that time of year again, when we head north for the summer – up to Cape Wrath to ring seabirds. Good luck to those going with their packing, travelling and with ringing the birds up in Scotland! The data the team collect will be sent to the British Trust for Ornithology (BTO) where it will be used as part of their Ringing Scheme. This scheme aims to monitor survival rates of birds and collect information about their movements. For more information on the work of the BTO see: http://www.bto.org/

Back at Foxglove we had a lovely Summer Solstice walk on Monday night. If you’re sad to have missed it then there’s another opportunity just gone up on our events page for a guided walk around the reserve. This time we’ll be looking at flowers. Come and join us on Monday 25th July at 6pm.

This week is National Insect Week! Today we delighted a group from Incy Wincy’s nursery with mini-beast hunting and tonight families are having more creepy-crawly fun at our “Insects Galore!” event. Bring your primary school-aged children along for an invertebrate-themed Eco Club this Saturday! See our events page for more details. http://www.foxglovecovert.org.uk/events/  Thank you to Elizabeth for all her help.

In other news, the tadpoles in the Field Centre tank are getting bigger fast. We have now released our first tiny frog back to the pond. Come and see the tadpoles while you still can - we are open to the public, you don't need to book!

If your kids love tadpoles, pond dipping and crafts then you can also bring them along to our amphibian event next Wednesday 29th June at 4:30pm!

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A Busy Day at Foxglove

Tuesday, June 21st 2016

Today at Foxglove was busy. As usual on a Tuesday the volunteers arrived in good numbers. The grass and trees have been growing well over the last few weeks so there was a lot of gardening, mowing, strimming and cutting back to be done. Our work experience student Joe quickly picked up what needed to be done and got stuck in too.

By the middle of the afternoon, all of the paths were neatly mowed and everything looked very tidy.

Some of the other volunteers filled the bird feeders, painted the Field Centre where the paint had started peeling off, did some work on the wormery, cleaned the solar panels and did a butterfly survey.

Meanwhile, the Dales School, who come to us regularly, but had been away for a few weeks, enjoyed a pond dipping session.

They proved to be very adept at catching Tadpoles!

It has been a busy day today- thanks very much indeed to everyone who came to help out today.

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Schools and Kids

Monday, June 20th 2016

The dull day was brightened by the arrival of Le Cateau Primary Year 3, and the slight shower did little to crush their excitement of being at the reserve. Again the reserve team offered various activities to the children such as poetry/habitat walk, minibeast and pond-dipping.

 When the school had gone we were able to continue with the jobs of the day, in this case various office jobs and the last Great Tit nest box to be checked and the chicks ringed. Although the chick below looks rather sad this is actually the way they always look, and is one way of distinguishing the bird from something like a Blue Tit nestling. The nesting birds have had a fairly poor season with a lot of the bird nests failing due to the wet, cold, and lack of insects which would have fed the young.

Elizabeth attended the site to give an evening walk, and during her pre-walk amble spotted this doe Roe Deer with her young.

Roe Deer young are not called fawns but kids. The rut, or breeding season, occurs between mid-July to mid-August. Fights between bucks, the male Roe, can result in serious injury or death with the winner taking over the loser’s territory or attendant doe. Courtship involves chasing between the buck and doe for some time until the doe is ready to mate.

With the courtship over and the mating completed the fertilised egg is delayed from implanting on the womb lining until January. So although the gestation is 9 months the actual pregnancy is only 5 months of actual embryonic growth.

The kid in the photo was probably born in May as it only keeps the spotted coat for six weeks. There are usually 2 or 3 kids born, but these deer have a high mortality with only one that actually survives beyond the first week of life, and if two survive the weaker may be lost during their first winter.

Jade, our conservation degree work placement student, leaves us today; on behalf of all at Foxglove Covert LNR I thank her for the hard work she has carried out for us, and we hope to see her again in the not too distant future.  

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The Middle Moor

Sunday, June 19th 2016

I am sure that some of you will remember our 'Highlanders'.  I am also sure that many of you will remember the 'fun' they ensured the volunteers had, from rounding them up when they did not want to be, to herding them off the wetland, where they should not have been and trying to find them when checking that all four were still on the reserve!

Two of the 'Highlanders'

Hiding!

They were on the moor to do a job and they did it well, eating the rough grasses and breaking up the soil to allowed the flora to begin to develop on what was once very rough pasture.  The idea was to create a flower come hay meadow.  It is amazing what the middle moor looks like now.

