(30) Blog Posts Made in October 2016

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Fungi Art in the Autumn Sun

Monday, October 31st 2016

The incredibly mild weather was perfect for our fungi foray around the reserve today. We gathered, with the help from our experts Chris and Brian, the various fungi for the botanical art class held at the Field Centre.

Chris Meek showing the various points of identifying fungi, here a Fly Agaric.

Under the watchful and instructive eye of their tutor and local artist Karen Innes they were able to begin their master class with confidence.

Some varied and unusual fungi were found including this Candle Snuff Fungi which appears to be feeding on the sap wood of this conifer log. 

It was a beautiful day showing the equally beautiful signs of Autumn on the reserve.

The two day art course continues tomorrow. 

 

 

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A Perfect Ringing Day

Sunday, October 30th 2016

No wind, no rain and mild. Added to that an extra hour in bed for the ringers and an 8am start.  Walking around in the early morning hints of sunshine caught the yellowing reeds.

The reed  bed

The lake had its usual compliment of Mallards.  Taken at full zoom, it was not until the photo was downloaded that the Little Grebe could just be seen.

Mallard and Little Grebe on the lake

A Wren complained that I was walking close to it.

Wren

The ringing room was busy as birds were processed from each net round.  Species were varied and included Goldfinch, Goldcrest, Great Spotted Woodpecker, Siskin and Redpoll.  Several Greenfinch were ringed, which was of note, as few have been seen recently due to disease. Bullfinch, Coal Tit and Marsh Tit are returning to the reserve from the surrounding area, for the winter. One Coal Tit was over 6 yeras old.  Redwing and Brambling, the winter migrants, remain in good numbers..

Late in the afternoon a Pied Wagtail made an appearance.  It was a beautiful bird - only the second ever ringed on the reserve.

Pied Wagtail

Over 220 birds were processed by the ringers during the day.  Thanks to everyone who took part.

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Under the Boardwalk

Friday, October 28th 2016

Today was a day for getting odd jobs done. I started with going under the boardwalk to make a repair (with help from Beth who’s been with us on work experience this week). I think I missed a Wizard of Oz photo opportunity here through a lack of red wellies!

We’ve continued the rotation of benches through the workshop with another couple brought in for cleaning and oiling as well as carrying on getting our bird boxes ready for next year’s nesting season. This one was particularly in need of a clean out: It had been completely filled by a wasp nest!

The wasps no longer need their delicate nest made of chewed wood pulp, as each nest only lasts one season. Cells, in which wasp larvae were raised, are just visible here where the old nest is broken open.

Weather permitting bird ringing will be taking place this weekend on Sunday morning (30th October) – feel free to pop in to the Field Centre to have a look.

Also coming up soon is our coffee morning at Richmond Town Hall from 9am to 12 noon on Thursday 3rd November – do pop along for a few biscuits and a chat. There will be a raffle, tombola and a stall selling delicious homemade cakes! All proceeds from this fundraising event go towards the running costs of the reserve. If you would like to donate any cakes, or items for the raffle and tombola please take them to the Field Centre at Foxglove or to Richmond Town Hall on the day.

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Bird Boxes, Benches and Bracing Winds

Thursday, October 27th 2016

As with a lot of days lately there seems to be a multitude of jobs to get through in a single day. Thankfully as Reserve Managers we are not alone in these tasks and the invaluable work that the volunteers do makes our life a lot easier. Today, being a Thursday was no exception, the team ticking a lot of jobs from the list.

Jacky finished off oiling a couple of benches for John and Jonathan to put back above Risedale Beck.

Beth, our work experience, went out with Stacey to check and clean out  some of the 140 bird boxes we have on the reserve.

Jacky and the team ventured onto the moorland to rake up some grass cuttings from earlier in the week. The tractor made short easy work with the cutting, not so easy with the raking

and the carting away.

For much of the day it seemed to threaten rain, thankfully none came but the wind from the east did its best to scatter our rakings.

This Shaggy Inkcap was showing why they are called Ink caps, clearly visible is the dripping 'ink'.

Thanks to all that helped today, including Keith who did a stirling job on the wood store.

 

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A Halloween Special

Wednesday, October 26th 2016

Another diverse day which started with the emptying of the moth trap we had put out yesterday evening. Yesterday’s mild conditions seem to bring out the moths which resulted in 9 species including The Sprawler below.

And to underline the coming season the December Moth

While the team collated the information for the moth records we attended to the Halloween Event in the Field Centre activity room
There were a mixed bag of activities; four inside activities and one outside.

