(30) Blog Posts Made in September 2017

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A Ringing Day

Saturday, September 30th 2017

The bird ringers were faced with almost an optical illusion, a vertical spider's web, that initially did not seem to be connected to anything.  On closer inspection the silken strands led to the roof of the Field Centre.

A vertical spider's web

The weather was still and calm and dry, with a blue sky and nice white fluffy clouds!

The Lake

Net rounds returned a steady supply of birds. New birds totalled 122.  Included in that total were 12 Chiffchaffs, 17 Goldcrests and 12 Bullfinches.  Not many Blue Tits have been newly ringed over the last few sessions but today 14 made their appearance in the ringing room.  Siskins have been increasing in number on the feeders in the back garden and this was reflected in 23 being ringed today.

At this time of year Redpolls begin to arrive back in the reserve and a surprise was a control, a bird ringed elsewhere.  There was also a controlled Chiffchaff which is interesting.  The total of new birds ringed on the reserve is now 60,298.

A control Redpoll

Coal Tits are another species that flock to Foxglove for the winter.  This one was in pristine plumage.

Coal Tit

Thank you to everyone who helped today.

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Fungal Finds

Friday, September 29th 2017

Sometimes things don’t always go to plan. Today it was the weather – with heavy rain this morning, for the first part of our guided walk with the Richmond Walking and Book Festival – unfortunately this doesn’t make for good blog photos. It was an international group this year, with people visiting from as far away as Spain and Australia!

However, the weather was much better last Saturday when we were visited by the North Eastern Fungus Study Group. They came to enjoy the reserve and record the fungi around at the moment. These are just a few of their finds:

They recorded things easily recognisable as fungi…

…as well as those less obvious, like this willow tar spot fungus:

Willow tar spot fungus occurs on sallow/willow leaves in rural areas and seems less tolerant of atmospheric pollution than its more well-known relative, sycamore tar spot fungus.

There was also an extra a bonus for us, with one of the members, Jill, also identifying some of the galls we have on the reserve. We’re keeping our fingers crossed for when we check our records, as last time Jill did this a few of her findings were species new to the reserve…

Thank you to the NEFSG for helping us find out more about the species we have here at Foxglove!

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Sun Shines

Thursday, September 28th 2017

Sunshine after 15mm of rain overnight was a pleasant surprise.   Water was going over the weir at the lake in a torrent.  The lovely weather, hitting a balmy 18 degrees, enabled us to re-cement the bird feeder slabs at the lake.   We reinforced the bedding cement with old chicken wire before relaying the paving slabs.

Katrina and Christine topped up the hoppers and cleared the chaff that had built up over time.

Jackie wandered the footpaths of the reserve leaf blowing the never ending fall of leaves.  Mike, having done the various water checks, linked up with Jackie to repair some boardwalks ....

....before heading off to clear a small tree that threatened to fall onto one of the paths, probably due to the heavy rain last night.

John did a great job finishing off the pointing of the slab-based feeding station ….

….and using the surplus gravel and cement to fill a few potholes in the access road.   

Thank you, as ever, to the great team who carried out  a variety of jobs today.

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Full On Day!

Wednesday, September 27th 2017

The moth trap we put out yesterday evening was fairly fruitful this morning, with beautiful delights on the wing; such as this Red-green Carpet

….Orange Sallow

….and Pink-barred Sallow, which over winters as an egg. Its larva or caterpillar feeds on the catkins of sallows and poplars before falling to the ground to pupate in the soil below the food plant. The flight season is September to October, hence in our trap today!

While the monthly flower group made their way around the reserve recording the flowers in bloom at the moment, like Perforate St. Johns Wort....

...and Fleabane.

We leaf-blowed the ever increasing leaf fall, a sure sign of autumn! We were up ladders replacing a worn out bat box,

and finishing the strimming and raking of the Early Purple Orchid patch down by the entrance gate. A pretty full on day!

Thank you to the volunteers who gave their time today.

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A Lovely Lunch

Tuesday, September 26th 2017

Today work continued around the reserve with the help of the Tuesday volunteer team: Among other tasks there were filling of bird feeders, clearing up brash at the bullet catcher, strimming

and raking of some of the smaller meadows (helped by a group from the Dales School), 

repairs to a boardwalk and mesh replaced on a bridge.