A survey of the middle moor last week recorded over 50 species of grasses, sedges, rushes and flowers.  Lousewort is spreading from one plant to several, across a larger area in the damper parts of the meadow.  This plant is semi parasitic on other vegetation.

Lousewort

Another semi parastic flower is Eyebright, a small. low growing plant.

Eyebright

Yellow Rattle was planted as plug plants three year ago and some donated seed was also scattered across the moor and this year you can really see that it is doing its job of reducing the sward of grass, upon which it is semi parasitic.

Yellow Rattle

Wood Cranesbill grows on the reserve and was re-introduced to the moor last year where it is growing well.

Wood Cranesbill

Common Spotted Orchids are making an appearance too.

Common Spotted Orchid

As summer continues other surveys will be carried out to catch the later flowers and the list of species will no doubt grow.

First thing this morning the moor was yellow with buttercups and Yellow Rattle.

Middle moor

Today was also CES 5 and another 4am start.  The cold, damp weather has hindered the development of some chicks and the ringers have found many of them dead in the nest boxes.  Often by now the numbers of new birds ringed is increasing as the juvenile birds leave the nests, and although some did appear in the ringing room there were not as many as usual for this time of year. One surprise was the number of Siskin - sixteen adults and young were ringed. The total of birds caught today was 138 compared with the halcyon days of 2007 when it was 260.  But it is not all bad news yet because the totals for CES 5 over the 24 years the scheme has been running at Foxglove were worse than today during 13 of these years.  Kestrels though seem to have had a very poor year and after the 80 that were ringed locally last year it is likely the total this year will be below 25!  The benefits of long term studies cannot be overstated.  A map of our recent bird movements can be seen in the bird ringing section; over 56K new birds have now been ringed in and around FGC.

Many thanks to everyone who helped today, especially the cake makers, Ruth and Sophie. 

Some of the bird ringing team are heading north, later this week, for their visit to Cape Wrath and it will be interesting to see the results of seabird breeding.

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Brand New Bees!

Saturday, June 18th 2016

A lovely coincidence happened today: A group from York and District Beekeepers Association (YDBA) came for a talk about Foxglove and a walk on the same day that we saw new bees emerging from their cells in our observation hive! We expect this to continue for a few more days… There’s a video to come, or if you can't wait then come and see for yourself!

The YDBA group listened attentively to a talk about and enjoyed a walk around the reserve. Our lake hide was a particular favourite, with hopes of seeing the kingfisher which was sighted this morning!

Many thanks to Brian and Jenny for their help.

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Water Vole Delight

Friday, June 17th 2016

For us, it’s mostly been a quiet day in the office catching up with indoor things that need doing, but for Glennis, one of our long-standing volunteers, today has been exciting as she got to see one of our Water Voles!

This morning Glennis told me that in the nearly ten years she has been coming here she has only seen a Water Vole well about three times, although she has heard plenty of ‘plops’ and seen lots of evidence of them. However, she said that since the new feeding platforms she’s had a fantastic opportunity to watch and photograph these fascinating little mammals. Today she did just that and got this lovely photo!

The ringing team is still busy with buzzards, kestrels, barn owls and the last of the small boxes. There’s an opportunity to explore what this Barn Owl has been eating at the Owl Pellets for Families event on 10th August as we collected some of the pellets it had coughed up! Put the date in your diaries and get your bookings in!

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Lights. Camera. Action. Water Vole!

Thursday, June 16th 2016

Today started with yet another sighting of our lovely Water Voles! Jade, our work experience student from Askham Bryan College, got rather a nice video – do have a look at it on our Facebook page! http://www.facebook.com/FoxgloveLNR/

A lovely group came to visit us from the Mother’s Union. Roger gave them a talk about the reserve and many were surprised by how much goes on! A walk followed where they got a chance to see some of the habitats on the reserve and visit our lake hide and back at the field centre, our bees proved popular as always.

Elsewhere around the reserve our volunteers helped with a variety of jobs. They put out new water vole feeding platforms, checked the water levels in our new pond and helped repair the poles used for our mist netting. Thank you to all who helped!

Also, check out our events page - we posted new events today!
 

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Moths and a School Visit

Wednesday, June 15th 2016

The slight drizzle did not deter our Moth Group today; however the numbers in the trap have been fairly low. We had another Poplar Hawkmoth, amongst others, which was viewed by our visiting school children from Le Cateau Primary.