Pumpkins galore!


 

Paper chains and creepy spiders!

On the other tables were bats

and the obligatory witches broomstick making with Ruth and Charlie

Thank you to all the helpers, including parents and grandparents.

To change the subject slightly, Glennis took this picture of a Chaffinch (back ground) and Brambling (facing left) which clearly shows the difference in plumage.

 

 

 

 

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Miniature Marvels

Tuesday, October 25th 2016

It’s half term and with the sunny weather today too we had plenty of visitors including a friendly walking group and lots of families. Our practical Tuesday volunteers were in too, filling bird feeders and helping with habitat management, today focused on our wetland.

We were strimming vegetation that Liquorice and Fern (the Dexter cows) haven’t got to or don’t fancy and raking it up to take away.

We were also multitasking – clearing excess young birch saplings and using them to prepare a broom making kit for our Halloween event tomorrow! Thank you very much to all who helped today!

While doing this I also found this stump hidden away in the undergrowth – up close I thought it looked like a magical kingdom!

Why not come along to Foxglove and see if you can find a miniature marvel of your own?!

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Bees and Bird Boxes

Monday, October 24th 2016

We have had a busy few days. Over the weekend we had our celebration of Bees and Honey in conjunction with the Richmond and District Beekeepers Association who answered the many questions from our visitors on the keeping of bees.

They also opened everyone’s eyes to the complexities of Beekeeping, and other species such as solitary bees and bumblebees via an excellent presentation.

While all this was going on we were able to attend to the visiting children’s activities, such as making 'Bees on a Stick '.


 

As well constructing Bug Hotels with the assistance from our volunteers.

As well as writing down ' thank you's ' on our honey bee chart.

The Field Centre indoor hive was a buzz with interest, as well as the home made honey based cakes consumed that day. Thank you to all the volunteers for their much valued help.

Today was slightly different, we were making Bird Boxes with a fully booked event.

This started with a walk around the reserve with Stacey, our summer Reserve Manager. She explained which birds occupied our bird boxes and why, as well as opening empty boxes to show folk the various nest construction.

The children and accompanied adults did a grand job of putting together, with our assistance, the various bird boxes which they were able to take home.

With some very happy results, plus one bat box 4th from left (below).....

and more great boxes...

Thank you to the parents who attended with their children today and gave much assistance, as well as to Jade and Stacey.

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Views

Sunday, October 23rd 2016

The sky has been dramatic.  We could see what was coming!

Look what is coming

Dark clouds but sunshine also.

Dark clouds and sunshine

The lake at its best before the rain, calm and reflective.

The lake

By evening all change, a mixture of white fluffy clouds and much less threatening greyer ones.

White clouds and dark sky

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Changing Seasons

Saturday, October 22nd 2016

Spring sees photographs taken of new fresh green shoots and the first flowers.  Eagerly hunted are the butterflies that appear when the sun comes out.  Many a splodge is the result of the chases to catch one just right.  Summer sees us not knowing what to focus the camera on.  Thank goodness for digital photography, as many photos as you like, can be taken.  Autumn sees a change and the need to look closely at other plants and animals.

There can be as many as 20 Mallard on the lake.  They do enjoy a stretch.

Mallard having a stretch

Although not a good photo of the Mallards, the late afternoon light caught their V shaped trails.

V shaped trails

Rain soaks the reserve in autumn.  If it is the 'right' sort of rain then water droplets are formed.  The capsules of this moss, on the dry stone wall, had caught them beautifully.

The 'right' water droplets!

There are lichens growing on the large stones that line the access road.  On closer inspection these little fellows can only remind me of Disney characters!

Disney characters!

The lichen is Baeomyces rufus.

More Disney characters

No matter what time of year we always hope for some flowers and on the island at the last pond dipping platform, some Dog Daisies are still blooming.

Dog Daisies

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Prep for Bees

Friday, October 21st 2016

Today was all about the preparation for the weekend event called Bees and Honey which we are running at the Field Centre here at Foxglove Covert from 10.30 to 2.30 tomorrow, Saturday the 22nd October.

We are running this event with the idea of bringing people to the reserve to celebrate and highlight the importance of the Honey Bee both as a pollinator and a producer of honey. Charlie, who is doing his work experience at Foxglove, lent a hand in getting the necessary activities ready for the day. The events will run during the above times, with a 12 noon presentation by the Richmond and District Beekeepers’ Association.