However this lunchtime some of our volunteers from other days of the week joined us (and Stacey popped in too, as a chance to see as many of the team as possible before she heads south for the winter!). They came for a wonderful lunch kindly prepared by Ann Hall. Desserts were done on a bring-and-share basis and as always at this sort of do there was lots of food to go around! A big thank you from us to all of our volunteers!

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Rangers and Rain

Monday, September 25th 2017

It was a wet start which made the various checks that we do a little damp. The previous day we had a small group of Dales Young Rangers and the weather was perfect outdoor work weather.

This group were to help us with a few tasks like raking up the Wetland Orchard,

then a brief presentation before heading out for a guided walk. Thank you to them for all their hard work. 

Today was slightly different with plenty of office work to do as well as raking up some more grass,

…. and repairing one of the pond dams that was leaking.

I noticed this lousewort, which threw me as I thought it flowered earlier on the rather wet flower meadow, so it may be Marsh Lousewort. This Lousewort grows in the damp acid soils of heaths, bogs and moors. It is semi-parasitic on the roots of other plants that grow in close proximity to it.

....but generally even in the wet weather the wetland looks beautiful.


 

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Glimpses of Autumn

Sunday, September 24th 2017

Autumn is coming to Foxglove and slowly the trees are changing colour.  Walking around, suddenly the bright reds and yellows stand out against the green.

Autumn colours

Sometimes the colours are intense.

Autumn colours

There are still insects making the most of the, still warm sunshine.  Common Darters have found the new fence on the heath.  Ideal to stretch those wings for the sun to give warmth.  Many invertebrates enjoy the wooden rails and a debate took place that the wood may warm up more quickly than the surrounding vegetation.  

Common Darter

Another beautiful bug was also spotted on the new fence, a Red-Legged Shieldbug  or Forest Shieldbug, Pentatoma rufipes. It  is distinguishable from other similar shield bugs by shoulders which are square cut and  rounded at the front like American footballers!

Forest Shield bug

This is the time of year when caterpillars have to be rescued as they often walk across the exposed paths. This one was placed on some leaves.  It immediatley turned to hide under the leaf showing off its white prolegs.  Caterpillars, even with many colours and spots and lines are not always easy to ID.  We thought this might be a Muslin Moth caterpillar but on re-looking at the photographs in the books we are not sure.

Caterpillar

Flowers are still in bloom.  Grass of Parnassus has done particularly well this year.

Grass of Parnassus

Hemp Agrimony has fed countless numbers of Red Admiral and Peacock butterflies and it is now setting seed.

Hemp Agrimony

Another flower setting seed is Angelica.  This often provides a home for ladybirds, snails and spiders.

Angelica seed head

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Weather With A Capital W!

Saturday, September 23rd 2017

The Weather has played an important part in species recording this year.  The flower walkers are a pretty tough group and go out in most weathers but even they had to postpone one walk due to heavy rain.  Trying to complete CES was exceedingly difficult due to wind and rain, but by careful weather watching we managed not to miss a single day, although we did have some interesting times.

Meadow Pipts fly south and arrive at the Crater between mid August until the begining of October and we head there when it is still and dry, which is not too often.  No wind forecast until later.  Beautiful sunrise.

Sunrise at the Crater

Even looking west -ish the mist did not look too bad.

Looking west-ish

However we should not have been lulled into a sense of false security as all the ringers had driven through mist on their journeys.  Within minutes of putting the nets in the mist arrived.

Arriving mist

It did not go away!  The bird ringers appeared out of the mist.

Bird ringers appearing out of the mist

Quite often on a misty day many birds can be caught, but not today.  There were not even many flying around, which left us wondering if they had all moved south.  Some species have migrated early.

Although misty it was the right sort of mist!  It coated spider webs with tiny droplets of water and this one was fantastic.  Each piece of silk leading away and off the photo was anchoring the web in many different directions.  Little chance of it breaking away.  No sight of the spider.

Spider's web

Thank you to everyone who helped this morning.

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The Day of Photo Judging

Friday, September 22nd 2017

Today was judging day for our calendar photo competition. Thank you to all who entered – you didn’t make it easy for our judge to decide! This year’s judge was Brigadier (Retd) Mark Conroy. He was the first chairman at Foxglove Covert and is also an artist – an appropriate choice, we thought, to find someone who has been involved with Foxglove for so long, on this, the 25th year of our reserve!

