Beautiful Bird Boxes!
Monday, February 19th 2024
Yesterday, in celebration of National Nest Box Week, Foxglove Covert hosted the Holmedale Community Nature Project's bird box building day.
These bird boxes will provide nesting places for a variety of bird species. Some boxes were made with small circular openings, which will be used by species such as Blue Tit, Coal Tit, Great Tit and Marsh Tits. Other boxes were made with larger rectangular openings, which are preferred by robins and wrens.
Putting up nest boxes is a useful way to provide safe nesting boxes for garden birds. Nest boxes are important because as gardens, parks and woodland become tidier and more carefully managed, there are fewer natural holes (such as those in standing dead trees) that birds can nest in. Similarly, modern buildings have few holes and overhangs where birds can make their nests. You can provide birds with a safe nesting place by putting up a box at least one meter above ground, angled slightly downwards (to prevent rain pouring into the entrance), and not too close to bird feeders and other nest boxes of the same type.
If you have nest boxes you still need to build, put up, or clean out, be sure to do so soon! Some bird species are already starting to prospect nesting sites and set up their territories for the breeding season.
Special thanks to Lizzie for organising this event and Brian for preparing all the materials and teaching everyone how to build thier nest boxes!
Thursday, February 15th 2024
This Tuesday the willow coppicing efforts of winter 2023/24 were completed!
Here at Foxglove Covert there are ten coppice 'coups' which are coppiced on a rotation. This year it was the turn of coup four to be coppiced.
What was a densely wooded area is now open to sunlight, which will allow the coppiced willow to re-grow and an understory to develop.
In a years time, this area will already be full of grasses, rushes, saplings, and young willow re-growth, just like last year's coppiced coup is now:
Many thanks to all who helped with the coppicing this year.
Friday, February 9th 2024
Perhaps surprisingly, scythes can be used throughout the year to cut a variety of plants, not just wildflower meadows in Summer!
This week Carl and El took advantage of a rare sunny afternoon to remove encroaching saplings along the scrapes. Young saplings and tangles of brambles have been growing steadily along the edges of the scrapes, and some removal was necessary to stop them taking over. After volunteer Peter removed some of the older growth with a bow saw, in came the scythes!
Although not a usual technique for scything, upwards slicing motions with the scythe can cut through thin samplings and brambles easily. Removing this scrub will ensure the water in the scrapes stay open and aren't taken over by vegetation.
Sunday, January 28th 2024
Among the many habitats and hides at Foxglove Covert, one of the best places to watch birds is right in the Field Centre, looking out onto the feeders in the garden. This was exactly where staff, volunteers and visitors completed the RSPB's Big Garden Bird Watch today.
There were lots of birds flitting in and out of the garden, so fast they were tricky to count. Thanks to those who helped spot all the different birds enjoying food from the feeders and hiding in the trees.
Some highlights from the count included 5 bullfinches, 4 Long-tailed Tits, 2 Great Spotted Woodpeckers, 2 Bramblings, 1 Greenfinch, 1 Nuthatch and a flock of 13 Lesser Redpoll.
Thursday, January 25th 2024
Among decaying branches, mossy logs and the soggy leaf littered ground of Foxglove Covert you can spot Scarlet or Ruby Elf Cup Fungi. A lovely splash of bright red among browns and greens, these fungi fruit in winter and through to early spring.
Visually indistinguishable, Ruby Elf Cup (Sarcoscypha coccinea) and Scarlet Elf Cup (Sarcoscypha austriaca) can be identified by microscope or DNA.
Winter might seem bleak and barren, but remember to keep an eye out for splashes of colour like these as you wander outside. There is always something to see, even in midwinter!