 

The routine for the school visit was pretty similar to the routine from Monday. Again we had the Poetry Walk


The Habitat Walk was hosted by Lesley who also explained our Field Centre bee hive.

The ever popular pond dipping,

where one of the groups had the privilege of seeing the Water Vole.


 

The children really appeared to enjoy themselves and showed a great interest in all the activities.

Other sightings today was this Sawfly, similar to Megalodontes klugii, however I still have to identify this correctly.

As you can see this is a fantastic mimic of a wasp. I will try to explain the life cycle of these insects on another blog entry.

Thank you to the entire moth group, and Lesley for her much needed help.
 

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More Water Voles

Tuesday, June 14th 2016

Again the weather held off any rain and although it was cloudy it was still fairly warm for our volunteers to work on their many tasks; strimming, clearing path edges, tidying up around the field centre, as well as setting a new Water Vole platform on the wetlands in an ideal position to view from the hide.

Sightings of the Water Voles were fairly numerous, and the success of these platforms is definitely the reason. Jade, our work experience student snapped these photos of the little chaps in two locations.

 

We had visitors in the Field Centre who were keen to learn about our Water Voles, amongst all the other things happening at the reserve. So please make sure you visit our events page on this site to find out what is going on.

Thank you to all that assisted today.
 

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Poetry and Ponds

Monday, June 13th 2016

For most of the day the rain held off, just giving the odd drizzle to keep things damp and ideal for the slugs to roam on the paths . Today was also a school visit day from Le Cateau Primary School.


We did the usual habitat walk but this time with a bias toward flowers, then the usual pond dipping


Followed by a poetry activity where we went out and observed nature and described with adjectives the various ‘life’ on the reserve.
Although the weather was not the best for butterflies we were able to examine the slugs, and other bugs that were down at the outdoor classroom.

This Spectacled Moth was rescued by Glennis in a spider web by one of the hides, you can see why it is named as it is!


 

Thank you to Jenny and Elizabeth for assisting and passing on their specialised knowledge to the children.

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Apples and Water Voles

Sunday, June 12th 2016

Although the ground stayed damp for most of the day the rain did not fall here, in fact it was a somewhat balmy with the odd glimmer of sun. This encouraged me out of the field centre to have a look at the reserve at a more leisurely pace than in the week.

Lady’s Mantle

My first visit was to the pond dipping platforms where the new Water Vole rafts were situated. They have been very successful, showing plenty of activity; no apple remained on one of platforms, and about a half left on the other, plenty of fresh droppings peppered the rafts plus reeds cut at the characteristic 45 degrees. I impaled a new apple on the empty nail and continued on my rounds.

The  board walks were literally crawling with these Wolf Spiders who carry their egg case around attached to their spinnerets. These spiders do not make a web, hunting the prey by chasing them down.

 The warm damp weather brought out a lot of bugs, such as this Long Horn Beetle (Rhagium bifasciatum)


What was out on the Scrapes and Wetland areas were the Azure Damselflies, this one below gripping the female with his claspers

Large Red Damselflies

Also this beautiful 4-Spotted Chaser

Returning via the Pond Dipping Platforms I was privileged to see this Water Vole,

It was so absorbed with consuming the apple that I was able to get close enough to take these photos.

Before it slipped away, no doubt to return to finish its meal in peace. I think this will be the first of many photos of Water Voles on these rafts in the future, and a steady supply of apples!

A downloadable fact sheet from the Mammal Society is available here-

http://www.mammal.org.uk/sites/default/files/factsheets/watervole_complete.pdf

 

 

 

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Flora Again

Saturday, June 11th 2016

Whilst Foxglove bird ringers were busy with CES last weekend, Jack was out and about on Salisbury Plain.  He sent us this report.

Warblers down here very thin on the ground and predation high. Very interesting find though with Grey Partridge sitting on 21 eggs I think, never seen any about and last one I found was as a boy.

Grey Partridge nest

Once very common, the numbers have seriously declined over the years and these birds are now on the Red List.

Close up of nest

The bird ringers have continued to check nest boxes and ring chicks during the week and good progress has been made.  They are now ready to do the Buzzards.

Despite the weather the flora continues to bloom.  The Dog Daisies are out along Dog Daisy Avenue.  There should be some on the middle moor but they have not yet been spotted.

Dog Daisy

From being rather unspectacular in the flower stage, the Cotton Grass is now in full seed.