We have contacted all who have had photos selected for the calendar by email. Here’s a sneaky peek at next year’s calendar photos:

We plan to put all entries on a display in the Field Centre in the next few weeks so they can ALL be enjoyed. In the meantime the preparation and printing of the calendar is starting, so watch this space!

Today we also hosted a visit from Beverley School who learnt about what’s happening at this time of year with a guided walk around the reserve and also discovered some of our mini-beasts.

Practical tasks around the reserve continued as ever, including filling of the main bird feeders by Colin – thank you –

and continuing work on cutting the smaller meadows.

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Mend and Make Good

Thursday, September 21st 2017

Today was a bitty day where we were able to clear a few jobs and start a few others which will set the direction going into autumn and winter. We started with checking the mink rafts, which thankfully showed no signs, and ensuring the wasps were no longer present at the Lake hide. We put the replacement parts on a couple of strimmers….

 ….Peter was cutting net rides and at the end of the day we tested the brushcutters we had put spares on.

Glennis had found this Bronze Shield Bug in its final instar. There is one generation per year; the nymphs feed on plants as well as the larvae of other insects, particularly caterpillars. Early instars may appear similar to those of the Blue Bug. New adults may be found from July onwards.

Mike and Tony did the usual water checks and we spoke late afternoon of a strategy regarding some areas where we have on going dam problems. Mike went and helped clear some brash while Tony completed the bi-annual water checks for nitrates and phosphate.

Christine helped sort the calendar competition photos which will be judged tomorrow.

Thank you to all who helped today. Another fun and productive day.

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A Bat-Filled Day

Wednesday, September 20th 2017

It’s rare to have a day at Foxglove where nothing happens and wildlife is not seen, and today was no exception! The day started with two happenings: The regular team of moth recording volunteers were identifying the moths caught overnight in the moth trap and licensed members of local bat groups, Bernadette and Barry, joined us to help with the annual monitoring of our bat boxes!

This year Bernadette and Barry kindly agreed to allow a small group of members of the public to come along for the morning.

It was rather an exciting event, with nine bats seen, and a chance to see bats in the hand. They included this female common pipistrelle, Pipistrellus pipistrellus. Bats are a lot smaller than some of the group had expected!

We also identified the bat that had been spotted in the Lake Hide in the past few days. It was a young male soprano pipistrelle – born this year. He was confirmed as a soprano pipistrelle, P. pygmaeus, by his wing venation. 

Common (P. pipistrellus) and soprano pipistrelles were only identified as being separate species in the 1990s, with the easiest way to tell them apart being through their echolocation calls; the common pipistrelle typically having a peak echolocation frequency of around 45kHz and the soprano pipistrelle at around 55kHz.

Elsewhere, cutting and raking up of some of our smaller meadows continued…

In the afternoon, the bat box checking carried on with the continued help of some of our volunteers – thanks especially to John – and we saw another bat! With the help of Bernadette and her endoscope we also investigated the possibility of bats in some likely-looking tree holes…

Meanwhile we also hosted a visit from the Yorkshire Countrywoman’s Association, giving a talk about the reserve and a short guided walk.

An unexpected bonus at the end of the day was them also having a chance to see inside a young stinkhorn fungi brought in by one of our fungi recording team. A strange looking thing!

Thank you very much to all who the volunteers who helped us today and particularly to Bernadette and Barry.

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A Multitude of Tasks

Tuesday, September 19th 2017

The day started before 9am with us doing checks for footprints on the mink rafts and on the activity levels of the wasp nest at the Lake Hide.

Jade was checking the Water Vole platforms and helping us out by feeding the ducks in the area below the duck feeding platform.

It was not long before the Tuesday volunteers joined us in the multitude of tasks for the day. These started with the tyre repair to the small trailer and then some punctures on what are now some spare inner tubes. Thankfully Jennifer had got all the things we needed for these repairs last week which meant all went smoothly ….

In the Field Centre Colin was helping with computer work in the office, including starting to get some of the bird ringing returns on to a map in preparation for going on our website....

….and Bob was measuring out bird seed for the sale to the public.

The team were excellent at clearing the brash from the heath; the spoils from the heath fencing.