You will also be able to view our Field Centre Honey Bees, as well as the opportunity to purchase honey based products. 
This afternoon I was also prepping bird box parts for Monday's ‘Build your own Bird Box’ event.

Then down to the moorland to trim back some rushes and rough grasses to hopefully encourage fresh growth for next year.

Yesterday evening we were able to get some mist nets up and finally do some ringing of Redwings, like the one in the photo below. There have been plenty about recently, feeding on our Hawthorn berries.

Queen Wasps settling down for the Autumn /Winter, this one was under the inspection hatch of the gas tank.

Midnight tonight is the last call for your photos for the Calendar Competition, just send them in via email with contact details and we will do the rest.

Thank you to Colin and Charlie for their much needed help today.

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Out on the wetland

Thursday, October 20th 2016

Roger started the day by visiting Wavell Junior School to help with the handover of full bags of clothes as part of their Bag2School collection and receive a cheque for Foxglove. Thank you to all who donated their old clothes and to Wavell Junior School for making us their chosen charity.

We had a visit from Northallerton Rotary Club who enjoyed a talk about Foxglove and then a guided walk around part of the reserve. Most left with the promise that they will be back - for more time to explore Foxglove further!

Today was one of our practical volunteering days - thank you to all who helped. New grip was installed by the wetland hide, benches were cleaned and oiled and strimming was continued. This was to clear space for our ringers to put up mist nets to catch the redwing feeding on our autumn berries, but the focus of today’s work was on the wetland, with the removal of encroaching scrub…

…and the strimming of rushes and other longer vegetation that Liquorice and Fern (the Dexter cows) hadn’t fancied tucking into.

A pleasant surprise for the Northallerton Rotary Club was that a water vole arrived on the wetland feeding platform for them to see from the hide even with all the activity nearby!

Plenty of common darters were out and about on the wetland too  – often stopping to rest on a gate in the sunshine…

…as well as this smooth newt (shown on the thumb of a glove).

Also out are flowers of the gorse – it never really seems to be out of flower - and as the country saying goes (of which there are many similar versions): ‘When gorse is in bloom, kissing is in season’!

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Foxglove Fungi Focus

Wednesday, October 19th 2016

A plethora of fungi across the reserve at Foxglove is a sure sign that autumn is in full swing! Today volunteer Chris Meek took a walk with her camera to identify and photograph some that are around at the moment.

Fly agaric, Amanita muscaria, is one of the most well known – often seen in illustrations of children’s fairy stories. This species is poisonous and the common name fly agaric comes from the practise of using it to stupefy flies by breaking the cap into platefuls of milk.

A number of ink caps are around at the moment – so called because of the dripping, black, inky fluid formed when the gills auto-digest.

Common inkcap, Coprinus atramentarius

Glistening inkcap, C. micaceus

A favourite of mine are the common puffballs, Lycoperdon perlatum; such a clean white when young and then producing clouds of spores at only the slightest knock when mature!

Small is beautiful in the form of this elegant candlesnuff fungus, Xylaria hypoxylon – found on dead wood.

Others are not so pretty, such as this elfin saddle, Helvella lacunose.

If you’d like to come and see some more of our fungi (accompanied by volunteers experienced in fungi identification) and then learn how to paint fungi with a professional artist book on our Botanical Painting of Fungi Event: http://www.foxglovecovert.org.uk/events/

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Sunshine then Showers

Tuesday, October 18th 2016

The day started fairly bright with the odd shower, making it hard to put on or take off the waterproofs. With the walk yesterday we were more able to focus on the jobs to be done today.

A lot of the volunteer day was spent tidying up from the weekend Winter Worky Day. It was ideal to have about 15 folk doing the various jobs that needed ticking off. The first job was to finish off carrying/carting post and rail fencing from the conifer plantation to the Bullet Catcher store.

The next job was to remove all the debris from the Vole Pond banks which had be dredged up on the Saturday. Most of the little critters that had been on the weed should of made their way back to the water.

While we were doing all this Ken and Eddie were busy strimming a new net ride for the netting of the numerous Redwings around the reserve. But, most of the day was spent on the Lake Orchard burning the last of the weekend brushwood,

 and removing the Birch and Willow in what ended up being a very wet afternoon.

 The afternoon team enjoying the warmth of the fire at the end of the day.