Cotton Grass

Walking through the Scrapes the Yellow Flag Iris leaves were pointed out, growing straight and tall.  No flowers, until a splash of yellow was noted, yes a Yellow Flag Iris flower, in full bloom!  Very easily missed!

Yellow Flag Iris

Marsh Marigold has been in flower for several weeks and some have now set seed, but others are just flowering.

Marsh Marigold

Greater Spearwort is also nodding its yellow buttercup shaped head in the breeze.

Greater Spearwort.

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The (not a) Mystery of the Disappearing Apple…

Friday, June 10th 2016

Yesterday we told you that we installed two new water vole feeding platforms. By this morning half an apple had disappeared from one of them!

Our water voles seem very active today. As well as the disappearing apple we have had a number of sightings and new feeding remains. Some of the children who were pond dipping as part of today’s school visit were even lucky enough to hear their characteristic ‘plop’ into the water and a few saw a furry back disappearing…

We made a rookie mistake yesterday in saying that it looked like a lovely evening for the Beavers group as the British weather must have been listening… They still had a good time pond dipping in the rain! They were a lovely group, interested in everything around them and particularly fascinated by our honey bees in their display hive.

Don’t forget – you can come and see our bees too as we are open to the public (just remember to bring some ID to get through the garrison)! We also have honey for sale.

On another note, as always, our bird feeders around the site are filled ready for the weekend – thank you to Colin for doing this. Thanks also to Stephen, who bagged more bird seed ready for sale in our Field Centre.

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Water Voles and String

Thursday, June 9th 2016

Regular readers of this blog will surely be unsurprised to hear that today was busy! Our technical volunteers built us four water vole feeding platforms, which we’re hoping will make spotting our adorable, but elusive water voles easier – we’ll let you know when they start getting used! Please let us know if you’d like to sponsor their apples!

A group of young people also came to help us as part of their John Muir Award. They helped tidy up our heath and then installed two of the new water vole platforms.

The volunteers built our new rafts very quickly and efficiently so with time left and keen, as ever, to help with all jobs however obscure they found a large amount of string to untangle…

Now it is neatly stored and much more useful. Thank you to all who helped today!

This evening we have a Beavers group in and it looks to be a lovely evening for it!

If you’re not already, don’t forget to also follow us on Twitter @FoxgloveCovert

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Owls and more!

Wednesday, June 8th 2016

Today visitors to Foxglove enjoyed an Owl-themed session, run by Glennis. Owl pellet dissection is often seen as a kid’s activity, so it made a nice change to go back to our childhood roots for an adult-only owl pellet session. We learnt about the different owls that are found in our local area, and then everyone was given their own owl pellet to dissect.

Once we had all separated the bones from the fur, we were able to identify the creatures that the owls had been eating. From the skulls and bones found, we were able to determine that ours had eaten a selection of Voles, Shrews, Frogs and even a bird.  All of the bones below came from just one Barn Owl pellet!

Wednesdays are also Moth day and despite being wet overnight, the trap had a good range of moths this morning. Afterwards we completed a few more nest boxes on and off the reserve - this ringing of chicks is a seemingly endless task at this time of year. Linked to the theme of the day, the nicest nest box was the final nest of Tawny Owl chicks, which are quite late and have only just grown big enough to ring. In a nearby woodland, we did a Redstart nest. The chicks are unbelievably well camouflaged into their nest! It is difficult to believe that this is actually six chicks!

Thanks to Glennis for running today’s session. It was very much enjoyed!

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Volunteer Day

Tuesday, June 7th 2016

As with every Tuesday this was a volunteer day, but in this case it was truly was our ‘Volunteer Day’. Volunteers’ Week is an annual celebration of the fantastic contribution millions of volunteers make across the UK – and it’s taking place from the 1-12 June 2016. During the week the NCVO will be sharing a range of guest blogs as part of the celebrations. You can visit the blogs at blogs.ncvo.org.uk for more Volunteers' Week content.

Here are just a snap shot of the volunteers that attended the reserve today doing jobs such as assisting with ringing and checking bird boxes, strimming paths, grass cutting and tidying up around the field centre.

To finish our Volunteer Day we had a shared lunch, and a massive thanks to all who contributed.

Volunteers come in all guises, and often the Reserve Managers get to know what species are around by the keen eyes of some. In this case Elizabeth snapped this excellent photo of a 4 Spotted Chaser, one of half a dozen on the Lake.