With Dales School assisting later on in the morning.

The chaps from Len Porter were busy on the heath, continuing to fence the area with post and rail. They finally finished the whole of this fairly large job at the back end of the afternoon!

Peter tidied up the debris from the brash clearance on the track, while we readied ourselves for the evening of various bug/insect activities with the 1st Brompton on Swale Beavers.

This proved to be an enjoyable experience for us all and included; making bug hotels, sweep netting and looking at creepy crawlies under the logs at the outdoor classroom, 

an explanation of and look at of the workings of the wormery,

finishing off with the setting up of the moth trap ....

....before saying good night!

Thank you to all the volunteers who were fantastic, as always, carrying out a multitude of tasks. 

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Up and Running

Monday, September 18th 2017

It was good to be back at the reserve having been away for a few days. It was obvious that it had been a very busy time in my absence, and the fencing on the heath is well on the way to being finished.

I hit the ground running as we had Carnagill Primary School in for the day. This would be one of the last pond dipping sessions as the water is noticeably colder and a lot of the inverts will be descending to the warmth of the mud. The bugs were scarce but we still had the ground beetles, woodlice, slugs and even the odd newt to look at by the ever questioning and enthusiastic children.

We were able to show the extent of buglife near the flower meadow with spiders and harvestmen, plus the various craneflies and other diptera present. I am always amazed at how much life there is in just a square metre of grassland.

From the smiles of the attentive children who joined us today I think we all had a great time getting up close to the flora and fauna that can still be seen at this time of the year.

One of the reasons I have not been around for the last week or so, is because four of the ringing group went to spend time at a ringing station in Norway, near Tromso. It was good to experience new species such as the Tengmalms Owl….

....Yellow-browed Warblers

....as well as Three-toed Woodpeckers, Arctic Redpolls and other species we only get a glimpse of during our winter period.

Thank you to our fantastic hosts Karl-Birger Strann and Vigdis Frivoll who not only kept us well fed, but also well trained in various aspects of ringing techniques and bird ageing etc.  The use of elevator nets in Northern Norway (above), well within the Arctic Circle, is quite routine.

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Fur and Feathers

Sunday, September 17th 2017

I have just realised that my blogs often fall into two categories plants and animals.  Yesterday it was plants today animals.

On Wednesday, although we did not get many moths as it was quite a cool night with some wind and rain, we did get some quality ones.  It was too windy to place them on leaves but they did sit still on our sheltered log.  When this close up of a Hedge Rustic was examined you can see that it appears  to have a nice furry coat around its head.

Close up of Hedge Rustic face

Our bat boxes will be checked on Wednesday but this tiny Pipistrelle was quite happy hanging around in the hide.  They do eat a great many insects.

Pipistrelle bat

People have reported that they had seen the Water Voles.  I hadn't and was a little disappointed.  Walking along quite noisily with my pup in front, I saw that the apple was a bit bigger than it should be, so we stopped rather abruptly, and the camera started to click.  I am sure it knew it was being watched.  You can see its claws on the front paws.  Its little nose and whiskers are clear.

Water Vole

It then turned round a little to see me all the better and you can see the typical sharp yellow teeth that it uses so well to demolish the apples.

Water Vole

CES is finished and we are back to having a little more of a lie in.  It was a small group of ringers this morning so not too many nets up.  161 birds were processed, including a Willow Tit, a very rare visitor to the ringing room.

Willow Tit

Some Great Tits, ringed in the nest boxes this spring, continue to thrive.  Goldcrests appear to have had a good breeding season and are back in our conifers for the winter.  Several were newly ringed.   Although Chiffchaffs have been heard around the reserve only two were caught.   The amazing beak of this Treecreeper, used to hunt for insects and larvae in tree bark is in contrast to that of the seed eating Willow Tit above.

Treecreeper

Thank you to everyone who helped today.

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A Lovely Day

Saturday, September 16th 2017

Apart from a couple of showers late in the afternoon it was a lovely, slightly blustery, day at Foxglove.  There were many visitors who enjoyed walking around and visiting the Field Centre.  One young boy had come in to gather information and photos to help with his homework on trees and forests.  A little girl was looking to identify some trees, flowers and birds to help towards a nature badge for Brownies.  Both went away with some activity sheets, photos and leaves to help them.