Insects are not so prevalent now with the dip in temperature, but the walk in the woods yesterday had plenty flying in the beams of sunlight . This Stonefly, possibly a Needle or Willow Stonefly (Leuctridae), was found inside the Field Centre, probably carried there on our clothes from working near the ponds and Willow. The name Needle Stonefly is due to it wrapping its wings tightly to its body.


 

There are 34 species of stonefly in Britain, which are common around fast-flowing streams and rivers, where the larvae spend their lives hiding amongst the gravels and feeding on algae and plants. The adults hatch out, and do not travel very far from the stream as they are poor fliers usually being found on riverside rocks and trees.

Thank you again for all the hard work, and excellent company.

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A Walk with a Purpose

Monday, October 17th 2016

With the typical Monday morning chores out of the way, and the success of the Winter Worky Day on Saturday, we were able to take a walk around the reserve to have a look and prioritise the various jobs which will form our winter work schedule.

As with all reserves the next few months are vital to get undergrowth and the vibrant summer growth of trees and shrubs under control before our cherished plants and habitats are choked out. Together with the general management of the habitats we also have site management to consider, eg. path maintenance, upkeep of equipment, and buildings, etc.

The beauty of these 'walks with a purpose' is that you get to see the various small details such as this Kestrel pellet. Clearly visible are bones of some poor unsuspecting bank vole or shrew. These are a third of the size of the Barn Owl pellets I was dissecting with a group last week, approximately 1" , or 25mm in diameter. 

Returning to the Field Centre, on the outside porch, was this Feathered Thorn Moth, a fairly common sight in the moth trap this time of year, but this one came to the external lights of the centre. 

Glennis is always a good source of photos from around the reserve, as well as informing us of what is around. This Grey Wagtail is often seen by the Lake weir.

A couple of Tree Sparrows were seen on the Field Centre feeders, sadly taken through the glass, but always a good 'spot'. These are not that common here, but Brambling and Redwing are really starting to make themselves known around the site, the latter feeding on the numerous Hawthorn berries.  

With a notepad full we will have to sit down and work out which and when to carry out the various tasks of the coming season.

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Middle of Autumn

Sunday, October 16th 2016

The forecast for yesterday was not good, rain and a lot of it, but a damp start turned into a beautiful day.  Common Darters appeared as the temperature rose, sunbathing on the edges of the boardwalk.

Common Darter

Sunshine highlighted the autumn colours.

Sunshine highlighting the autumn colours

Spindle fruits are still pink but it will not be long before their bright orange seeds appear.

Spindle fruit

Autumn is a time for fungi and the damp and warmth are encouraging them to show their fruiting bodies.  This one was found when coppicing some of the trees.

Fungi

We often find fungi with holes and assume that the slugs have been feeding.  Concentrating on the fungus, it was not until the photo was downloaded that the slug was noticed.

Fungi and slug

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Food, Friends, Fun (and some work..!)

Saturday, October 15th 2016

Today was the first of our Winter Worky Days and it’s been busy, muddy, wet for some and lots of fun!

A big task for the day was pollarding one of our net rides and an area around the nearby pond, and the subsequent rebuilding of a dead hedge. It started off this morning looking like this:

But by the end of the day sunshine was reaching through and the newly refurbished dead hedge was looking good!

Nearby, scrub clearance in our sedge warbler patch was sometimes a bigger task than it first appeared – with the discovery of large root systems under some apparently small, wispy trees!

A satisfying achievement when successfully removed!

The brash not needed for the dead hedge was burnt.

Meanwhile, over at the voley ponds a team set to work clearing excess pond weed.

There were still smiles despite a few people getting a bit wetter than they had planned for!

We wouldn’t like you to think that it was all work and no play – we also enjoyed a curry for lunch followed by some wonderful cakes! Thank you very much to everyone who helped!

Our next Winter Work Day is on Saturday 5th November. Book on our events page at: http://www.foxglovecovert.org.uk/events/

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Prep, Punctures, and Art Pictures

Friday, October 14th 2016

With the first of our Winter Worky Days tomorrow, today was spent getting the gear and tools sorted . Sadly a few puncture repairs had to be re-done plus a new one, but it was good to clear a back log and feel content that we were ready for the day. Doing preparation was not that forth coming with decent photos for the blog. The dull, overcast, with a threat of rain sort of day did not inspire me to instinctively get my camera out.

With that in mind, the lack of photos from the children’s event yesterday evening seems ideal to fill the void. Here they are examining the owl pellet contents. 


If you are interested in art, then the event on the 31st October and 1st November may be your thing. 