Also caught by Elizabeth is this Butterwort .

An insectivorous plant, the bright yellow-green leaves of Common Butterwort excrete a sticky fluid which attracts unsuspecting insects. Once an insect get trapped, the leaves slowly curl around their prey and digest it. The acidic bogs, fens and damp heaths where Common Butterwort lives, do not provide enough nutrients, so it has evolved this carnivorous way of life to supplement its diet. Common Butterwort has purple flowers that appear from May to July, giving the plant its other common names of 'Bog Violet' and 'Marsh Violet'.

Thank you to the many that contribute to the reserve, without you we could not run this oasis as well as we do.
 

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A Sunny Summer Day

Monday, June 6th 2016

Today at Foxglove was glorious and sunny. A group from Northdale Horticulture came to visit to have a look at our reserve as they are hoping to create a small conservation area of their own.

Roger took them out for a guided tour around the reserve and showed them the different habitats we have and how we manage them. Afterwards they completed some conservation tasks of their own, cutting back encroaching vegetation in the Woodland and from our Heath.

We have some attractive flowers out on the reserve at present. These include Ragged Robin and Ramsons (Wild Garlic).

Something particularly nice today were the Willow seeds which, over the last couple of days, have been spreading themselves across the reserve. At times it appeared to be snowing, as the fluffy white seeds blew in the breeze across the reserve to settle gently in piles along the pathways and in the grass. In some places it almost looked like it had been snowing!

Don’t forget tomorrow is our Volunteer Lunch at the Field Centre, for anyone who helps us in any way!

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A Warm CES

Sunday, June 5th 2016

Even very early this morning it was 'snowing'.  The 'snow' could be seen floating on the surface of the ponds as the tadpoles - dare we say - were huddled together for warmth.

Tadpoles and 'snow'

Later in the morning the sun had come out and yes, it was not snow but willow seeds floating gently on the breeze.

Willow seeds

By lunch time the tadpoles had warmed up and were swimming all over the ponds and the cover of willow seeds had increased.

Tadpoles and willow seeds

By late afternoon the willow seeds were covering most of the water surface and the tadpoles could hardly be seen.  It is good that some of these seeds will not germinate!

Willow seeds

Singing birds and barking Roe Deer greeted the ringers for the first of three 4am starts.  Once all the nets were raised, a lesson was given on securing the ties that hold the poles in position.

Tying the net ropes

It was another quiet day although there were juvenile Siskin, Robin and our first Coal Tit.  A Reed Warbler was ringed and when released, returned to the Scrapes and sang loudly throughout the day.  This beautiful adult male Bullfinch was retrapped and he sat calmly as his photograph was taken, showing off his colourful plumage and very clean beak. 

Male Bullfinch

During the day the ringers shed coats and jumpers.  There was also an opportunity for the ringers to go and check more nest boxes and ring some chicks. When all the nets were down and totals checked, over 80 birds were processed of 21 species.  Ringing does not just involve ringing the birds, but includes putting up and taking down the nets, checking the bird bags at the end of the day, tea making and washing up and tidying the ringing room when everything else is cleared away.  Thank you to everyone who helped.

Out on the reserve, as stated on yesterday's blog, when the sun comes out so too do the insects.  The leaf beetles were seen on numerous plants and this one was bronze in the sunlight.

Leaf Beetle

Large Red Damselflies are the first to emerge followed by the blues.  Blue Tailed damselflies are fairly easy to recognise, but the Common Blue and Azure Blue are more difficult to identify.  This is a blue damselfly sitting in its characteristic pose, with its wings parallel to its body.

A Blue Damselfly

We wait for the Northern Marsh Orchids to appear and often walk around where they grow and do not see any sign of them, then suddenly there they are in bud and not long after in flower.

Northern Marsh Orchid

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When the Sun Comes Out

Saturday, June 4th 2016

There has not been too much sun on the east of the country over the last few days, nor has it been very warm.  When the sun does come out the temperature rises and the invertebrates make the most of it.

Gorse is bright yellow all over the reserve and the flowers are providing food for snails and slugs.  They deserve it after clambering over the spikes!  The flowers are also suitable places for carnivores to lie in wait.  You can see the jaws on this Soldier Beetle.

Soldier Beetle

Spiders can hide in the flower petals and build their webs across the stems.  This is a crab spider.  Once disturbed it scuttled away, moving just like a crab would.