Walking around doing the weekend jobs takes a planned route to include the mink rafts, hides and water inlets.  It also gives opportunities to see what is around.  Common Darters and Speckled Woods sunbathed and flitted from sunny spot to sunny spot.  A Southern Hawker checked us out at the pond dipping platform - no chance of a photo!  Standing out today were the autumn colours and fruits.

Down by the bullet catcher pond, the Norway Maple (I hope I have the correct ID) was changing to lovely reds and yellows and the seeds were standing out.  These will soon 'helicopter' to the ground.

Norway Maple

Elderberries are shiny black.

Elderberries

Our tree ID is coming along slowly but surely.  We will have to look at the twigs and buds over winter.  Thankfully the trees don't move!  We have identified Buckthorn, Alder Buckthorn and Wayfaring Tree.  All we had to find was the Whitebeam, which we did today!  It was noticeable that the fruits had already been eaten.

Whitebbeam

Hawthorn berries are making a beautiful show on the trees, bright red and glossy.  I suspect that they are not quite ripe yet as no birds have been noticed in the trees.  Our Blackbirds and Song Thrushes along with migrant Blackbirds, Fieldfares and Redwings will soon clear the trees later in the autumn.

Hawthorn berries

Walking through the Scrapes we spotted the slight opening of a Yellow Flag Iris seed pod.  I remember trying to open one of these pods to show the seeds to some children and thinking I should have brought a carving knife and board to open it.  The pod is extremely tough.

Yellow Flag Iris seed pod

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Another Busy Day

Friday, September 15th 2017

The team from Len Porter continued their installation of our new fences on the main area of heath today.

After continued preparations of the new fence lines on the small heath yesterday by our Thursday volunteer team there was lots to be tidied up. Some of the piles are now cleared, but we’ll have to finish next week!

Elsewhere on the reserve the Swaledale sheep that arrived last weekend seem to be settling in well and grazing contentedly at Plover’s Pool.

Meanwhile Fern, Florence and Dolly the Dexter cows, on loan from Big Sheep Little Cow, are continuing their job of grazing the wetland.

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Learning New Things

Thursday, September 14th 2017

With two of the reserve manager team away on the bird ringing trip to Norway, it was thanks to the generous help of some of our experienced volunteers that we were able to lead a visit from Carnagill Primary School today. Finds from the pond dipping included stickleback and great diving beetles and mini-beast hunting was popular as ever. One of the groups discovered first hand that ground beetles will eat earthworms!

Highlights of the habitat walk included discovering puffballs, learning that cricket bats are made of willow (a fact quoted back to us at the end of the visit!) and how burdock disperses its seeds and, for one group, a sighting of a mouse!

Thank you Lesley, Christine, Tony and Ruth for helping with the school visit and John, Mike, Jackie, Jenny, Angela, Quintin and Theo for their hard work continuing along the new fence lines of the heath - and more.

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Varied Volunteering

Wednesday, September 13th 2017

There was heavy rain last night – 17mm according to our rain gauge – and it showed in the water flows on the reserve. The Cascading Ponds were bubbling over the dams,

…and the weir at the lake was overflowing all the way along.

Fortunately we had anticipated the weather and I had put the moth trap out on the more sheltered side of the Field Centre. There were some moths to be found ready for identification by the moth recording team this morning, but they weren’t the most prolific group today: Elizabeth exclaimed as she emptied the trap that she’d never seen so many caddis flies!

Finds today included a number of autumnal rustics and an angle shades; a favourite of some members of the moth team. However, as well as identifying the moths caught today they agreed to have a look at photo I took of one I spotted earlier in the week near the heath...there was some debate as to whether it’s a pink-barred sallow or a sallow!

Sometimes a range of skills and a willingness to help can lead to a varied day of volunteering: Chris came in today primarily to help with the moth identification, but expanded into identifying dragonflies and fungi – including this small but striking yellow club fungus.

She also kindly agreed to help me with the ladder while I tackled the high wasp activity at the lake hide. Thankfully not an everyday task - thank you Chris!

Thanks also to the rest of the moth team and to Ruth and Elizabeth for updating some of our classroom displays.

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Preparing for New Fence Lines

Tuesday, September 12th 2017

Wow, what a day! With a big team of Tuesday practical volunteers in we got loads done! Feeders were filled, habitat boxes got ready, some technical jobs done and repairs made to worn mesh on some of the boardwalks.