The course will be an opportunity to forage for fungi and identify species, then learn to draw, set up a composition and use water colour techniques to paint this exciting and fascinating subject, looking at colour, texture and form.


Cost £40 for the two day course. See the events page on the Foxglove Covert Home page, the course is the Botanical Painting of Fungi, but as you can see from the course tutors work it can also lead on to a wider skill set in botanical painting.  

 See you tomorrow if you are coming to the Worky Day!

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In and Out Jobs

Thursday, October 13th 2016

The rain held off, almost until lunch time. The team had been above Risedale Beck shifting wood from a post and rail fence we had taken down a good month ago. With the recent wet weather the wood was soaking and heavy so the carrying down to the quad bike was not easy.

It was a mixed bag of work today mainly dictated by the weather. Tony and Mike ventured down to the Wetlands to ensure the water levels were up and flowing where the water should flow, and when the rain fell they retreated to the workshop to patch various flat tyres.

Meanwhile, Jonathan and John fixed a rotted step in the Conifer Plantation, while Jennifer took a team to the heligoland trap to trim back excessive plant growth like this Gorse.

To keep Foxglove Covert running smoothly we have to rely on the mixed talents of our volunteers. Jenny below is hard at work dealing with the necessary office based tasks.

Late in the afternoon we had an event which involved a habitat walk and the dissection of owl pellets for 10 local children.
Freddie is stood explaining to his sister what a Fox eats.


 

These photos were taken today by a long time supporter of Foxglove Covert , Terry Wright. The Water Vole from the Wetland Hide,

and a festive looking Wren.

Thank you to all that helped today in fairly adverse conditions, and Happy Birthday Freddie.

 

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Blackberries with a side dish of beetle and snail…

Wednesday, October 12th 2016

Walk around Foxglove today it’s clear that autumn has now arrived. The leaves are starting to collect along the edges of our boardwalks…

And there are berries, berries and more berries including: Rowan

Holly

Privet

Hawthorn

Spindle

Blackthorn (sloes)

And still a few blackberries!

It’s therefore a great time of year to come to take autumn-themed photos for our calendar photo competition – you’ve got a week and a half to get your entries in! See our events page for details: http://www.foxglovecovert.org.uk/events/

In other news, I found this pellet today left on a fence post near our wildflower meadow. Many birds cough up food such as fur, feathers, bones and insect casings, which are difficult to digest - in more or less compact balls known as pellets. The most well known pellets are produced by owls (to find out more book a place on our Owl Pellets for Adults event!), but this one is from a corvid (a member of the ‘crow family’). The seeds of blackberries can be seen as well as wing casing from a beetle and a snail shell.

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A Hedgehog of Another Kind

Tuesday, October 11th 2016

Last night we finished checking our bat boxes with the help of members of local Bat Groups, some of our volunteers and ‘guest helpers’ Stacey (back from her holiday, not yet in the Antarctic and hoping to see some bats):

And Leanne (normally to be found working at Foxglove on a Sunday, but spending a day off from her week-job volunteering!):

We continue to admire the huge variety of fungi that are cropping up around the reserve. Today this Wood Hedgehog, Hydnum repandum, caught our eye…

It was a busy volunteer day today, the bird feeders were filled and we tackled a particularly overgrown section of the heath and added to our dead hedge.

From a distance the contrast is satisfyingly obvious:

Thank you to all who helped. I think lots of us will be heading home dog-tired tonight – especially Clemie!

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Autumn Activities and Woodland

Monday, October 10th 2016

The weekend was dominated with bird ringing on Sunday and an education event on Saturday.

I think the children enjoyed themselves.

With a busy weekend behind us we started the week with the usual office based emailing before heading out to check jobs west of Risedale Beck. This area is one of the least easy to access, as it is not recommended for wheelchairs or mobility scooters. It is also one of the areas least visited. This I feel is rather sad as the area has a mystical feel.  The constant damp air makes it ideal for fungi at this time of year.

Candle Snuff fungi

Scarlet Elf-cup

An area, mainly conifers with fringes of deciduous trees along Risedale Beck, contributes to the mosaic of habitats found across Foxglove.

We have also carried out tree planting on the perimeter areas to introduce new species to give more diversity.  Many of the deciduous trees such as Hazel, Ash and Alder are remnants from the ancient 400 year old woodland. This mix of old and young trees benefits birds, invertebrates and mammals.  Spring sees the area covered in Primroses, Bluebells, Wild Garlic and Wood Sorrel.  Autumn sees fungi flourish.