Crab spider species

Another spider hiding in waiting, with its web needing repair, was a Cucumber Spider.

Cucumber spider

Gorse Seed Weevils are busy and possibly, over a large number of years may reduce the amount of Gorse that grows.  I don't think that the volunteers will be out of work cutting it back in certain areas any time soon though!

Gorse Seed Weevil

Tree Bumble Bees are being seen in increasing numbers, in the area and on the reserve, and this one was caught visiting a vetch flower.

Tree Bumble Bee

Once the sun disappears so too do the invertebrates.  Cercopis vulnerata are just starting to hatch and can be found sheltering on leaves.  The black and red colouration is a warning to predators.

Cercopis vulnerata

Hidden amongst the vegetation on a Bogbean flower was a female Orange Tip butterfly.  Sometimes you can remove a piece of grass or a leaf, but trying to remove the stigma of the flower, close to water, was not an option!

Butterfly on Bogbean

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Quiz Results and Things

Friday, June 3rd 2016

There was slightly more sun today, which is hopefully a sign of more to come over the weekend - the weather forecast looks good, so do come to Foxglove and enjoy the sunshine here! The bees have been returning with pollen baskets full and the flowers are starting to show themselves in greater numbers, hopefully more to come!

Early Purple Orchids

As always Colin filled the bird feeders in preparation for the CES on Sunday, there have been a few Siskin juveniles around the Field Centre, so the ringing on Sunday may give us some young birds to process. Thank you to Colin, below, for his help again.

Here are the quiz results-

Answers for the Colour Quiz
1. amber 2. buff 3. cherry 4. titian 5. ginger 6. peach 7. eau de nil
8. red 9. violet 10. navy 11. brown 12. ochre 13. rose 14. terracotta 15. lilac 16. magenta 17. pink 18. lavender 19. cream 20. carmine
21. gold 22. lime 23. cerise 24. tan 25. olive 26. ecru 27. burnt umber
28. silver 29. rust or wine 30. scarlet 31 royal blue 32. chocolate
33. bottle green 34. camel 35. burnt sienna 36. indigo

36 answers correct:
Sophie’s mum
Michael Fenwick
Sophie Rainer
Christine Byers
The Coopers
Adam and Stacey

The winner of the £10 voucher is Sophie's Mum.

35 correct:
Val and Ted Darwin

34 correct:
Brian Hird
Anne and Mike Bacon
Carole Davies

32 correct:
Beryl Fowler
Trish

31 correct:
L. Brunskill

30 correct
M. Simpson

Once again, we are grateful to all those who supported our quiz and appreciated you sending them in. The next one is already being compiled and will be available shortly at FGC or from volunteers. All money accrued is added to the reserve’s funds. Approximately £100 is made per issue.
Thanks also to Pat Thistlethwaite who compiles them for us.

 

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Foxglove out on the Town!

Thursday, June 2nd 2016

Today our wonderful volunteers were at Richmond Town Hall running a coffee morning. It was busy, despite the parking problems (what with the fair in town), with faces young and old enjoying the varied stalls as well as the tea, coffee, squash, biscuits and homemade goodies. We got a group photo before it all started: Thank you to all who helped!

In the meantime, back on the reserve, the season won’t wait for us! We’ve been ringing more of our young birds and send a thank you to Stuart and Stephen for their help tidying and cutting back net rides and tidying the new stone circle.

Tomorrow will no doubt be another busy day!

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Butterflies and Moths

Wednesday, June 1st 2016

It is half term this week so we ran a daytime children’s activity. Today’s choice was a Butterfly and Moth Activity Morning. As it is now June, we had hoped it would be a nice, warm sunny day with lots of butterflies and moths out on the reserve to go and look at.

Unfortunately for us, it decided to be a cold and somewhat damp day with not a butterfly in sight. So, instead we had a morning of indoor activities. In preparation for the event we had put out the moth trap overnight with the hopes of catching lots of interesting moths to show the children. We did manage to catch a few. The most interesting were the Purple Thorn and the Common Swift (below).

The children spent the morning looking at and learning about the moths caught. We were able to put them under our special microscope and project them large-scale onto the whiteboard so they could see in more detail what a moth looks like close up. The children made butterfly antennae headdresses to wear and painted butterfly models.

Afterwards, a few went out to see what they could find outside, but only a slug was spotted.

Despite the weather, the children all enjoyed themselves. Thank you to all those who came to help out with our activities today.

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