However the main task of the day was continuing with work on the heath: Encroaching trees were removed along where the new fence lines will be going...

…and overhanging trees pruned back.

In the meantime the team from Len Porter continued their installation…

…for a short time watched by some of the volunteers who were interested to see how the tracked vehicle and post driver worked!

Huge thanks to all who came and helped today. We have got an enormous amount done and it would not have been possible without you.

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Fencing Starts

Monday, September 11th 2017

Today was the day when the fencing started to go in on the heath, installed by a cheery team from Len Porter: The new fence line was marked out with small posts and then uprights were put into place. They were knocked in using a post driver on their tracked vehicle. This is a handy piece of equipment for minimising damage to our heath, as I’m told the pressure put on the ground by the tracks is less than that of a human foot!

Finishing touches were done to the posts by hand to ensure they were even and by the end of the day parts of the fence had all four rails.

There’ll be more fence to come tomorrow…!

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Watch Where You Put Your Feet

Sunday, September 10th 2017

I was unsure of what I would write on the blog today.  As usual as I was out and around on the reserve I took photographs.  Some were deleted once on screen, as the wind played a part of moving things around!  However I was pleasantly surprised at the number of bugs I managed to catch, so problem of blog sorted, except the title is missing as I write this.

First thing I rescued a caterpillar that was walking across the footpath to the Field Centre.  It curled up, a defensive ploy, so ID could be difficult.  I placed it on the log pile so that it would have plenty of places to hide. 

Rescued caterpillar

At this time of year many caterpillars are hunting for places to pupate overwinter and can be found walking on paths and boardwalks.  Nathan found this one, which although colourful, we have as yet not been able to ID.  Late news - caterpillar has been ID'd as a Knot Grass moth caterpillar. 

Caterpillar

Other insects like to use the boardwalks for sunbathing as the wood soon warms up.  This grasshopper sat amazingly still while I took several photos of it.

Grasshopper

Once the sun came out, the temperature rose, the Common Darters were doing 'circuits and bumps' along many of the boardwalks, paths and bridge rails.

Male Common Darter

Ideally we like to take photographs with a more suitable background, like vegetation.  Unfortunately it sometimes makes the insect difficult to see. 

Common Darter on vegetation

Although windy the bees were still foraging.  Hanging onto the stem of Devil's Bit Scabious to get the photo in focus, this bee (probably a Tree Bumble Bee) gave me a warning by waving its legs at me.

Bee foraging

Foxglove is well know for its mixture of habitats.  Some of these are quite small.  I am not sure if a Honeysuckle flower can be considered a habitat.  Early this morning I noticed a hoverfly feeding on the pollen from stamens of Honeysuckle.  You can actually see the pollen grains on the stamens.

Hoverfly on Honeysuckle

An afternoon stroll saw -  I am going to claim - the same hoverfly on the same Honeysuckle flower.  When the photo was enlarged it became quite clear that there was very little pollen left on the stamens.

Hoverfly on Honeysuckle

Now for a suitable title - Bugs, or Insects Galore, or When the Sun Came Out, or Keep your Eyes Open or yes, Watch Where You Put Your Feet.

On a totally different note another team of bird ringers from Foxglove has headed to Norway today.  There are no communications so we will await their return to see which birds they have been able to ring.

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Clouds at the Crater

Saturday, September 9th 2017

At Foxglove, all the nets are hanging neatly in the net room.  The net poles are in their correct position in the well kept net rides.  Tape lures are charged and waiting.  When ringing at the Crater everything has to be carried there in cars.  Once there, unpacked and set up.

Poles are erected and the tape lures prepared.

Setting up the nets

At the end of the day everything has to be dismantled and returned to the correct place in the cars.

Taking down nets

There was no sunrise this morning, only clouds and lots of them! 

Clouds

Taking this photo of clouds I did not realise that there were Mipits flying around, not dirty specs on the camera lens!

Mipits and clouds

As usual the Meadow Pipits caught were juveniles.  Some were beginning to build up fat for their long journey south.  There was a surprise, a retrap bird, one of 'ours' and it was an adult ringed as a juvenile last year.  

