Owls, Trees and Pumpkins!
Wednesday, October 28th 2020
A rescued Tawny Owl was brought to the reserve to be ringed before its release back into the wild. It had been found laying in a main road in the Dales, wet and bedraggled. After some TLC from a local 'owl man' it is fully recovered and will go back into its natural habitat over the next few days.
Due to the heavy rain, the Foxglove team of volunteers have been working in the conifer woodland where it is well sheltered. They have been thinning out some of the small Sitka Spruce to allow more light into the forest floor. Once felled, the side branches were trimmed off with a chainsaw - a process known as 'snedding'.
The wood was then graded into different piles; one for woodchips, one for path edges and the brash for the bonfire.
As usual, the amount of brash was surprising!
It was a chilly day and the bonfire was a welcome source of heat for the workers.
Especially for Richard who needed to warm his hands up after carrying several rucksack loads of boulders to a boggy section of footpath.
There was a shocking lack of jacket potatoes but this will be put right later in the week! The end result of the thinning was clear to see and the extra light coming through the remaining trees was significant.
From high up in the woodland, the sounds of children enjoying the pumpkin trail could be heard. This has proved to be very popular and the pumpkins are bearing up well in the wet weather!
More Meadow Management
Monday, October 26th 2020
Cutting and raking of the wildflower habitats is still ongoing at the reserve. This year, cutting has been carried out much later than in previous years as the flowers have flowered later than usual. The area next to Spigot Mere is one of the last meadows to be cut and as it is inaccessible to large machinery it has to be done the hard way; with strimmers and then old fashioned wooden hay rakes!
Incredibly, some flowers were still out, including Sneezewort and Devil's Bit Scabious. Care was taken to cut around them as they are a precious late source of nectar for wildlife.
It was hard going wading through the wet grass with strimmers and is a bigger area than it looks from the path!
Luckily, help came from many different people; mid-week volunteers, work placement students, Interns and for the first time since the lockdown a small team from the PRC (Personnel Recovery Centre) at Catterick Garrison.
Our sincere thanks to everyone who has helped with this important job from cutting and raking to removing the hay, we couldn't have done it without you!
Saturday, October 24th 2020
On Friday, Foxglove Covert LNR received a cheque for £500 from TESCO as part of their COVID grants. During the summer lockdown, the reserve was forced to close for three months and like many other charities who rely on donations from the public it suffered financially. This money will go a long way towards the maintenance of the habitats and the Foxglove team are extremely grateful. They also kindly donated some pumpkins for the half term trail.
It didn't take Olivia (Intern from Teesside University) long to transform the pumpkins into fantastic decorations.
They are now hiding along the Easy Access Trail (Red Route) for you to find!
The Fifth Kingdom
Friday, October 23rd 2020
Neither plant nor animal, fungi has been recognised as a separate kingdom for over fifty years. This time of year is when most of the fungi is found at the reserve. The team of species recorders at Foxglove has discovered so much this month that there are more species of fungi than there are of birds on the observation board in the Field Centre. Like all other living organisms, fungi is named and classified into groups. Until recently, there were relatively few English names for British fungi but the British Mycological Society have been creating new ones to encourage more interest in biodiversity.
This Green Elfcup Chlorociboria aeruginascens is found on the old, rotting wood of broad-leaved trees, especially oak, the wood becoming stained blue-green. This has been used to supply the green colour for making Tunbridge Ware. If you look carefully, you can see some of the stained wood in the top left of the photograph. It was photographed on one of the many log piles.
In the conifer woodland look out for Green-staining Coral Ramaria abietina so named because its branches turn greenish when bruised. A good species to be found at Foxglove because it has been described as growing in 'small trooping groups'!
Similarly looking, is Meadow Coral Clavulinopsis corniculata, however, this prefers grassy habitats.
Yellow Club Clavulinopsis helvola is found among grass and mosses on unimproved grassland and heathland but can also live in broad-leaved woodland.
Another meadow species is Meadow Puffball Lycoperdon utriforme which looks a bit like a white golf ball when it first emerges but then turns dark-grey brown over time.
The large logs of broad-leaved trees that line the access road are a perfect place for Hairy-Curtain Crust Stereum hirsutum. The upper surface of these irregularly-shaped tiered brackets is distinctly hairy. Individual brackets are 2 to 8 cm across and have irregularly wavy edges. The colours, which are zoned and generally paler towards the margin, darken with age. They can be quite colourful and are found all year round.
Primrose Brittlegill, False Saffron Milkcaps, Elfin Saddle, Blackening Waxcaps, Woolly Milkcaps, White Saddle, Conifer Mazegill and Spotted Toughshank are just a few of the other names on the monthly list for October.
Many thanks go to the dedicated team of volunteers who work hard to discover and identify the various species with special thanks to Chris Meek for providing the photographs for today's blog.
Wednesday, October 21st 2020
Looking for something to do over the half term break? Why not have a go at our Pumpkin Trail? Come along with your family bubble and follow the clues around the Easy Access Trail (red route). This path is wheelchair and pushchair friendly. No booking required, just bring a pencil!
See the events page for further details.