This Saturday, the 15th October, is our first Winter Worky Day. If you are coming, could you please contact the reserve as we require the numbers for the mid day meal we are providing. Also, if you have bags of clothing can you bring them to the Field Centre, as we are part of the Bags 2 School campaign, where Wavell School has nominated us as their chosen charity. Thank you.
 

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Summer and Winter Migrants

Sunday, October 9th 2016

It has been mentioned on the blog that we had had a recovery of one of the Mipits that we had ringed at the Crater.  Details of another one also arrived.  Jenny ringed a Mipit on the 26th September and 16 days later it had travelled 133km to Beeley Moor in Derbyshire where it was caught as a retrap.  The second one, ringed on the 18th September was retrapped 14 days later at Ryewater Nursery, Boys Hill in Dorset, which is 392km from the Crater!

Whilst these summer migrants are heading south so our winter migrants are already arriving, possibly helped by the north easterly and easterly air flow over the last few days.  Redwings have been recorded on the reserve and today the first one of the season was ringed.  They are feasting on the Rowan and Hawthorn berries.

Redwing

A Brambling had been seen feeding in the back garden.  This could be the earliest record of Brambling on the reserve.  We were hopeful that we may catch one, but we did much better than that and caught three!  It is very difficult not to put words into its look, but I am sure he was saying 'Don't I look beautiful?'

Male Brambling

The ringing room was busy from early morning until late afternoon. Many visitors were able to see the process of ringing and observe the birds closely.  Amongst the 240 birds processed were 52 new Chaffinches and 19 Goldfinches.  Birds that are returning to the reserve after breeding in the surrounding habitats include the Redpolls and Goldcrests.  There are still Chiffchaffs and Blackcaps on the reserve and they have some way to travel on their southerly migration.

The data in IPMR (the data handling programme for all bird data) can give us immediate feedback on when a bird was first ringed. A Chaffinch was recorded in June 2011 making it five years old, and a Great Tit was six year old, being ringed as a chick in a nest box in 2010.  Several of this year's Great Tits, ringed in the nest boxes, continue to visit the ringing room.

It was still and the lake reflected the trees and sky early this morning.

The Lake

Overnight rain had left grasses with water droplets that looked like jewels that glistened in the sunshine.

Water droplets like jewls

Through the vegetation bright red leaves of Bramble could be seen, showing us that autumn is well on its way.

Red leaves of Bramble

Thank you very much to all the bird ringing volunteers for their hard work, ringing, doing net rounds and tidying up at the end of the day.  Thanks also to Glennis for her timely arrival with sausage rolls.

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Not for the Squeamish!

Saturday, October 8th 2016

Looking for bugs at the beginning and end of the summer requires the skill of close observation of everything that looks a bit odd or different. Nine times out of ten you discover a bird dropping or a bit of leaf or a bit of mud. On the rare occasion when you find something then the fun starts. What is it? Sometimes you know and there is no problem but for those you don’t know, then the hunt begins.

Books that point you in the right direction are the first port of call. Then there is the Internet, which can be helpful, unhelpful or totally misleading. Something that looks exactly like ‘your creature’ is only found in the wilds of Central America!  So, it is back to the beginning. Of course talking amongst other insect watchers helps and then emails are sent to see if ID can be narrowed down. There are successes, disappointments and of course differences of opinion.

This insect was also photographed about this time last year but remained unidentified, until now and is Pantilius tunicatus.  Information says that it is common and widespread across southern Britain at least.  It is usually found on the lower branches of Hazel, Alder and Silver Birch.  So it is in north east Britain, was found on a bridge hand rail but at least, was near Hazel, Alder and Silver Birch. 

Insect

This is an insect, as when gently touched it did move, on legs!  Much discussion has gone into this insect but we are agreed, I think, that the camouflage is the remains of other insects, probably its prey.

An insect

Another insect that uses 'bits' from its prey items is a lacewing larva, which this may be?  The adults can often be found in the hides overwintering.  They are beautiful insects, but are voracious carnivores.  This one has either lost its coat or is just begining to collect it.

Possible lacewing larva

Once we had looked in various books the caterpillar of the Buff-tip was easily recognisable.  Unfortunately there is no chance of this one being identified!  It was tightly curled up amongst the Alder cones.

Caterpillar in Alder cones

After these fiercesome beasts we will end on something nice.  There are still some flowers around and the bees can often be found, almost hiding under the flower head and as it warms up slightly then they begin to feed.