An adult Meadow Pipit

And another surprise was a juvenile Snipe.  Mark's photo shows the beautiful markings on this bird.

Juvenile Snipe

Whilst packing up more cloud! It was a decent day, nearly 200 Mipits caught, but significantly disrupted by the now 'predictable' weather!

More cloud!

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Upcoming Events

Friday, September 8th 2017

Today was a finishing-off day. We got a lot of useful but not very exciting things done, such as mowing the lawn, filling the bird feeders and catching up on data and office tasks. None of this was worthy of a photograph so instead here are some of the events worth coming along to in the near future:

On Wednesday 20th September we will be checking our bat boxes with licensed members of local bat groups. This year we are offering an opportunity to come along. This is currently only open to members of our adopt-a-box scheme, but any remaining spaces will be opened to anyone interested from next Wednesday onwards. Come along for a chance to see what is in our bat boxes, and hopefully see live bats in the hand! Have a look at details of last year's check to see what we found then here

On Friday 24th November John Webster, nature and wildlife photographer, will be presenting an audio visual slideshow of a range of beautiful places around the world at Wathgill Camp. This event includes a hot supper. This was a brilliant event last year and should not be missed! 

Going further ahead, we have children’s half term activities coming up in October, including Halloween fun and Owl Pellet dissection. Closer to Christmas don't miss out on our Festive Willow Wreaths! To book on any of these events or to see more please visit our event pages.

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Evidence of Meals

Thursday, September 7th 2017

Today our Thursday volunteer team tackled tasks including regular water monitoring, some tidying up on our meadow and repairs to dams. However the main task was continuation of clearing overhanging branches and pioneering saplings along where the new fence lines will be on our heath. The weather was grey, cool and with patches of drizzle and rain – unfortunately not really conducive to taking lovely photographs!

In other news, we spotted evidence of our bank or field vole population in the form of numerous piles of feeding remains among long vegetation.

Thank you to all who came and helped today.

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Autumn

Wednesday, September 6th 2017

Today Elizabeth led an autumn themed guided walk around the reserve as part of the Flowers of the Dales Festival.

The weather was kind and autumn was showing itself in a variety of forms around the reserve. This shaggy ink cap was growing along the main entrance track. Edible in its early stages, this soon opens up and starts to decay, becoming much less appealing as it drips a black ink-like substance onto the ground.

Autumn colours of leaves and berries are abundant. These take on a variety of colours and shapes. These elderberries are just ripe.

The apples on the trees are also nearly ripe but haven’t yet started to fall. They will provide food for our birds and be put on feeding platforms for our water voles. 

The berries of the guelder rose are also nearly ripe. These berries are so shiny that they look almost plastic, but they are a popular food source for our wild birds.

Guelder rose berries are very bitter and mildly toxic if eaten raw but can apparently be made into a tasty jelly.

Thanks to Elizabeth for a very enjoyable walk around the reserve today.

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On the Heath

Tuesday, September 5th 2017

If you look back through the blog entries over the years at Foxglove, one of the most frequent tasks done by the volunteers is removing encroaching vegetation from our heath. As we repeatedly explain, saplings such as birch, willow and gorse overshadow the heather and over time the heath would be replaced by woodland. Today’s task appeared to be the same as usual; however, the volunteers set to work with more of a purpose and the optimism that our days of working on the heath might be nearly over. The reason for this is that the heath is going to be fenced to allow us to graze Exmoor ponies. They will hopefully keep down the other vegetation, giving the heather a chance to spread.

It was largely the perimeter of the heath that got attention today, to make space for the fencing contractors to work, along with a patch of larger saplings.

Most of the day was wet but our volunteers came dressed for the occasion and worked on regardless.

Those who stayed until the end of the day were treated to some glorious sunshine. A female Pheasant came out to feed once the rain had stopped. 

Thanks to everyone who helped out today- we got a lot done.

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Send in Your Photos!

Monday, September 4th 2017

There’s less than two weeks to go until our photo competition to find amazing pictures for the 2018 Foxglove Covert Calendar closes. There’s still time to come in and take some photos or to search through those lovely ones you took on a previous visit. To inspire you, among the details for how to enter are some of those selected last year (for our 2017 calendar).

Is there anyone around? by Elizabeth Dickinson:

- Photos should be taken at Foxglove Covert LNR or on the surrounding moorland.
- Photos should illustrate the season and/or show some wildlife.
- We will choose 12 landscape format photographs to be used in the calendar and a portrait format photo for the front cover.
- Prizes for Best Adult photo and Best Child photo (16 years and under).

Fairy Grotto by Lesley Durkin:

How to enter:

Submit your photos as prints (minimum 6” x 4”) in an envelope marked “Calendar Competition” to the Foxglove Office (in the Field Centre), by post to Foxglove Covert LNR, Wathgill Camp, Downholme, Richmond, North Yorkshire, DL11 6AH or email to foxglovelnr@btinternet.com with a file size of between 1MB and 4MB and the subject line ‘Calendar Competition’ by midnight on FRIDAY 15TH SEPTEMBER 2017.

The competition is open to everyone. Please include a title and location for your photo(s), your name, contact details including a phone number and your age if 16 years or under. You can enter as many photos as you like as long as you are happy for your photo(s) to be used in the Foxglove Covert LNR Calendar and any associated publicity. All photographers will be credited. For full terms and conditions email us at foxglovelnr@btinternet.com.

Wall Brown Pair by John Smith:

We look forward to receiving your photos soon!

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Summer and Autumn

Sunday, September 3rd 2017

Officially autumn, this time of year always shows a mix of late sumer flowers, fruits and seeds.

Some of the smaller willow herbs are dispersing their seeds.  It almost looks like they are being unzipped!

Dispersing willow herb seeds

Elderberries are ripening.

Ripening Elder berries

Hawthorn and Rowan have had a good year and are covered in red fruits.  Blackbirds have been seen in the Rowan trees near the bottom pond dipping platform.

Grass of Parnassus is in flower and also developing seed heads.

Grass of Parnassus flower and seed head

Devil's Bit Scabious grows in many different habitats across the reserve and is providing plenty of food for butterflies and bees.

Devil's Bit Scabious

Pink spikes of Purple Loosestrife stand out through the other vegetation in the Scrapes.

Purple Loosestrife

Then something a little out of place, a spring flower growing slightly hidden away, a Dog Violet.   I must admit that we usually do find one violet in flower somewhere on the reserve at this time of year.

Dog Violet

Many flowers provide a much needed source of food  at this time of year, but they also provide the framework for nest building.  A spider has tied plantain heads together and spun her dome shaped web to form a nest  for her egg sac.  I wondered at the strength needed by the spider and her silk to pull these into place.

Spider's nest

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The Right Weather

Saturday, September 2nd 2017

For once the weather and the weather forecast agreed and it was ideal for mist netting at the Crater.  One of the pleasures of being 'on top of the world' is watching the sunrise. A golden globe rose over Teesside and the mist filled valley.

Sunrise

Nets were raised and the breeze increased a little, but the Mipits came to investigate.  This one, just checking out the net at close hand.

Checking the net

The fence is also a good place to have a careful look around.

Looking around

Some were flying over and John caught this one in flight, with the sun just catching its back - a beautiful photo - thank you.

Flying Meadow Pipit

Warm sun but a cool breeze ensured that layers were needed until mid morning.  Net rounds were carried out regularly. 

Returning from a net round

Over a 100 Mipits were caught.  Thank you to everyone who helped today.

This Gorse bush, on the training area, was home to several spiders of different types, harvestmen, and a small toad, heading for shelter under the bush.

And finally - a spider magically hanging in mid air, breakfast handily placed!  If you look closely you can just see small amounts of the web stretched between the Gorse stems.

Spider

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Exciting Finds

Friday, September 1st 2017

Today saw the last of our summer holiday family activities with a pond dipping session.

Exciting finds of the day included a large diving beetle larva, a water measurer and a water scorpion! The water scorpion looks pretty intimidating with its powerful grasping forelegs: It uses these to close around its prey. However the spike at its rear is simply a breathing tube, which it uses like a snorkel.

We learnt about water voles, but they were keeping out of the way by the dipping platforms but we saw some on our camera footage and then made some to take home!

Elsewhere Colin filled our bird feeders ready for the weekend... 

...and Chris and Brian did another fungi survey - these are just the finds they had to bring back to look up, but they found over 30 species! Thank you all for helping.

And we spent the afternoon troubleshooting and repairing strimmers.

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