Bee on Devil's Bit Scabious.

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Robin on Watch

Friday, October 7th 2016

Today’s been a busy day on the bird feeders, with sightings on the Field Centre garden feeders of lesser redpoll, brambling and tree sparrow! A thank you to Colin for filling the feeders again today – all of them this time, ready for bird ringing at the weekend (pop along on Sunday morning if you’d like to watch).

Regular readers of the blog will not be surprised that today we worked on the heath! The aim is to remove the trees invading this habitat, to keep our heath and its heather. In the past some trees have been cut rather than being removed completely and so have grown back multi-stemmed, with a strong root system as demonstrated here by Roger:

We had a new volunteer with us today too – Charlie, who will be coming on placement from his course at Askham Bryan. After a tool talk and demonstration of the job…

…he got stuck in to the task on one of the most overgrown areas of the heath, bordering the woodland.

Our work on the heath was under scrutiny today: We were being watched by this robin, hoping we would turn up something tasty, perhaps a worm or two… The photo shows its ring, probably put on in our ringing room.

In other news, please don’t forget to book your place for our October Worky Day – it’s only a week away (Saturday 15th October)! We need to know if you’re planning to come so we can order enough lunch! You can book through our events page: http://www.foxglovecovert.org.uk/events/

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Help, Hoppers, and Heath

Thursday, October 6th 2016

Thursday for me felt different from the start. My first job of the day was to take my little van to Hutton Magna to pick up some seed/chaff from a farm. We gain this seed from the grain grading system which would be waste but is valuable for our wild birds on the reserve. It was mainly rape seed , but the amounts were in the form of two bulging bumpy bags.

Once back at the reserve the Thursday team set about bagging up the seed into more manageable sacks for easy future hopper distribution. The seed is fairly fine and bullfinches certainly seem to enjoy it ! As we had the seed in smaller bags we decided to check and fill the 9 hopper feeders scattered around the reserve, from the Field Centre to the Lake. This is a wheel barrow job which takes a few journeys back and forth to restock at the seed shed.

While I had been away doing the carting the team were busy raking up brambles from a previous days brush cutting, then we were back on the Heath pulling , digging out all the shrubs we do not want there. As mentioned on a regular basis in the blog , it is a big job that can take weeks to complete, but is important as we would not have a heath if left without such intense management.

You can see in  the above photo, the scale of the job.... with Willow and Birch clearly visible. The below photo shows the size of roots that need to be pulled/popped, in this case a Hawthorn.

As we made our way around the fringe of the heath I found two Shield Bugs, a Forest Shield-Bug

and also this Green or Gorse Shield Bug , as yet I am unsure , so please get back to me if you know for certain .

This 7cm caterpillar was found yesterday near the Sand Martin Colony, north of the Scrapes. It has been identified as a Buff -tip Moth caterpillar, the adult comes readily to our moth trap and is a fantastic mimic of a piece of Silver Birch.

Buff Tip moth adult

Today has certainly ticked a few jobs of the list, I know I say it all the time but 'thank you' to all the volunteers for their hard work today... I think we will sleep well tonight ! 


 

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Foxglove as a Sensory Map

Wednesday, October 5th 2016

Today, as typical for a Wednesday we started the day collecting moths from our moth trap for identification as part of our species monitoring at Foxglove. The catch today was fairly large considering the cool overnight temperatures. Highlights include this Feathered Thorn;

Green Brindled Crescents of both light and dark colour morphs;

And a favourite of mine among today’s catch, this lovely Red-Green Carpet.

If you would like to help on a Wednesday morning (about 9am) with identifying and recording the moths, or would just like to come along and see these beautiful insects, you are welcome to do so.

However there was more than one thing going on at Foxglove today: Elizabeth and Ruth updated our displays for autumn (thank you) and students from the Dales School were visiting Foxglove. They were using this sensory map they had created of the reserve as part of their learning.

Roger got a bit more scrub cleared on the heath and I strimmed to encourage our orchids in one of our meadow areas.

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Getting Down to Heath Work

Tuesday, October 4th 2016

There was an autumnal coolness to the morning as I entered the reserve; at least it was bright and sunny, the heath looking grand with the heather shrouded in dew-covered spider webs.

It was the ideal setting for our Tuesday volunteers to clear some of the gorse, willow, birch and hawthorn that was trying to encroach onto the heath to turn it into shrub.

With the arrival of the Dales School we had 15 folk on the heath at one time popping trees, digging up roots or pulling brambles.

After lunch I took a small team to fill potholes, whilst another team burnt brushwood that had built up from the summer.


 

Even our small volunteer Nathan helped with sweeping up the floor in the Field Centre.

While all the above was going on John repaired bat and bird boxes in the workshop ready to put back up.

Thanks to all that helped today, and put in your diaries, if you haven’t already, the first Winter Worky Day is on Saturday 15th October.

 

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Foxglove on Tour! And more…

Monday, October 3rd 2016

Last weekend we were out and about in the local area: On Saturday we were at Northdale Horticulture for the first ever Northdale Wood Fest. This was a lovely child-friendly event about all things wood and trees!

On Sunday, we headed north, to Eppleby Village Hall for a Celebrating Rural Life event. The event was an opportunity for people to find out about their local groups and to try something new. A varied range of groups had stalls with themes including growing, cooking, crafts, sports and rural skills.

At both events our children’s ‘make a wooden owl’ activity was very popular and we met lots of interesting groups, some we have already have links with and some we are now looking to do more with!

In other news, those who have visited the Field Centre recently may already have seen the wonderful footage of our water voles having a tiff captured recently by visitor Fleur Miles. If you haven’t seen it – it’s now on our youtube account at: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BVYEyqrEcQY

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Making the Most of the Sunshine

Sunday, October 2nd 2016

It was sunny and warm and the insects were making the most of it.  By now many of the Speckled Wood butterflies are looking a little worse for wear, but they are still to be found in the sunny glades around the reserve.

Speckled Wood

And talking of butterflies, the surveys carried out by John, throughout the summer, have now been completed.  The results have been posted to the recorder for VC65.

Bees were also making the most of the sunshine.

Bee on Devil's Bit Scabious

Our hive bees had not been too busy although some were returning with pollen and doing their waggle dance.  Suddenly there were more bees outside and they appeared to be very agitated.  From a safe distance it did look as though they were attacking an intruder.  Close examination of the photos showed them to be defending their hive against a wasp.

Bees defending their hive against a wasp

It soon got the message, 'no free food in here'.

Bees defending their hive  from a wasp

Even the plants were enjoying the sunshine and making fantastic reflections on the lake.

Plant reflections on the lake

Fishermen always talk of the giant fish that got away, well photographers also talk about the brilliant photo, that for many reasons did not come out quite as expected!   Spotted through the undergrowth, right at the far side of the pond was a dragonfly.  Zoom set to full and click.  Great photo!  A pat on the back for the photographer.  Downloaded and double checked and the fantstic photo, through the vegetation was actually shadows of the grasses on a stalk.  It is even in the middle of the photo!

Fun photo - shadows on the bank side

Later I did manage to catch the dragonfly further along the bank.  She was egg laying.  

Female Southern Hawker

Our Water Voles have competition for their apples.  Wasps have found them.

Wasps on Water Vole apple

Having watched one cow on the television in the centre, and a little concerned that the other one was not around, a visit to the hide was needed.   They were soon spotted in the long grass, enjoying the warmth of the autumn sun.

Two cattle on the wetland

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Last Day at the Crater

Saturday, October 1st 2016

The bird ringing team spent the morning at the Crater.  Most of the Mipits have continued their journey south and it was the last wave that we were catching.  Mist surrounded us as the nets were opened. 

Mist surrounded us

Then a hint of sunshine.

A hint of sunshine

And finally some blue sky, but it did not last long.

Blue Sky

Just after lunch the nets were taken down and all the guys removed.  Once the birds had been processed, all the equipment was returned to the cars to be taken home, unloaded and stored safely ready for next year.

Over 80 Mipits were ringed including one adult.  The juvenile below, had built up its fat reserves ready for its journey south.

Meadow Pipit

Five Reed Buntings were also ringed.  Flying overhead were Goldfinches, Mallard, a Grey Heron, Buzzard, heard but not seen, and a Kestrel, which was being mobbed by many smaller birds.

There have been some exciting days at the Crater this year, including the day when over 500 Mipits were processed.  We think the total now stands at over 1200, but will have more details when all the data has been entered into IPMR.  Like all bird ringing, it does not just happen.  Planning, organisation and commitment are needed and a huge thank you goes to everyone who has contributed this year in one form or another.  Already we have had one recovery of a bird we ringed there and doubtless there will be more to come.  It has been a great team effort.

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